Dirty. Dark. Dangerous. Let’s just say alleyways don’t have the best of reputations. But the times are a-changing in Denver’s inner city. Now some old dingy alleys are being cleaned up and coming alive.
Many are receiving facelifts by local artists. For example, those who venture into three alleys on the 16th Street Mall and one in Larimer Square will find art installations that range from playful cats resting on the alleyway roof and sunning in window sills (between 15th and 14th Streets and Larimer and Market) to
an oversized air freshener hanging above an alley way (between Stout and California streets on the southwest side of the 16th Street Mall), offering the scent of Blue Spruce and a sly visual commentary courtesy of artist Frankie Toan.
There is also a wonderful array of alley murals in RINO. Combined with the colorful murals on the street, the art is so plentiful that visitors can now take walking tours to learn about the artists behind the work. (Call RINO Rebel Tours or Denver Graffiti Tour).
Meanwhile, the Alley at the Dairy Block has recently become Denver’s first “activated” alley, meaning the alley that has been “cleaned up, repaved, decorated with murals and other outdoor art and, most important, given a common consumption liquor license,” according to Westword.
Dairy Block stretches from 18th to 19th Streets between Blake and Wazee with restaurant patios, an indoor-outdoor bar and art installations. Here, patrons are allowed to carry their drinks the length of the alley as they stroll, looking in stores and visiting with friends on different patios.
In sum, the old grungy alley days may soon be a thing of the past. Rodents, be forewarned.
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