Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Welcome to the new decade: 1880!

As we roll from the twenty-aughts to the twenty-teens (or whatever we call this new decade), I've decided to continue my focus back through time in Leadville.

So, here we go.

1879 is over. 1880 (and a new decade!) begins. What was Leadville up to in the early part of January? Well, just as we throw out our old calendars and spruce up the place (and our files) to take on new projects, Leadville decided "out with the old and in with the new," by passing Ordinance 88.

Ordinance 88 changed the name of some of the main streets and instituted a new numbering system for all the city's buildings.

A sample of some of the name changes:
Infamous State Street became Second Street (although the 100 block of West Second Street, where the fictional Inez Stannert has her fictional Silver Queen saloon, continued to be referred to as "State Street" despite the name change).
Main Street became Third Street.
Lafayette and Park Streets (the same street but called by different names, depending which side of Harrison Avenue they landed on) became Fourth Street.
Carbonate and Fifth became simply Fifth Street.
... and so on.

A January 21, 1880, article in Leadville's Evening Chronicle ran a long retrospective piece on real estate (observe here that they used the old street names, not the new):
Real estate operations in Leadville since January 1st, 1879,
have furnished something for the world to wonder at. At that
time there was nothing in the way of business on any street
save Chestnut, between Harrison avenue and Spruce, State
between Pine and Harrison, and Harrison between Chestnut
and State. The brick building of the Star clothing house,
at the southeast corner of State and Harrison, was the outpost
of the business field. North of it the avenue was a
mudsill alley, full of low hovels, stumps, trees and debris. In
fact it was a sort of dumping place for rubbish and filth. Lots
were slow of sale at $100 to $200, between State and Park
streets. In November, 1878, the entire half block facing on
Harrison, bounded by State and Main streets, and running
back to the alley between the avenue and Pine street, was
offered to the proprietors of THE CHRONICLE for four hundred
By 1880, all that had changed:

South of the postoffice [at 320 Harrison] . . . to Elm street, lots
of twenty-five feet frontage are held at $5,000 to $8,000 each.
One man asks $10,000 for his lot, but this is an exception.
North of the postoffice, or between Lafayette avenue and the
base of Capitol Hill, prices range from $3,000 down to $1,200.

Easy to see why lot-jumpers proliferated in late 1879!

Early 1880, to be continued. Until then, wishing you:

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