University Hill History
University Hill History
Boulder is blessed with a wonderful and fascinating history. The University Hill neighborhood has always played a major role in shaping that history. Residents of the Hill have a long history of civil activism. The city's first zoning ordinance was the result of Hill residents efforts.
Dan Corson, a hill resident, past Boulder city council member, current member of Historic Boulder, co-founder of Beautify Boulder, and pacesetter award winner, provided this summary of significant historical events that define the University Hill Neighborhood.
The development of University Hill began in 1890 with the 194-acre University Place Addition, a large-scale development initiated by a group of investors, many from Nova Scotia, recognizing the potential value of the location's proximity to the campus.
· The area at that time consisted of a few log cabins and pasture and grazing lands.
· Land was divided into 1,820 lots that cost the investors $9.22 per lot.
· The investors sold the lots for $25 t0 $100, depending upon location.
· The first ten people agreeing to build a residence costing not less than $2,500 were given four lots free of charge.
· The first house was built in 1891.
· The second, later the home of CU President George Norlin, was constructed at 907 12th Street in 1892.
· The investors donated a block at 10th and Aurora to the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary for the Mount St. Gertrude Academy serving both healthy and tubercular students.
The first attempt to provide a streetcar to serve University Hill failed for lack of sufficient capital.
· However, after the doubling of the CU student population in 1893 and 1894 as well as the opening of the Texas-Colorado Chautauqua in 1898, the city granted a street railway right-of-way.
· The Boulder Street Railway's brown and yellow trolleys began running along the three-mile track in June 1899, charging a fee of five cents per trip.
· The route extended from the railroad depot at 14th and Water (now Canyon), south along 12th Street (now Broadway) to its intersection with Pennsylvania Avenue, then traveling down 13th Street to College Avenue where it headed west to 9th Street and thence directly south to Chautauqua Park.
· On the return trip, the system traveled north on 10th Street to Aurora where it headed back to 14th Street, thence to Broadway and the depot.
· The streetcar system operated until June 1931 when a bus system was implemented.
The streetcar resulted in a real estate boom. At that time the city welcomed growth.
· The area attracted professors and employees of the university, families who planned to send their children to CU, business and professional workers, and university students.
· This growth led to the need for a school. In 1906 University Hill School opened with six classrooms and an auditorium. The existence of the school encouraged additional residential growth.
· The presence of the streetcar line along 13th Street led to a change in the 1910s from a young residential neighborhood block to commercial establishments catering both to the neighborhood and students. It boasted restaurants, a drug and stationary store, a grocery, and a movie theater.
· The commercial slogan "On the Hill" was in use as early as 1919.
Student housing needs led early to sororities, fraternities, boarding houses and other multi-unrelated person dwelling units.
· Chapter houses of sororities and fraternities kept pace with other residential development.
· At first students rented rooms in houses, but boarding houses soon became the norm for student housing.
Later additions increased the size of the University Hill neighborhood.
1893: Rose Hill
1902: Capitol Hill
1902: Chautauqua Heights
1906: University Park
1906: Floral Park
1907: Wellington Heights
1920s and 1930s:
The boom times of the 1920s led to an era of little growth during the Great Depression.
· Everyone wanted a home on University Hill in the 1920s. The popular architectural styles of the time, Bungalow and Craftsman, predominated construction.
· Building covenants were written into deeds requiring a house of not less than $1,500 built of brick, stone or a combination of the two.
· Some university deans and professors built large homes with spacious rooms in which to entertain each other.
· The first large apartment buildings were built at 1020 13th Street and 1305 Euclid with the university continuing its practice of utilizing buildings in the area as extension of its campus facilities.
· In addition, a proliferation of commercial establishments on 13th Street led to the city's first zoning ordinance in 1928.
· On the other hand, with the advent of the Great Depression and the substantial residential build-out of University Hill, few new dwellings were constructed.
· However, during the 1930s Boulder businessman and neighbor William Beach donated 22 lots at 12th and Euclid for a park.
1940s and 1950s:
The military presence during World War II provided a stimulus for University Hill neighborhood construction.
· The Navy's Japanese Language School was transferred from Berkeley to the Boulder campus, with teachers and students tending to live on the Hill.
· Post-war growth of the university and its scientific interest led to construction on the remaining undeveloped lots with 44% of them being developed between 1948 and 1951..
· The 13th Street commercial corridor witnessed entertainment-related construction of the Flatiron Theater, the remodeling of the Fox Theater, and Tulagi.
· During the 1950s, new residential subdivisions such as Martin Acres took the emphasis off University Hill.
Last Updated (Thursday, 21 January 2010 04:00)