Finding Your Way Around Denver Without a Map!

Day 6 of 100 Denver Real Estate and Relocation Tips in 100 Days (Day 6)

Amaze your friends with your self-navigation skills even if you have never set foot in Denver before! The following information makes it so easy to get around Denver, even without a map!

I asked my husband to come up with an easy explanation and of course he got much more detailed than I ever would!  So I will give my "short" version and continue with Larry's more detailed one.  You can pick the one you like, lots of info or brief info!

The center of the Denver Grid is at Ellsworth and Broadway.  Here the blocks are numbered in 100 increments going in each direction.  You can look on a street sign and see what 100-block you are on.

Streets to the north have "numbered names" for the most part. There are a few exceptions, ML King, Colfax and others.  It is best to memorize their numbers.

Streets to the south must be memorized. They really don't have a rhyme or reason the the naming.  I remember Hampden as 3500 s.

To the east and west the streets will run in an alpha sequence.  Eastbound they double up, running like this aa, bb, cc, dd, and so on.  Of course they don't start this sequence until the other side of Colorado Blvd.

Going west the alpha sequence triples to aaa, bbb, ccc, ddd, and so on.

There are always exceptions to the rule, but for the most part knowing the direction and the block number of a street you can find it without a map.

Downtown there is no order, nor in central Denver.  In both areas one must memorize the street.


With the major exception being the downtown area, Denver’s streets are laid out on an east-west, north-south grid pattern. Downtown Denver’s street area also lay on a grid, with the grid following the course of the Cherry Creek and the Platte River. The Platte, running northeast, with Cherry Creek intersecting from the southeast forced the pattern of Denver’s early streets. Those early planners of Denver numbered the streets paralleling Cherry Creek, and named many of the early streets paralleling the Platte River after prominent citizens or whatever was convenient.
After the 1867 Geological Survey of the 40th
Parallel, future Denver streets became north-south, east-west. All addresses in Metro Denver relate to the
grid, with the center of the grid being Broadway (0, bordering downtown) and
Ellsworth Avenue (0, 15 blocks south of downtown) being the center of the
grid.Streets run north-south, avenues
run east-west.

All avenues north of Ellsworth are numbered, 1st Avenue through 160th Avenue on the extreme north side of Metro Denver. All avenues south of Ellsworth are named, as in Mississippi (1100 south) or Hampden (3500 south).Addresses running east or west of Broadway advance by 100 every street.

So, leaving the downtown streets out of the discussion for the moment, let’s consider an example. You have to find a hotel that is located
at 1900 West 120th Avenue. You know that avenues north are numbered, so on a map, you simply look north of downtown until you find 120th Avenue, then go 19 streets west of Broadway to find the location.

If you need to locate 3801 East Florida Avenue, you will look south of Ellsworth because Florida is a named avenue, then count 38
streets east of Broadway. All addresses relate to the grid, even non-conforming streets like Speer Blvd, and I-25.

Even numbered addresses are on the east and south side of any street or avenue. Downtown streets function on a grid also, there are just no designated avenues. The grid and address pattern apply to the circulinear streets popular in the newer suburban areas.

The Rocky Mountains are always to the west, so if you are facing the mountains, north is to your right, south to your left. Denver International Airport is at approximately 85th Ave in the 220 block, therefore northeast of the city. The Colorado Capital is at 1400 Sherman Street, 2 blocks east of Broadway, just south of downtown.Colfax Avenue is a non-conforming avenue, it should be 15th Avenue.Martin Luther King takes the place of 32nd avenue east of Broadway.

Of course, with the advent of GPS, all anyone really has to know is how to operate the GPS. But if you are ever stranded without the benefit of an electronic doodad, it might be useful to know that the mountains are to the west, and the streets and avenues correspond to a grid.

Copyright Kristal Kraft ~ all Rights Reserved

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