Five Points of History

Photo: Denver Post, Kevin J. Beaty

For Black History Month, Mercy Housing would like to highlight Five Points, a historic African American neighborhood just minutes away from our home office in Denver, CO. Famed for classic architecture, an entrepreneurial spirit, and jazz, this neighborhood has shaped the face of our city for generations.

Denver blossomed in the mid-nineteenth century silver boom and the African American population grew substantially. Due to harsh segregation practices African Americans were centered in just one area that became Five Points. The iconic name “Five Points” was coined when the trolley car couldn’t fit all intersection cross streets onto one sign.

During the early 20th century the neighborhood was touted as a center of jazz in the American West. From the 1960s to the 90s the neighborhood experienced severe population decline and the closing of mainstay businesses. Over the past decade a massive influx of new residents and investment has ushered in a new era. As middle- and upper-class residents pour in, gentrification is a serious concern. Longtime residents worry about the changing character of their neighborhood.

Bandleader Lionel Hampton and friends at Rossonian Lounge in 1948. (Black American West Museum/National Register of Historic Places)

Five Points has seen drastic population changes throughout its existence — a rich variety of African Americans, Latinos, and Japanese-Americans influenced this incredible neighborhood’s character.

In July, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock announced plans for a $15 million fund to preserve and build at least 6,000 affordable homes throughout the city, especially in transit-oriented development areas like Five Points. This is meant to maintain neighborhoods’ characters and ensure the success of mixed-income communities.

To better serve communities, Mercy Housing strives to deeply understand the cities and neighborhoods that we partner with. We encourage you to get to know your city as well. Whether you’re a resident or visitor to Denver, we hope you get the opportunity to explore iconic Five Points.

Places and Events:

Stiles African American Heritage Center

The Blair-Caldwell African American Research Library

Five Points Jazz Festival