City Cast

A Look Back at the Original Denver Denargo Market

Paul Karolyi
Paul Karolyi
Posted on September 2   |   Updated on October 16
Denver's original Denargo Market pictured in 1939.

Back in 1939, the old Denargo Market was the spot. (History Colorado)

Developers broke ground last Thursday on a brand new mixed-use project off Brighton Boulevard that is set to eventually offer housing, office space, restaurants, and entertainment venues. Curiously, officials named the development after Denver’s old Denargo Market, which operated at 29th and Broadway before burning down in 1971.

The original Denargo Market opened on May 10, 1939, and it quickly became a hub for produce suppliers and shoppers. In the summer months, the riverbank was packed with 18-wheelers brimming with fresh fruit for purchase.

Denargo Market was also a major employer — even the famous beat poet Jack Kerouac worked there while he was writing what would become his acclaimed novel, “On the Road.” In his original scroll, he recalled his first day on the job: “The work was so hard that I quickly developed Charley Horses in my arms and almost had to scream to go on. Of course I was soft compared to the Japanese fellows who worked side by side with me; their muscles were attuned to this onerous business of dragging a fruitwagon loaded eight crates high and having to balance it and pull it with arms backward outstretched and if you make on mistake you ruin a whole load of fruit and do it on your own poor head. I cut around all day long with these muscular Nisei and swore and swore.”

Will the new Denargo Market inspire anything as lasting as “On the Road”? Only time will tell.

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