‹‹ Colorado Matters

Brick by brick, Denver’s historic ‘Great Fire’ brought lasting change

Listen Now
11min 57sec
Denver Public Library Special Collections, X-19265
A view of 15th Street in Denver in 1863. When fire struck in the middle of the night more than 100 buildings were lost.

It was 1863. The gold rush was in full swing and at the edge of the Rocky Mountains a new city called Denver was bustling. But the town was built in a hurry and crowded with buildings made of wood. When a fire started in the middle of the night almost every building downtown burned. In the aftermath, local officials tightened building codes and changed the cityscape forever.