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Boulder Neighborhoods

Boulder’s neighborhoods are laid out on grids, with numbered streets running north/south and named streets east/west. Only post-World War II did some developments begin to swirl around with curved streets, cul-de-sacs and sudden dead ends. Baseline Road, a prime east/west thoroughfare, follows the 40th parallel, and from 1854 until the creation of the Colorado Territory in 1860, it was also the line that divided the Nebraska and Kansas Territories. Everything south of Baseline is considered South Boulder. Broadway cuts a north/south swath through the city. The heart of the CU campus lies just north of Broadway and east of Broadway. North Boulder is less defined. Some believe it starts around Balsam Avenue, others a mile or so farther at Iris Avenue. Foothills Parkway is a limited access north/south arterial and the Diagonal Highway continues off to the northeast, past the enormous IBM campus to Longmont. 

Downtown Boulder

The heart and soul of Boulder reside on the four-block stretch of Pearl Street (between 11th and 15th streets) known as the Pearl Street Mall. This immaculately landscaped pedestrian strip is lined with some of the city’s most popular (and mostly independent) restaurants, neatest cafes and most interesting shops. Chains are happily in short supply here. Small children scramble on “the rocks” on the 1200 block and the bronze animals on the 1400 block. In all but the bleakest weather, buskers entertain for tips. In the warm months, Band on the Bricks (Wednesday evenings), Noon Tunes (Friday) and numerous festivals take place on the plaza and lawn in front of the art deco courthouse on the 1300 block. Aggressive panhandling, dogs and bicycles are prohibited. The entire mall is Wi-Fi enabled. Shops and eateries extend several blocks to the east and west, and early-21st century development includes pricey downtown residences.

Mapleton Hill Historic District

Just northwest of downtown, Mapleton Hill is the first among equals when it comes to historic neighborhoods. Homes built before World War II and often before World War I display traditional residential architectural styles. This Boulder neighborhood extends from Fourth to roughly 10th street, roughly between Spruce Street to Maxwell Street, and is known for its tree-lined roadways. Many of the trees are large maples that in truth have no business growing in an environment where heavy, wet snow can fall as late as May or as early as September. But oh, how beautiful it is, especially when the foliage turns and the colors are no less than splendid. Mapleton Avenue, an elegant boulevard with wide, landscaped medians, is considered the best street around with the biggest houses. Most of them are beautifully landscaped and well-maintained single-family homes.

University Hill

Across Broadway from the University of Colorado campus is a gracious residential Boulder neighborhood called University Hill—or UniHill. Some of the fine old homes near campus are now fraternity or sorority houses or offices for institutes affiliated with the college and are therefore a little less gracious. The farther from the campus, the more purely residential UniHill is. Solid brick and half-timbered Tudor-style homes prevail on large lots. On The Hill is the name of the neighborhood’s own retail, entertainment and eatery area covering a few tight blocks around College and Pennsylvania avenues. Most of the businesses cater to students.

South Boulder

Martin Acres, one of Boulder’s first post-World War II subdivision on the east side of Broadway, is notable for rows and rows of small brick ranch houses built on a former orchard south of Baseline Road. Now a slightly tatty mix of families and house-sharing students, it signaled the beginning of South Boulder’s growth spurt. Table Mesa and adjacent Shanahan Ridge neighborhoods east of Broadway and a few blocks to the south came later when raised ranches, split-levels, ultimately townhouses and ultimately custom homes became the residential range. Crowning this Boulder neighborhood is the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) housed in a distinctive building designed by I.M. Pei and used to depict a 22nd-century building in Woody Allen’s ‘Sleeper.’ The Table Mesa Shopping center occupies the southwest corner of Table Mesa and Broadway and is the neighborhood’s commercial and retail area. Residents love it for its matchless access to a web of Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks trails.

Holiday Neighborhood

In Boulder's far north, near the point in the grid where U.S. Highway 36 and Broadway meet, is the Holiday Neighborhood, named after the Holiday Drive-In Theater that once occupied the acreage and operated until 1988. Now, it is Boulder’s premier example of new urbanism combining traditional people—rather than car-oriented single-family homes and lofts. A small retail area on the east side of Broadway north and south of Yellow Pine Avenue serves residents and passersby. The old drive-in sign was left on the U.S. Highway 36 (east) side of the development to honor what was once there.