|More Books by Phil Goodstein
The Seamy Side of Denver.
Denver: New Social Publications, 1993. 288 pp. $18.95.
The Seamy Side of Denver is a new outrageous,
fast-paced volume on the Mile High City's shady past.
The story of how Market Street was once literally
a flesh market where more than a thousand women sold
their charms before World War I, how certain rooming
houses had "two maids" on duty for guests
for many years, and the nature of striptease in the
Queen City and its pubic wars are but the beginning
of the numerous bizarre and fascinating tales
featured in this alternative history of Denver. Schemers,
as much as dreamers, argues author Phil Goodstein,
are central to understanding the evolution of the
Mile High City.
This well-illustrated, 288-page volume begins with
a visit to Denver's Union Station. There the author
takes readers on a tour of the facility, looking for
ghosts and tunnels, while talking about how Denver
emerged as a binge city in the 19th century where
visitors were viewed as victims of swindlers and hustlers.
The action then turns to the red-light district as
the history of both legal and illegal prostitution
is chronicled. "Take it off!" is a chapter
on burlesque houses in the Mile High City. Other chapters
look at notorious murders, the dubious events which
have happened at certain Denver hotels, the "sky
pilots" who have stood out on the spiritual scene
and the scandalous events which occurred when the
Ku Klux Klan briefly dominated Colorado politics in
"Policing the Seamy Side" is a particularly
controversial chapter on the Denver Police Department.
The focus is on the time when nearly ten percent of
the city's police officers were implicated in a burglary
ring in the late 1950s/early 1960s. The Seamy Side
of Denver also reports on the close ties between Elvis
Presley and members of the Denver Police Department.
A photo shows Elvis in a Denver police captain's uniform
while the text explains how Presley once came to present
members of the force with limousines. The chapter
also talks about Molly, a woman who specially serviced
police officers and fire fighters in the days of yore.
The Seamy Side of Denver is not a history
of crime and criminals. Rather, Goodstein seeks to
explore what the seams in Denver's fabric mean, the
character of the people who have operated in the demimonde,
and the way the seamy side has interacted with the
customs and traditions of Denver as a whole. While
now and then the stories seem pretty outrageous, such
as the one about the floating heads in the tunnels
under the Colorado Capitol, the general tone is a
serious treatment of this part of Denver's past and
In addition to his new volume, Goodstein is also
the author of Denver's Capitol Hill, South Denver
Saga and Exploring Jewish Colorado. He has conducted
numerous walking tours of Denver through Colorado
Free University. Not everybody, he admits, has been
pleased with his presentations of the city's past
and uncovering some of the skeletons in Denver's closets.
Precisely to emphasize that Denver has been home to
all sorts of people, he started giving a specialized
tour of "The Seamy Side of Denver" through
Colorado Free University in the fall of 1989. The
result is this book.
The Seamy Side of Denver lists of $18.95.
A special offer through Leonard Leonard & Associates
makes it available via mail order for $17.50, postpaid,
to New Social Publications; Box 18026; Denver 80218.
Denver Streets: Names, Numbers,
Denver: New Social Publications, 1994. Illustrations,
index, bibliography. 11 x 81/2 inches. ISBN: 0-9622169-2-5.
viii + 144 pp. $16.95.
There's a method to their madness. That's the message
of Phil Goodstein's new book, Denver Streets:
Names, Numbers, Locations, Logic. This 152-page
coffee table-sized volume is a detailed study of Denver's
street names. In fascinating detail, the author tells
how the streets were named and numbered.
In the course of the 19th century, Denver's streets
were a chaotic hodgepodge. Streets were continually
renamed and renumbered. The result was a multitude
of small roads whereby nobody was precisely sure how
to find his or her way around town. Numerous ordinances
were passed labeling and relabeling the city's roads.
When all that changed, how Denver roads have come
to be dominated by a series of alphabets, why First
Avenue is the first numbered avenue in town, which
streets recall pioneers, and much, much more are the
focus of Denver Streets.
The study of the city's roads, the author observes,
is not only an investigation of the city's history,
but is also an excursion into geography, biography,
and botany. This especially comes out in the chapter
on "Today's Streets." Here all of the major
roads on the Denver grid system are listed. The volume
attempts to specify origins of their names and the
nature of the different theme alphabets through the
city. The previous names of the current roads are
The book also includes a chapter on "Yesterday's
Streets." Here the reader discovers that the
city once had such roads as Banana Street (Josephine
Street), Diamond Avenue (West 27th Avenue), and Tippecanoe
Street (South York Street). These lists will prove
invaluable to anyone who has to deal with the city's
past and where previous buildings were located.
Denver Streets is not just limited to Denver.
Besides focusing on the roads of the Mile High City,
there is a discussion of the past and present names
of streets in Arvada, Aurora, Englewood, Edgewater,
Thornton, Littleton, Westminster, and the other towns
which are part of the greater Denver street grid.
Indeed, a major theme of the volume is that the street
system provides an essential link giving an overall
unity to the metropolis.
Numerous illustrations highlight Denver Streets.
In addition to many maps of yesterday's Denver, the
volume includes shots of some of the unusual
and diverse street scenes and street signs from the
city's past and present. All of this is complemented
by a long essay on the evolution of the streets along
with a discussion of sources and a detailed index.
Denver Streets: Names, Numbers, Locations, Logic
lists for $18.95. It is available for $17.50, postpaid,
from New Social Publications; Box 18026; Denver 80218.
Murders in the Bank Vault:
The Father's Day Massacre and the Trial of James King.
By Walter Gerash as told to Phil Goodstein. Denver:
New Social Publications, 1998. viii + 336 pp. ISBN:
It was the crime that shocked the city. On Father's
Day 1991, four bank guards were brutally murdered
in the depths of the so-called Cash Register Building,
the headquarters of the old United Bank of Denver.
No sooner had they been executed with bullets to the
backs of their heads than six tellers found themselves
facing a masked, armed intruder who made off with
nearly $200,000 in cash. These events were called
the Father's Day Massacre.
From the outset, the police believed this to be an
inside job. But despite an intensive investigation,
they could not turn up any concrete evidence. After
more than two weeks of futilely trying to determine
who was responsible for these heinous deeds, they
focused on a retired Denver police sergeant and former
bank guard, James W. King.
Upon King's arrest, five of the tellers, who had
not previously identified King as the gunman, identified
him in a six-man photo lineup as the robber. On this
basis, the media had a field day of branding King
Denver's bank robber of the century.
Walter Gerash—Rocky Mountain Thunder—entered
the case as King's attorney. A dynamic lawyer who
has roared through Colorado courts since the 1950s,
Gerash had earned a reputation as a fighting attorney
who took politically charged cases and represented
unpopular defendants accused of committing sensational
The trial of Jim King garnered massive attention.
Nationally televised on Court TV, it lasted for more
than a month. Elvis Presley, Peter Coyote, and Harrison
Ford made cameo appearances in the case. The jury
took nine days to reach its verdict in the longest
deliberations in Denver history.
Murders in the Bank Vault is Walter Gerash's
story of what happened that Father's Day. He traces
the nature of the crime, the police search, the career
of Jim King, and the court proceedings. In the process,
his courtroom style comes out. So does his political
commitment, view of the jury system, and his fighting
demeanor. Peeks at his life and some of his other
colorful and controversial cases are included in the
Gerash is joined by Denver historian Phil Goodstein.
The author of numerous books on the city, including
The Seamy Side of Denver and The Ghosts of Denver,
Goodstein sees Gerash's career as embodying much of
the modern history of the Mile High City. Together,
they weave a fascinating tale of true crime, the legal
system, and the way a dynamic attorney protects popular
liberties against an oppressive system.
Murders in the Bank Vault lists for $18.95.
It is available for $10.00, postpaid from New Social
Publications; Box 18026; Denver 80218.
Denver in Our Time: Big Money
in the Big City.
Volume one of a two-volume set. Denver: New Social
Publications, 1999. 504 pp. ISBN 0-9622169-7-6. $24.95.
200+ illustrations, index.
Denver has continually sought to make itself over
since World War II. During the past half century,
waves of urban renewal, sprawl, frenzied growth, and
booster projects have repeatedly swept the Mile High
City. Business, community, and political leaders have
embraced sports as the metropolis' identity. All the
while, many residents have treasured the Mile High
City as a magical enclave in a beautiful climate.
These contrasting forces and contending factors have
added up to a dynamic city marking Denver in Our
A lively, well-illustrated book by Phil Goodstein
with countless original and archival photos, Denver
in Our Time is anything but an ordinary volume on
local history. Focusing on the people, politics, and
institutions of the Mile High City over the past two
generations, Denver in Our Time: Big Money in the
Big City notes a stark polarization of the town between
citizens loving their city and an arrogant corps of
Denver haters who continually denounce existing institutions
as not good enough as they seek to transform Denver
into a "great city." Understanding how these
competing interests have clashed and the products
of their efforts is at the heart of the study.
The first part of a two-volume set, Big Money
in the Big City, as the name implies, examines
exactly who owns and rules Denver. A lengthy chapter
probes the origins and powers of Colorado's biggest
banks, real estate investors, and corporations. In
the rich tradition of muckraking, the author exposes
how the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce seeks to
operate as a shadow government, pulling the strings
in the region.
The impact of big money pervades the lives of everyday
Denverites. It affects how the news is reported, the
quality of the colleges, the nature of the arts, and
transportation patterns. This comes out in chapters
looking at such institutions as the Denver Center
for the Performing Arts, the Auraria Higher Education
Center, and the Denver Urban Renewal Authority. Denver
in Our Time further shows the close connections
between the Regional Transportation District and real
estate interests. Other chapters look at the origins
and evolution of the 16th Street Mall, the character
of lower downtown, and how the Platte floodplain became
transformed into the Central Platte Valley. The volume
closes by exploring Denver's voices of opposition.
In addition to conducting a wide array of city walking
tours, author Phil Goodstein is known for his iconoclastic
potshots at the existing heroes of the region. Through
his monthly newsletter, The Naysayer, he has questioned
the existing consensus about the region. In his previous
books, including The Seamy Side of Denver, Murders
in the Bank Vault, and The Ghosts of Denver,
Goodstein has provided a far different slant on the
area than found in other accounts of the city. He
promises volume two of Denver in Our Time: Corporate
Consolidation, will continue the story, examining
the racial polarization of modern Denver, the breakdown
of the school system, the rise of a new political
machine dominated by Federico Peña and Wellington
Webb, and the machinations behind Denver International
This path-breaking book is required reading for anyone
interested in the Queen City of Mountain and Plain.
Denver in Our Time: Big Money in the Big City,
retails for $24.95. It is available for $22.50, postpaid,
from New Social Publications; Box 18026; Denver 18026.
DIA and Other Scams.
Volume two of a two-volume set, Denver in Our Time:
A People's History of the Modern Mile High City. Denver:
New Social Publications, 2000. 560 pp. ISBN 0-9622169-8-4.
$24.95. 200+ illustrations, bibliography, index.
The extreme bungling and cost overruns of Denver
International Airport (DIA) were no accident. Nor
was the collapse of the Bush family-connected Silverado
Savings. All the while, urban sprawl is not something
that simply happens; it has been planned, being most
profitable to sections of the business community.
DIA, Silverado, and sprawl have close links. Not only
were many of those involved with Silverado key backers
of DIA, but the thrift and the airport were nurtured
by a new urban political machine. Such is the thesis
of Phil Goodstein's new book, DIA and Other Scams.
By examining the specific developments of the Mile
High City over the past couple of generations, he
has painted a picture of modern American municipal
Volume two of author Phil Goodstein's challenging
two-volume Denver in Our Time, a look at the Mile
High City since World War II, DIA and Other Scams
starts by examining the city's racial tensions. Chapters
on the history of blacks and Chicanos in the area
link up with the controversies over school busing
in the 1960s and 1970s and the general agony of the
city's public schools. Not only did the Columbine
Massacre eventually stem from such developments, so
did the emergence of Federico Peña who shook
up the political establishment when he won the mayor's
race in 1983.
Peña is a central character in DIA and
Other Scams. Far from accepting him as a liberal,
Goodstein claims Peña is a staunch conservative,
at one with the region's most powerful bankers and
real estate interests. It is no accident the
former mayor has emerged as the representative of
a Wall Street firm, having endlessly advocated
the "public/private partnership" while in
office. In practice, this meant giving the private
sector whatever it wanted
Denver, according to DIA and Other Scams,
is a national model. Under Peña, a new urban
machine emerged, one openly appealing to residents'
race and ethnicity while serving corporate Denver.
This was the crux of how the mayor was able to push
through a new convention center and airport. The volume
is filled with specific details on the whos, whens,
wheres, and hows of the process.
In addition to chapters on the evolution of downtown,
DIA and Other Scams looks at the impact of
the neighborhood movement, debates over water policies,
and the character of the Denver Public Library. Sections
specifically deal with Peña's political
career and the background and triumph of Wellington
Most of all, as the volume's name implies, DIA
and Other Scams focuses on Denver International
Airport (DIA). Nearly one-fifth of the volume is devoted
to a detailed sketch of its origins, controversies,
and problems. Goodstein argues that far from an urgently
needed effort to improve transportation, the field
was primarily designed as a real estate speculation
ploy, one assuring worse air travel conditions for
locals. DIA also allowed city hall mass funding to
reward friends, including backers of Silverado Savings,
and strengthen the public/private partnership.
Author Phil Goodstein does not expect everybody to
agree with his views or the book's conclusions. A
self-described naysayer, he seeks to understand exactly
how the city works and who benefits from what programs.
A lively, sometimes polemical style, complete with
strong opinions, gives DIA and Other Scams
special flavoring. Goodstein, a Denver native who
holds a Ph.D. in history, has previously written such
tomes as The Seamy Side of Denver, The Ghosts
of Denver, and Denver Streets.
DIA and Other Scams is the concluding part
of Goodstein's monumental two-volume Denver in Our
Time. It takes up where volume one, Big Money in the
Big City, left off. In that work, Goodstein examined
exactly who runs Denver, the nature of 17th Street,
the reason for the city's intense sports fixation,
the impact of the oil boom and bust of the 1970s and
1980s, and the origins of lower downtown. By grasping
the city's past and the forces which have made the
present, Goodstein claims, residents can shape their
future. This is why he labels his work "a people's
history of the modern Mile High City," a book
designed to help citizens take command of their destiny.
DIA and Other Scams retails for $24.95.
It is available for $22.50, postpaid, from New Social
Publications; Box 18026; Denver 18026.
From Sand Creek to Ludlow.
Volume one of the four-volume Denver from the Bottom
Up. Denver: New Social Publications, 2003. 490 pp.
ISBN 0–9622169–9–2. $24.95. 200+
Everyday people built Denver. This is the central
message of Phil Goodstein's Denver from the Bottom
Up. The volume explores the emergence of Denver
as a city in the 19th century. Besides probing the
Pikes Peak gold rush of 1858–59 and how Colorado
achieved statehood in 1876, it looks at who settled
the city and the state. The volume focuses on the
vital role of women in the 19th century, the emergence
of a social safety net, and the way Denver became
a city worth living in.
Most of all, Denver from the Bottom Up looks
at workers. During the 1880s, the Mile High City emerged
as a vibrant trade union center. By the turn of the
20th century, Colorado was the most heavily unionized
state in the country. Such leading figures as Big
Bill Haywood and "Mother" Mary Jones were
central figures in both Denver labor battles and national
union clashes. Corporate Colorado bitterly fought
back, eventually breaking the union upsurge in the
Ludlow Massacre of April 1914.
Besides Ludlow, violence had already marred Colorado
in 1864 when the full power of the territory was turned
against peaceful Indians in the Sand Creek Massacre.
The 50 years between Sand Creek and Ludlow frame the
volume. In exploring what they meant and why, From
Sand Creek to Ludlow is the apt subtitle of the volume.
It is an indispensable source for anyone seeking an
introduction to the origins of Denver and what makes
the city tick.
From Sand Creek to Ludlow lists for $24.95.
It is available, postpaid, for $22.50 from New Social
Publications; Box 18026; Denver 80218.
Robert Speer's Denver, 1904–1920:
The Mile High City in the Progressive Era.
Volume two of the four-volume Denver from the Bottom
Up. Denver: New Social Publications, 2004. 560 pp.
ISBN 0–9742264–0–8. $24.95. 247
Despite the immense studies on American Progressivism
over the past half century, amazing gaps in the literature
remain, especially of how various provincial cities
and states responded to the reform impulse of the
early 20th century. This the subject is addressed
in great detail vis-à-vis Denver and Colorado
in Phil Goodstein's Robert Speer's Denver, 1904–1920:
The Mile High City in the Progressive Era.
Robert Speer was among the foremost urban bosses
in the pre-World War I era. His Denver machine, the
Big Mitt, was second to none in stealing votes and
delivering for its financial backers. Simultaneously,
Speer was very much an activist mayor, heavily touting
city beautiful policies. Among others, he greatly
impressed Lincoln Steffens who heralded Speer as a
Nobody was more critical of Speer than Ben Lindsey.
Starting out as a member of the Speer machine, Lindsey
rapidly turned into a critic as he crusaded for children's
issues. At the same time Lindsey collaborated with
such people as Theodore Roosevelt and Jane Addams
as he built the international juvenile court movement
based on his Denver experiences, he blasted corporate
Denver as nothing less than a vicious beast of prey
mauling the citizenry. This especially came out in
his 1910 muckraking classic, The Beast.
In 1906, Lindsey ran for governor as an independent.
Among those whom he bitterly attacked in the campaign
was the candidate of the Socialist Party, William
D. "Big Bill" Haywood, who was then incarcerated
in Idaho on the charges of plotting the assassination
of ex-Idaho Governor Frank Steunenberg. Here Mile
High politics brought together the numerous strains
of American urban and social tensions in the decades
before World War I.
Goodstein's book recognizes this, focusing on the
class biases of the different players. In addition
to analyzing the business ties of many of the Colorado
Progressives, he examines who the local socialist
and labor activists were. He also focuses on the heavy
religiosity of many of the urban reformers and looks
at how city beautiful policies affected everyday residents.
Robert Speer's Denver includes vital glimpses
at such favored Progressive programs as the abolition
of child labor, the push for Prohibition, the character
of public health, and city planning. It likewise examines
Colorado politics at a time when LaFollette's Magazine
labeled the commonwealth "probably the worst-governed
state in the Union." Women are omnipresent in
the book—Colorado was the national model of
equal suffrage in the debates over the adoption of
the 19th Amendment.
The heavily illustrated, 560-page study concludes
with a lengthy section delving into the linkages between
Progressivism and the country's involvement in World
War I. George Creel, who was Woodrow Wilson's right-hand
man in mobilizing the citizenry against Germany during
the war, had previously played a major role in Denver
Progressivism. In addition to looking at how political
leaders rallied the populace for the military effort,
Speer's Denver observes how war opponents sought to
get their message out in face of the repression of
the day. A Colorado case, that of Perley Doe, emerged
as a key Circuit Court decision upholding the legality
of the Espionage Act. This chapter also includes an
analysis of the 1918 flu pandemic, linking local and
Holding a Ph.D. in European history from the University
of Colorado, Goodstein has turned to American and
local history. More than anything, he hopes to give
the citizenry a sense of place by emphasizing traditions
and the legacy of a community which has been a highly
transient, trendy city over the past couple of generations.
Robert Speer's Denver is volume two of a
challenging trilogy, Denver from the Bottom Up,
a comprehensive social history of the Mile High City
from the Peaks Peak gold rush of 1858–59 to
World War II. Volume one, From Sand Creek to Ludlow,
covered the turbulent emergence of Denver and Colorado
in the 19th century. Volume three, slated for publication
in 2005, In the Shadow of the Klan, will
treat how the Ku Klux Klan came to dominate Denver
and Colorado in the mid-1920s.
Robert Speer's Denver lists for $24.95. It is available
for $22.50, postpaid, from New Social Publications;
Box 18026; Denver 80218.
In the Shadow of the Klan:
When the KKK Ruled Denver 1920–1926.
Volume three of the four-volume Denver from the Bottom
Up. Denver: New Social Publications, 2006. 508 pp.
ISBN 0–9742264–1–6. $24.95. 207
The Ku Klux Klan continues to haunt America. Virtually
from the first appearance of the organization in the
post–Civil War South, it has captured the attention
of the country. This was never more the case than
in the 1920s when it had somewhere between four million
and eight million members. During that epoch, it was
especially strong outside the South, controlling many
city and state governments. Nowhere was it more visible
than in Denver, Colorado.
Exactly what the Klan of the 1920s was, how it came
to sink its claws in a typical Rocky Mountain city,
and the way this related to the everyday lives of
the populace are the subjects of Phil Goodstein's
ambitious new study, In the Shadow of the Klan:
When the KKK Ruled Denver, 1920–1926. The
508-page, well-illustrated volume focuses on the fears
and hopes of residents. It shows that Denver was not
an exception to national urban trends, but very much
an exemplar of what was happening in the country as
a whole. In the process, the volume integrates Denver
developments with those of Colorado and national politics.
Prior to World War I, the Mile High City had been
a model Progressive community. It was torn apart by
the war and an extremely violent strike of streetcar
workers in August 1920. In the wake of this, demagogues
sought to blame Jews, Catholics, and immigrants for
the community's lack of direction. They were encouraged
by a wing of the Republican Party led by United States
Senator Lawrence Phipps. Many Democrats likewise encouraged
the masked minions. Not the least of their members
was the man who won election as mayor in 1923 as a
seemingly anti-Klan liberal, Benjamin Stapleton.
Ironies abound in the Klan story. The group's leading
lawyer was a Jew. The cloaked crusaders readily collaborated
with the Catholic Church in ousting internationally
acclaimed Juvenile Court Judge Ben Lindsey for his
advocacy of sexual liberalism. The law-and-order Klan
was filled with criminals, including Governor Clarence
Morley who landed up in a federal penitentiary. All
the while, a willing and compliant press allowed the
Klan to operate with little public oversight.
All these themes and more fill In the Shadow of the
Klan. The book probes the customs of Denver in the
1920s. It is volume three of Goodstein's monumental
survey of Denver from its founding during the Pikes
Peak Gold Rush in 1858–59 through World War
II, Denver from the Bottom Up. The book appeals to
both those interested in the specifics of the second
Ku Klux Klan and students of urban history.
In the Shadow of the Klan lists for $24.95.
It is available for $22.50, postpaid, from New Social
Publications; Box 18026; Denver 80218.
These are simply a sampling of the tours
and talks offered by Phil Goodstein. Call him at 303/333-1095
about booking your personal tour or talk for groups,
reunions, and other activities.