Five Points is one of Denver’s oldest neighborhoods. Its rich history dates back to the 1860s’ when European immigrants occupied the area. During the 20th century, it was known as the “Harlem of the West” and home to the city’s black community. Today, Five Points preserves its history by hosting popular community celebrations like Juneteenth and the Five Points Jazz Festival.

FirstBank observes Black History Month by celebrating one of the communities it serves with five facts about Five Points you might not know:

What’s in a Name?

“Five Points” got its name because of the five-way intersection at Welton Street, Washington Street, 27th Street, and East 26th Avenue. All of the names were too much to fit onto one sign, so it was shortened to Five Points in 1881.

Famous Attorney

In 1919 Samuel Cary became the state’s first licensed Black attorney and established his office in Five Points. Cary graduated from law school at Washburn University, and moved to Denver with his wife and two kids, eventually establishing his office in the north Denver neighborhood. In 1926, Samuel was disbarred due to false accusations. His license was reinstated in 1935. He was later honored with the founding of the Sam Cary Bar Association, a legal network of Black attorneys throughout the United States.

City’s First Black Fire Station

In 1893 Denver Fire Station No. 3, located near the heart of the neighborhood, became the city’s first all Black fire station. In March of 1895, four African-American firemen lost their lives fighting a fire at St. James Hotel. It’s the oldest and smallest operating fire station within the Denver Fire Department.

Doctor, Doctor…

Justina Ford was the city’s only Black woman physician. She treated a mix of Black, Caucasian, Korean, Japanese, Latino, and Hispanic patients during her 50 year career in the Five Points neighborhood. She faced many obstacles throughout her career, being both African American and a female in the medical field. Despite that, she was determined to bring medical services to the disadvantaged. 

Famed Jazz Club

The Rossonian Lounge, a popular jazz club in Five Points, hosted a long list of distinguished musicians including Duke EllingtonCount BasieBillie Holiday, Miles Davis, Ella Fitzgerald, and Nat King Cole. The club originally opened as the Baxter Hotel. In 1929, it came under Black management and was renamed the Rossonian after manager A. W. L. Ross. It became one of the most important jazz clubs between the Midwest and West Coast.

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