3.0 out of 10

Elyria / Swansea

39.7816836584928 -104.95640207848
Great for
  • Cost of Living
  • Peace & Quiet
  • Safe & Sound
Not great for
  • Gym & Fitness
  • Lack of Traffic
  • Neighborly Spirit
  • Nightlife
  • Parks & Recreation
Who lives here?
  • Hipsters


2/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 1/5
  • Safe & Sound 2/5
  • Clean & Green 1/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 1/5
  • Nightlife 1/5
  • Parks & Recreation 1/5
  • Shopping Options 1/5
  • Gym & Fitness 1/5
  • Lack of Traffic 1/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 1/5
  • Public Transport 1/5
  • Schools 1/5

"Gritty and industrial"

This nighborhood is frankly pretty depressing. It's gray. It's concrete, chain link, and corrugated metal. It contains old stretches of major highways, old factories, old houses, and old warehouses. Actually, I'm not one to have that knee-jerk reaction that factories and industrial development are ugly. Some of the factories out here are fascinating and beautiful. They are mini-cityscapes with a variety of shapes, plumes of pure white steam, covered with lights at night. Production in its purest form.
But the surrounding area has been depressed for decades, and appears buried under years of grime and stagnation. And, frankly, it literally stinks most of the time. This is due to the presence of the Purina factory here. (Or whatever dog food brand it is now--I've noticed the Purina checkerboard logo has not been visible for quite some time now.) Stick your nose into a dog food bag and take a deep whiff. That's what this neighborhood smells like. In fact, that's what the city smells like when the weather's right. National reporters who come here for the Stock Show each January have come away with the impression of Denver as a dank, smelly city because this is the site of the colisseum where the show is held. And that (the National Western Stock Show and Rodeo) is the only reason most Denver residents ever actually come to this neighborhood.
If you like truly industrial grit, and low property values, then go for it. But this is the last place that most people would want to live.
Recommended for
  • Hipsters
2/5 rating details
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 1/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 2/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5

"In the shadow of I-70"

The most noticeable thing about Elyria/Swansea is the extent of industrial development. I-70 runs through the neighborhood, and there are many large manufacturers including the Pepsi bottling plant and the stockyards and pet food plant that scent Denver for miles around when the wind is right. Trains chug through the neighborhood. Dozens of parked trucks idle overnight at the truck stop, pouring exhaust into the air.

Off the main highway and industrial routes, however, the historic neighborhood emerges. Elyria and Swansea began as distinct towns in the late 1800s, settled by Slavic and Welsh immigrants. Today, many of these small, historic houses remain. Elyria, however, is struggling today, as the recession has hit the area hard. The vast majority of the area’s children qualify for free or reduced school lunch, there is some crime and gang activity in the area, and many public services and amenities have been cut and businesses have pulled up stakes. With the area’s historic roots, old, inexpensive homes, and relative proximity to downtown, the area might have potential for a renaissance, but the recession and the overbearing (and odoriferous) presence of heavy industry keep many away.

One of these massive, odoriferous complexes, however, is a well-known and respected neighborhood anchor. This is the National Western complex located off of Brighton Blvd. Best known for hosting Denver’s annual Stock Show, this area bustles – and draws crowds to Elyria/Swansea – in January. Much more than just a cattle show and sale, the Stock Show features nightly and matinee rodeos, exhibitions, a bewilderingly large vendor pavilion, horse shows, dog trials, and a petting zoo. It’s an extremely spectator-friendly way for locals and visitors to draw close to Denver’s cow-town roots. Year round, the National Western complex hosts everything from horse shows to concerts and monster truck rallies.
  • historic character
  • very affordable
  • relatively close to downtown by car
  • struggling neighborhood, some poverty/crime
  • heavy industry

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