Silverton, Colorado (originally known as Baker's Park), and Notorious Blair Street, in particular, has an extremely boisterous and very rowdy past. A number of dance halls, saloons, and bordellos sprang up with the sole purpose of catering to the areas miners.
Back during Silverton Colorado's ore extraction heyday, an imaginary dividing line down the middle of Silverton's main street separated the town between its respectable "Society" side west of Greene and its east side. The segment of town from the intersection of Blair and 10th, north to 14th became known as the "notorious" section of town. Guess which side of the dividing line Blair Street happens to be on?
Of course, its no coincidence that Silverton's Notorious Blair Street evolved into the red light district of town. Histories of this colorful aspect of Silverton's past are littered with adventures and misadventures of prostitutes, or soiled doves as they were often referred to, and their clientele.
These include fights between Prostitutes and their "Johns", knock down drag out affairs of Johns vs. Johns, nasty little scratching matches involving one Prostitute against another, and even Prostitutes matched up against the town's so-called honest residents. We say "honest" since some town officials weren't exactly fine upstanding examples of morality.
Prostitution and gambling contributed heavily to the towns coffers. Each prostitute was required to pay a fine of $5 a month; so condemning this steady source of revenue wasn't always the shrewdest way for a politician to govern. "Don't bite the hand that feeds you", as the old saying goes. Therefore, looking the other way seemed to be a more appropriate course of action.
The four-block area of Silverton Colorado's Notorious Blair Street was the epicenter of it all. At one time in 1883, the town had approximately 117 Prostitutes. Those operating out of "cribs" and boarding houses on Notorious Blair Street represented roughly 3/4 of the town's "working girl" population. The number of dance halls and saloons was equally prodigious, conjecture has it at 29. Almost every one of them located on the "notorious" side of town.
Silverton's Miners coming into town to blow their hard earned cash knew exactly where to go for a bit of excitement, to quench their thirst, and to satisfy their baser instincts. Was it to the more respectable side of town? Then again, one has to think it's not really all that odd that all of Silverton's churches are located west of Greene Street?
These remnants of Silverton Colorado's past have disappeared, but many of the modern day buildings on Notorious Blair Street still exist as testaments to the street's colorful past. Visitors to Silverton are highly encouraged to explore for themselves, and delving into the history of Blair Street often involves the simple act of just walking down the street and talking to one of its many merchants. History comes alive as a rich and colorful tapestry of the way things used to be.
As more questions are asked, the history of Notorious Blair Street unfolds before your very eyes and imagination. A piece of the past that may have disappeared in some ways, yet still exists in others.