Why is it called Wadsworth Boulevard?

View of a two-story brick commercial building at the corner of 58th Avenue and [Old] Wadsworth Blvd. in Arvada. (Roger Whitacre/Western History & Genealogy Dept./Denver Public Library/Z-10703)
The Intersection of Wadsworth and 5th. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite) wadsworth and 5th; dangerous intersections; denver; denverite; kevinjbeaty; lakewood; colorado;
The Intersection of Wadsworth and 5th. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

By Aimee Maravi

An average of 60,000 cars travel Wadsworth Boulevard every day, according to the city of Lakewood. Modern-day Wadsworth also hosts a few attractions like Belmar and downtown Lakewood.

It’s a major thoroughfare for the Denver metro, so where does that name come from?

Wadsworth Boulevard is named after Benjamin Franklin Wadsworth. In 1865, he moved from Empire, Colorado, to Ralston Point, which is now called Arvada. And Arvada is where Wadsworth left his mark in Colorado. 

The remains of Benjamin Wadsworth's 1859 log cabin, as seen sometime between 1920 and 1940. (Henrietta E. Bromwell/Western History & Genealogy Dept./Denver Public Library/X-6743)
The remains of Benjamin Wadsworth’s 1859 log cabin, as seen sometime between 1920 and 1940. (Henrietta E. Bromwell/Western History & Genealogy Dept./Denver Public Library/X-6743)

Wadsworth and his friend, Louis Reno, observed more and more settlers coming to Arvada intending to strike gold, according to Judy Morely’s Centennial Arvada 1904-2004. Although not many gold miners got rich, many continued to live in the area as farmers, Morely wrote. The two friends decided it would be good idea to file for township and Wadsworth’s wife chose the town name from her brother-in-law’s middle name, Arvada.

Wadsworth continued to be one of the town’s most active citizens and filed the first official town plat in 1870, which included eight mapped roads. The main street, present day Wadsworth Boulevard, was Centre Street. This was where Wadsworth encouraged merchants to set up small shops like drug stores, dressmakers, meat and shoe markets.

View of a two-story brick commercial building at the corner of 58th Avenue and [Old] Wadsworth Blvd. in Arvada. (Roger Whitacre/Western History & Genealogy Dept./Denver Public Library/Z-10703)
View of a two-story brick commercial building at the corner of 58th Avenue and [Old] Wadsworth Boulevard in Arvada. (Roger Whitacre/Western History & Genealogy Dept./Denver Public Library/Z-10703)

That same year, the railroad began to stop at Arvada, according to More than Gold, an Arvada history book. This made having a post office a possibility — and a necessity. Wadsworth took it upon himself to set up the first official post office in Arvada, becoming the first postmaster.

Centre Street became Sheridan Avenue by 1890, according to Phil Goodstein’s Denver Streets. And shortly after that, Wadsworth died in 1893.

After his death, the name of the street where Wadsworth did so much business changed again. More than a decade later, the street’s name was changed to Wadsworth Boulevard in the Arvada Map of 1904. 

Aimee Maravi is Denverite’s high school intern.