The 16th Street Mall is a pedestrian mall in downtown Denver, Colorado. The mall is a six-block area, 4 paved with granite cobblestone and 2 blocks of brick. The street is bordered on the north by Tremont Place and on the south by Cherry Creek Drive South.
The mall opened to the public in 1982 and was built at a total cost of $30 million.
It has 70 stores and 50 restaurants, as well as 20 trees from around the world and 5 water features called “A Forest of One”. In addition to shops, eateries, bars, and nightclubs, it also contains an art gallery, transit kiosks for buskers (street performers) to interact with people walking along 16th Street Mall. It is typically open seven days a week between 6:00 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.
The mall is accessible through the Denver metro area via Denver’s free MallRide bus service, which has two parallel routes with stops every few blocks that operate year-round between 6 am and 12:30 am, longer hours during business rush hours, summer evenings, and winter weekends.
Bus route #1 runs from Union Station in eastern Downtown to Civic Center station where the Colorado State Capitol Building is located; this route operates southbound during the morning commute period becoming northbound at about 10:45 am and terminates at 20th & Market Street (near Larimer Square).
The Mall Shuttle route travels along 16th Street in a loop serving all 16th Street Mall stops, operating from 6:00 am until 12:30 am. The Mall Shuttle is free of charge to everyone while the full route buses stop for passengers who pay a fare upon entry with all riders under 18 or over 65 given free rides.
Disabled access was provided by way of elevator access in 1987, making it one of the first pedestrian malls in America to make such accommodations. These elevators are now being replaced by ramps as part of a capital improvement project.
The 16th Street Mall underwent a major renovation between 2004 and 2006 at an estimated cost of $110 million, which included replacing most street trees and benches, and installing new pavers on 1st through 4th Streets refinishing granite curbs throughout the mall, and replacing the streetlights.
The streets are often crowded with pedestrians throughout the weekdays, due to nearby government offices (including City and State), businesses, hotels, skyscrapers housing offices and condominiums, theaters (The Ellie Caulkins Opera House and Bellco Theater), shopping centers (Larimer Square) and restaurants within walking distance of Union Station — Denver’s main passenger rail hub.
A few blocks away at 11th & Cherokee is where the 16th Street Free MallRide bus stops during its evening commute from Civic Center station back to Union Station. This time period typically begins around 3:30 pm until 6:00 pm daily during summer months or 8:00 am through 5:30 pm weekdays during the winter months.
11th Street in this area is also a free bus route with the Free MetroRide, which runs about every 15 minutes to 20 minutes between 11th & Broadway (on the south end) and 16th & Stout (on the north end) with a stop at 14th & California in between. The Free Metro Ride connects directly to Union Station via light rail from both ends of its route, but only on weekdays.
Weekends, the Free MallRide continues along 16th Street all way through downtown and the malls before returning back to Lincoln Avenue where it turns into South Sheridan Blvd near Stapleton International Airport as part of Denver’s new BRT system called “Transit” and the “Free MetroRide” is its flagship service, which parallels the Free MallRide on 16th Street.