Universal Studios Hollywood
Backlot - Denver Street
History and Evolution of Denver Street
Medicine Bow Wyoming in the studio tour guide book maps was the first Denver Street on the Universal backlot. It was built by Revue Studios shortly after MCA purchased the Universal Property (1959).
Three western streets existed when the studio tour opened in 1964, namely: Six Points Texas, Denver Street, and Laramie Street.
Medicine Bow Wyoming took it's name from the TV series The Virginian. The western street was located east of the Tower of London set.
Denver Street as it stands today was constructed around 1967 following the devastating fire that year, south of the Tower of London set. As Universal is a working studio, set locations often change completely over the years. Denver Street has moved at least twice since it was first built.
When Park Lake was constructed in the 1950s, Denver Street did not exist, so this location was not used for the early silent Westerns as Universal tour guides often claim.
The street is built on 7/8 scale to make the characters seem larger than life. Like many movie sets, foam rubber and plastic takes the place of brick and stone. During shooting, glass windows were replaced with "candy glass" or sugar glass which could be easily made on the backlot, and broke into harmless soft-edged chunks.
1959 - 1967 Medicine Bow Wyoming / Denver Street
The aerial photo below clearly shows the Denver Street location to the top right of the photo, which is east of it's current location.
Denver Street - pre 1967
May 15 1967
A devastating fire destroyed the Denver and Laramie Street sets, along with much of the Little Europe area. The fire started near the sets for The VIrginian.
More about the fire
1967 - 2009 Denver Street
These photos are of the Denver Street replica that was built in 1967.
The sets are designed to remind and show visitors what the western set looked like as far back as 1915, when the silent western streets were located on the front lot.
The current Studio Tour guide script evokes the idea of the early silent Western shoots where visitors to the studio could watch movies being made. The Western Streets where this happened looked similar to Denver Street but they were in a totally different location.
Denver Street - Before 2010
To maximise the variety of sets on offer for directors, the 1967 Denver Street sets were built double-sided. In March 2008 a VIP Tour ventured to the other side of the sets, to photograph the facades not seen since the Earthquake attraction was built in 1988. The Earthquake show building was constructed very close to the Denver Street sets, so it's not been possible for these sets to be used since then. (NB: These sets were removed in 2010).
Denver Street - Double-sided sets
Stunt Show (2008)
To provide additional excitement on the Studio Tour following the loss of King Kong and the New York Streets in June 2008, stunt performers demonstrated various falls from height onto airbags and jumps, in the area at the east end of Denver Street around the large tree.
Denver Street Stunt Show
In September 2010 a large section of the street was demolished including the area used for the Stunt Show above. This area contained double-sided sets, which were left from the days before the Earthquake attraction was built (see photo gallery above). This area is now used for parking for production vehicles, mainly for the Desperate Housewives cast and crew. Colonial Street is a short golf-cart ride up the hill, and is closer to the set than the previous production base at the old Prop Plaza site. Only the large tree remains.
Denver Street - After 2010
Freight Train Station
At the west end of Denver Street you can find the Freight Train Station which along with the rest of todays Denver Street was constructed in 1967. Sitting at the station is the former Runaway Train locomotive.
When the street was first constructed, railway lines ran all the way down Denver Street, from the Train Station at the Court of Miracles, right down to the site of the Runaway Train, and beyond, towards the Front Lot.
Denver Street Train
Studio Tour Shootout
For a few years, there was a live western shootout in Denver Street for every passing tram. The text of the script below claims Denver Street was used for early Westerns - this is not the case. There was a Western Street elsewhere on the lot.
Script for Studio Tour Shootout (1999)
Productions listed below between 1962 and 1967 were shot on the first Denver Street, which was known as Medicine Bow Wyoming, after it's role in The Virginian.
After the 1967 fire, Denver Street was repositioned and rebuilt, and this is what we see on the backlot today.
Seen on Screen: Universal Studios Hollywood [Denver Street]
|Tales of Wells Fargo [TV Series]||1957-1962||Frank Gruber, Gene Reynolds, James Brooks|
|Denver Street, Stage 35|
|Wagon Train [TV Series]||1957-1965||Lawrence Menkin|
|Denver Street, Six Points Texas, Colonial Street Munster House (Kitty Pryer Story, 1963), Stage 19|
|The Virginian [TV Series]||1962-1971||Frank Price, Teddi Sherman|
|Colonial Street, Denver Street, Six Points Texas, Train Station, Stage 34|
|The Raiders [Feature Film]||1963||Herschel Daugherty|
|Three Guns for Texas [Feature Film]||1963||Earl Bellamy, David Lowell Rich|
|Laredo [TV Series]||1965-1967|
|Denver Street, Stage 35|
|Pistols 'n' Petticoats [TV Series]||1966-1967||George Tibbles|
|Alias Smith and Jones [TV Series]||1971-1973||Glen A. Larson|
|Denver Street, Old Mexico, Six Points Texas, Train Station, Stage 36|
|Hec Ramsey [TV Series]||1972-1974||Harold Jack Bloom|
|Quincy M.E. [TV Series]||1976-1983||Glen A. Larson, Lou Shaw|
|Apartments, Colonial Street, Denver Street, New York Street, Stage 25|
|Knight Rider [TV Series]||1982 - 1986||Glen A. Larson|
|Along with soundstages, the backlot was used extensively including Colonial Street, Courthouse Square, Denver Street, Boragora and Six Points Texas. Stage 28 appeared in Season 4 Fright Knight episode. Stage 01 was also used.|
|Voyagers! [TV Series]||1982-1983||James D. Parriott|
|Colonial Street, Denver Street, Little Europe, Train Station, Mediterranean Square, Old Mexico, Square of Warriors, Collapsing Bridge (pilot)|
|Airwolf [TV Series]||1984-1986||Donald P. Bellisario|
|Colonial Street (Cleaver House), Colonial Street Church, Denver Street, Little Europe, New York Street, Six Points Texas, Square of Warriors, Tower of London backlot sets, Stage 14 [helicopter interior mockup], Stage 20 [process shots], Stage 24 [Hawke Cabin set], Stage 27 [The Lair hideout], Stage 28 [process shots]|
|Blacke's Magic [TV Series]||1986||Peter S. Fischer, Richard Levinson, William Link|
|Sliders [TV Series]||1995-2000||Tracy Tormè, Robert K. Weiss|
|Denver Street, Mediterranean Square, Little Europe|
|Big Fat Liar [Feature Film]||2002||Shawn Levy|
|Stage 01, Stage 34, Prop Warehouse, Flash Flood, Denver Street, Psycho House|
|Michael Buble: Hollywood [Music Video]||2010||Rich Lee|
|New York Street, Front Lot, Denver Street all feature in this video.|
Additional Seen on Screen 1962 to 1967 - First Denver Street
- The Brazen Bell (1962) ( Virginian TV/ Movie)
- Bullet for a Badman (1964) Movie
- To be confirmed:
- Barn appeared as the home of Francis the Talking Mule (1950)
- The Spoilers (1942)
Additional resources from Dickens Archive
http://www.flickr.com/photos/universalstonecutter/2595669195/ after the 1967 fire two side facades
http://www.flickr.com/photos/universalstonecutter/3297872449/ aerial after 1967 south of the castle
http://www.flickr.com/photos/universalstonecutter/4149100795/ aerial 1964 east of the castle
http://www.flickr.com/photos/universalstonecutter/3430970876/ aerial of the three western streets on the studio tour
LIFE Sep 7, 1959
http://www.flickr.com/photos/universalstonecutter/3506351631/ Laramie street