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Backlot - Denver Street

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 area between Denver Street and Park Lake used to be the site of the Tower of London set, but this was replaced in 1989 with the Earthquake attraction.

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

1 - Medicine Bow Wyoming - Denver street (courtesy Dickens Archive)
1 - Medicine Bow Wyoming - Denver street (courtesy Dickens Archive) theStudioTour.com
 2 - Aerial photo of the Denver Street (Medicine Bow Wyoming) area on the right - 1963 - (c) Life Magazine, by John Dominis (thanks to Dickens Archive)
2 - Aerial photo of the Denver Street (Medicine Bow Wyoming) area on the right - 1963 - (c) Life Magazine, by John Dominis (thanks to Dickens Archive) theStudioTour.com
 3 - Publicity postcard of the Medicine Bow Wyoming set in use (c.1964) (thanks to Dickens Archive)
3 - Publicity postcard of the Medicine Bow Wyoming set in use (c.1964) (thanks to Dickens Archive) theStudioTour.com
 4 - Postcard showing the reverse side of the facades (thanks to Dickens Archive)
4 - Postcard showing the reverse side of the facades (thanks to Dickens Archive) theStudioTour.com
 5 - View from the tram (1966) (thanks to Dickens Archive)
5 - View from the tram (1966) (thanks to Dickens Archive) theStudioTour.com
 6 - Postcard of the Medicine Bow train station (thanks to Dickens Archive)
6 - Postcard of the Medicine Bow train station (thanks to Dickens Archive) theStudioTour.com
  

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

Denver Street - Before 2010 - 61 - View of the north side of Denver Street (April 2007) (c) theStudioTour.com
Denver Street - Before 2010 - View of the north side of Denver Street (April 2007) (c) theStudioTour.com
 Denver Street - Before 2010 - 62 - View of the north side of Denver Street (March 2008) (c) theStudioTour.com
Denver Street - Before 2010 - View of the north side of Denver Street (March 2008) (c) theStudioTour.com
 Denver Street - Before 2010 - 63 - View of the north side of Denver Street (March 2008) (c) theStudioTour.com
Denver Street - Before 2010 - View of the north side of Denver Street (March 2008) (c) theStudioTour.com
 Denver Street - Before 2010 - 64 - View of the north side of Denver Street, including the large tree (March 2008) (c) theStudioTour.com
Denver Street - Before 2010 - View of the north side of Denver Street, including the large tree (March 2008) (c) theStudioTour.com
 Denver Street - Before 2010 - 65 - View of the north east end of Denver Street, including the large tree (March 2008) (c) theStudioTour.com
Denver Street - Before 2010 - View of the north east end of Denver Street, including the large tree (March 2008) (c) theStudioTour.com
 Denver Street - Before 2010 - 66 - View of the north east end of Denver Street (March 2008) (c) theStudioTour.com
Denver Street - Before 2010 - View of the north east end of Denver Street (March 2008) (c) theStudioTour.com
 Denver Street - Before 2010 - 67 - View of the north side of Denver Street (March 2008) (c) theStudioTour.com
Denver Street - Before 2010 - View of the north side of Denver Street (March 2008) (c) theStudioTour.com
 Denver Street - Before 2010 - 68 - View of the north side of Denver Street (March 2008) (c) theStudioTour.com
Denver Street - Before 2010 - View of the north side of Denver Street (March 2008) (c) theStudioTour.com
 Denver Street - Before 2010 - 69 - View of the north east end of Denver Street (March 2008) (c) theStudioTour.com
Denver Street - Before 2010 - View of the north east end of Denver Street (March 2008) (c) theStudioTour.com
 Denver Street - Before 2010 - 70 - View of the north east end of Denver Street (March 2008) (c) theStudioTour.com
Denver Street - Before 2010 - View of the north east end of Denver Street (March 2008) (c) theStudioTour.com
 Denver Street - Before 2010 - 71 - View of the south side of Denver Street (March 2008) (c) theStudioTour.com
Denver Street - Before 2010 - View of the south side of Denver Street (March 2008) (c) theStudioTour.com
 Denver Street - Before 2010 - 72 - View of the south side of Denver Street (March 2008) (c) theStudioTour.com
Denver Street - Before 2010 - View of the south side of Denver Street (March 2008) (c) theStudioTour.com
 Denver Street - Before 2010 - 73 - View of the church at the south western end of Denver Street (March 2008) (c) theStudioTour.com
Denver Street - Before 2010 - View of the church at the south western end of Denver Street (March 2008) (c) theStudioTour.com
   

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

Denver Street - Double-sided sets - 31 - The reverse side of the Denver Street sets (March 2008) (c) theStudioTour.com
Denver Street - Double-sided sets - The reverse side of the Denver Street sets (March 2008) (c) theStudioTour.com
 Denver Street - Double-sided sets - 32 - The reverse side of the Denver Street sets (March 2008) (c) theStudioTour.com
Denver Street - Double-sided sets - The reverse side of the Denver Street sets (March 2008) (c) theStudioTour.com
 Denver Street - Double-sided sets - 33 - The reverse side of the Denver Street sets (March 2008) (c) theStudioTour.com
Denver Street - Double-sided sets - The reverse side of the Denver Street sets (March 2008) (c) theStudioTour.com
 Denver Street - Double-sided sets - 34 - The reverse side of the Denver Street sets (March 2008) (c) theStudioTour.com
Denver Street - Double-sided sets - The reverse side of the Denver Street sets (March 2008) (c) theStudioTour.com
 Denver Street - Double-sided sets - 35 - The reverse side of the Denver Street sets (March 2008) (c) theStudioTour.com
Denver Street - Double-sided sets - The reverse side of the Denver Street sets (March 2008) (c) theStudioTour.com
 Denver Street - Double-sided sets - 36 - The reverse side of the Denver Street sets (March 2008) (c) theStudioTour.com
Denver Street - Double-sided sets - The reverse side of the Denver Street sets (March 2008) (c) theStudioTour.com
 Denver Street - Double-sided sets - 37 - Interior of a Denver Street set (March 2008) (c) theStudioTour.com
Denver Street - Double-sided sets - Interior of a Denver Street set (March 2008) (c) theStudioTour.com
 Denver Street - Double-sided sets - 38 - The reverse side of the Denver Street sets (March 2008) courtesy Dickens Archive
Denver Street - Double-sided sets - The reverse side of the Denver Street sets (March 2008) courtesy Dickens Archive
 

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

1 - Denver Street Stunt Show, September 2008 (c) theStudioTour.com
1 - Denver Street Stunt Show, September 2008 (c) theStudioTour.com theStudioTour.com
 2 - Denver Street Stunt Show, September 2008 (c) theStudioTour.com
2 - Denver Street Stunt Show, September 2008 (c) theStudioTour.com theStudioTour.com
 3 - Denver Street Stunt Show, September 2008 (c) theStudioTour.com
3 - Denver Street Stunt Show, September 2008 (c) theStudioTour.com theStudioTour.com
 4 - Denver Street Stunt Show, September 2008 (c) theStudioTour.com
4 - Denver Street Stunt Show, September 2008 (c) theStudioTour.com theStudioTour.com
   

2010 Development

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

Denver Street - After 2010 - 51 - Tram entering the shortened Denver Street (April 2012) (c) theStudioTour.com
Denver Street - After 2010 - Tram entering the shortened Denver Street (April 2012) (c) theStudioTour.com
 Denver Street - After 2010 - 52 - Denver Street (Sept 2011) (c) theStudioTour.com
Denver Street - After 2010 - Denver Street (Sept 2011) (c) theStudioTour.com
 Denver Street - After 2010 - 53 - Trailers parked where there were sets (Sept 2011) (c) theStudioTour.com
Denver Street - After 2010 - Trailers parked where there were sets (Sept 2011) (c) theStudioTour.com
 Denver Street - After 2010 - 54 - East end of Denver Street (Sept 2011) (c) theStudioTour.com
Denver Street - After 2010 - East end of Denver Street (Sept 2011) (c) theStudioTour.com
 Denver Street - After 2010 - 55 - South side of Denver Street (April 2010) (c) theStudioTour.com
Denver Street - After 2010 - South side of Denver Street (April 2010) (c) theStudioTour.com
 Denver Street - After 2010 - 56 - Denver Street from the Earthquake entrance, showing the lack of sets around the tree (Sept 2011) (c) theStudioTour.com
Denver Street - After 2010 - Denver Street from the Earthquake entrance, showing the lack of sets around the tree (Sept 2011) (c) theStudioTour.com
   

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

21 - Train on Denver Street, March 2008 (c) theStudioTour.com
21 - Train on Denver Street, March 2008 (c) theStudioTour.com theStudioTour.com
 22 - Train on Denver Street, 2010 (c) theStudioTour.com
22 - Train on Denver Street, 2010 (c) theStudioTour.com theStudioTour.com
 23 - Train tracks behind Denver Street linking the train stations, 2011 (c) theStudioTour.com
23 - Train tracks behind Denver Street linking the train stations, 2011 (c) theStudioTour.com theStudioTour.com
 24 - Train tracks behind Denver Street linking the train stations, 2010 (c) theStudioTour.com
24 - Train tracks behind Denver Street linking the train stations, 2010 (c) theStudioTour.com theStudioTour.com
  

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)

The colorful history of the studio began on this street, with Carl Laemmle, the studio's founder, supervising the production of over 200 movies each year. Later, great westerns like Destry with Audie Murphy, and The Spoilers with John Wayne filmed here setting the tone for many western movies to follow.

(When you reach the middle of Denver Street continue with the following lines.)

This street was actually modelled after a turn of the century gold rush town. In fact, just around the corner we'll be able to see the set of an old abandoned gold mine...

(This should be timed so you're mentioning the gold mine set as the tram reaches the middle of Denver Street. NOTE: It is important to deliver the "abandoned gold mine" line, as it is the cue for the BAD GUY to begin the show.)

(BAD GUY fires his gun)

BAD GUY
I don't think you'll be going to that gold mine if you know what's good for you. Now what do we have here... this here is the biggest horseless carriage I ever did see! Alright everybody, get your wallets and jewelry out, this is a stick up!

(BAD GUY fires second shot in the air)

GOOD GUY
(appearing at the Saloon door)
Who's making all that racket? You're interrupting my poker game.

BAD GUY
Well partner, I'm robbing these nice folks and I don't appreciate this interruption.

GOOD GUY
Clanton, I thought I told you to stay outta my town.

(He begins moving into showdown position; hand near gun)

BAD GUY
Well I'm not quite done with this town yet. There's still gold to be had and I'm gonna be the one havin' it.

(Theme from "THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY" plays as they face off for the showdown. They draw and fire, the GOOD GUY hits the BAD GUY in the shoulder. The BAD GUY yells in pain and runs off, escaping into the Tack and Feed store)

GOOD GUY
Well folks, I don't think you'll have any more trouble here, you can just keep moving through our lovely town.

(He stretches with his pistol overhead)

(Guide responds)

Thanks Sheriff, we really appreciate your help.

(BAD GUY appears on the balcony of the Tack and Feed store)

Look out Sheriff!

BAD GUY
(overlapping)

Sheriff!

(He aims at the GOOD GUY. The GOOD GUY gets startled and the gun over his head goes off and hits the BAD GUY. The BAD GUY stumbles and falls into the hay bales in front of the store.)


GOOD GUY
Um well, as I was saying, I don't think you'll have any more trouble here. You're safe to move on your way. Enjoy your day here at Universal Studios Hollywood!

(Guide tags encounter)

How about a hand for the Sheriff and the Bad Guy. Nice job, guys!

Productions

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]

TitleReleasedDirectorIMDB
Tales of Wells Fargo [TV Series]1957-1962Frank Gruber, Gene Reynolds, James BrooksIMDB Database page about Tales of Wells Fargo
Denver Street, Stage 35
Wagon Train [TV Series]1957-1965Lawrence MenkinIMDB Database page about Wagon Train
Denver Street, Six Points Texas, Colonial Street Munster House (Kitty Pryer Story, 1963), Stage 19
The Virginian [TV Series]1962-1971Frank Price, Teddi ShermanIMDB Database page about The Virginian
Colonial Street, Denver Street, Six Points Texas, Train Station, Stage 34
The Raiders [Feature Film]1963Herschel DaughertyIMDB Database page about The Raiders
Denver Street
Three Guns for Texas [Feature Film]1963Earl Bellamy, David Lowell RichIMDB Database page about Three Guns for Texas
Denver Street
Laredo [TV Series]1965-1967IMDB Database page about Laredo
Denver Street, Stage 35
Pistols 'n' Petticoats [TV Series]1966-1967George TibblesIMDB Database page about Pistols
Denver Street
Alias Smith and Jones [TV Series]1971-1973Glen A. LarsonIMDB Database page about Alias Smith and Jones
Denver Street, Old Mexico, Six Points Texas, Train Station, Stage 36
Hec Ramsey [TV Series]1972-1974Harold Jack BloomIMDB Database page about Hec Ramsey
Denver Street
Quincy M.E. [TV Series]1976-1983Glen A. Larson, Lou ShawIMDB Database page about Quincy M.E.
Apartments, Colonial Street, Denver Street, New York Street, Stage 25
Knight Rider [TV Series]1982 - 1986Glen A. LarsonIMDB Database page about Knight Rider
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]1982-1983James D. ParriottIMDB Database page about Voyagers!
Colonial Street, Denver Street, Little Europe, Train Station, Mediterranean Square, Old Mexico, Square of Warriors, Collapsing Bridge (pilot)
Airwolf [TV Series]1984-1986Donald P. BellisarioIMDB Database page about Airwolf
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]1986Peter S. Fischer, Richard Levinson, William LinkIMDB Database page about Blacke
Denver Street
Sliders [TV Series]1995-2000Tracy Tormè, Robert K. WeissIMDB Database page about Sliders
Denver Street, Mediterranean Square, Little Europe
Big Fat Liar [Feature Film]2002Shawn LevyIMDB Database page about Big Fat Liar
Stage 01, Stage 34, Prop Warehouse, Flash Flood, Denver Street, Psycho House
Michael Buble: Hollywood [Music Video]2010Rich Lee
New York Street, Front Lot, Denver Street all feature in this video.

Additional Seen on Screen  1962 to 1967 - First Denver Street

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

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