Test your Aspen knowledge
It was Saturday morning and I had no clue where I was. Back in my rowdier days, it was fairly standard to not know where I had ended up after a crazy Friday night.But now I have responsibilities. So there I was working behind the front desk at the Aspen Athletic Club when a guest called and asked where the club was located. “We are basically behind Johnny McGuire’s,” I answered. “Where’s that?” the guest replied. “Oh, sorry. By City Market,” I said. The woman on the other end of the phone didn’t appreciate my vague navigational techniques. I finally was able to pinpoint our exact location: 720 E. Hyman Ave., at the corner of Hyman and Original. Even that took several locals at the gym to tell me where we were exactly.It occurred to me then that most locals have no clue where they are. Our lack of knowledge when it comes to street names is an unexplained phenomenon that many locals admit to. We rely on landmarks, typically a bar or restaurant, to navigate visitors through the streets of downtown Aspen. Ask a local where something is and they’ll tell you it’s a couple of blocks away and near a business they are familiar with. If you ask an old-timer, they’ll tell you it’s by something that used to be there. “It’s by the old Howling Wolf, you know where Genre … Harry’s Velvet Room … Thai Tini … used to be … I think it’s called Lu Lu something now. Anyway, it’s by LaCo.”It’s astounding that we can operate this way. Most of us are in the service industry and we should be able to give detailed directions. Since our town is so compact, we can get away with our flawed sense of direction and rely on our favorite landmarks to get around.The only problem is that the offseason shuffle of businesses moving around town in an expensive game of musical chairs throws us off. Looking at a city map even a year old will do you no good because many of the establishments have either closed or relocated a few streets away.When I was a newspaper editor, I used to challenge new reporters’ knowledge by giving them a verbal test (usually over a few beers at the Flying Dog, which then became Howling Wolf’s second location and a few other things before Noori’s moved in, which used to be on Hopkins Avenue). I wasn’t about to jeopardize our credibility by letting my “freshman” imports spell a street name wrong or screw up a crucial piece of Aspen history.That’s why I thought the Aspen Historical Society’s “Aspen History 101” was a good idea. The event debuted in December and was designed for the Aspen newcomer. It was an informational multimedia session full of stories, characters, old photos and film clips about Aspen’s colorful and sometimes unbelievable history. The event will be held again on March 27 at the Wheeler Opera house.The Historical Society’s belief is the more we know about our past the more we become connected to the present and the more “buy-in” new arrivals will experience.I agree, but I will go a step further and be a bit more pragmatic in approaching our history by testing your knowledge of local businesses, which, after all, have been the lifeblood of Aspen since the beginning of time here.I’ve tapped into my own arsenal of local historians who had some fun strolling down memory lane to assist me in creating the newest form of an Aspen history lesson.So from one of the longest-operating businesses in Aspen and one of my many employers, the Aspen Athletic Club is sponsoring “Aspen Underground History 101.”An exceptional example of staying power, the AAC has been in the same location since its inception 31 years ago and has been owned by the same people for more than two decades. The AAC wants to give my readers a brain workout by offering a one-month membership to the first person who can most accurately answer the following questions. Submissions are due Friday, March 23 at noon. Please feel free to highlight the era/years in which these businesses existed, or any stories and notables you might have about them. You will be graded partially on the level of detail you provide. The winner, answers and stories will be printed next Tuesday, March 27.1) Which bar/restaurant is the oldest that has remained in the same location and has always been a bar?2) Where and what was “Al Phillips”?3) What was “Mom’s”? Where was it located?4) What was Aspen’s first head shop called? Where was it located?5) What did Stage 3 used to be called?6) Who used to own the Isis?7) Where was Crossroads Market located? What else was in that location?8) Where was The Steak Pit’s first location? What else was there?9) What is the name of the restaurant where the Roaring Fork and Spoon used to be?10) Where was Milan’s first location?11) Where was Down Under located?12) What is located where the Shaft used to be?13) What used to be where the Caribou Club is now (specifically the room to the right of the bar)?14) What is the name of the business where Vacation Resorts Hotel used to be?15) What was the name of the bar underneath the Hotel Jerome?16) Name both locations of Little Cliffs.17) Where was Tom’s Market?18) Who was the famous person who owned The Ski Lodge and what is it called now?19) Where and what was the Parlor Car?20) Name in sequential order the establishments that used be where Jimmy’s is now.Extra credit: Name five businesses that have remained in the same location for more than two decades. Name the businesses that were in the Brand Building before it was turned into upscale shops. Name a business that has moved more than five times and its locations. List the businesses that have been in the basement level of 517 E. Hopkins (the Daily News building.)E-mail your answers to email@example.com.
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