Today’s post was written by Claire Wehking, Archives Technician at the National Archives at Denver, Colorado.
Preliminary results of the 1950 Census of Housing were published in a series of reports, HC-1, HC-2, HC-3, HC-4, and HC-5 and were based on preliminary counts. The preliminary counts of dwelling units in Colorado as of April 1st, 1950 were released in Series HC-1, Number 19. According to the table in this bulletin, the 1950 preliminary count was 134,225 dwelling units in the city and county of Denver, compared to the 101,143 dwelling units counted in the 1940 Census. As reported by the Preliminary
Report Series HC-5, Number 4, the metropolitan areas in the South and West had the largest proportionate population gains, and the amount of owner occupied dwelling units in Denver county increased to 55 percent in 1950, which grew from 42 percent in 1940, as shown by Table A.
Unless otherwise stated, this article covers the statistics of the Denver Standard Metropolitan Area, which comprises Adams, Arapahoe, Denver, and Jefferson counties.
In the Census of Housing: 1950 publication, Volume I, General Characteristics, Part 2, Section 5, Colorado as a whole is covered by different charts with statistical figures. Denver and Pueblo are listed as Colorado’s two standard metropolitan areas, but other cities, such as Fort Collins, Grand Junction, and Colorado Springs, are listed simply as urban places. The Denver metro area had 181,410 dwelling units, 172,104 of which were occupied, with an average of 2.7 people living in each unit (listed in Table 19). Of
these dwelling units, Table 17 reported that 158,387 dwellings (around 87%) had hot and cold piped running water inside the structure, 140,601 dwellings (around 78%) had exclusive access to a flushable toilet inside the structure, and 132,445 dwellings (around 73%) had exclusive access to an installed bathtub or shower.
The 1950 Census also had some sample questions which were asked to 20% of the population, and Table 20 in Census of Housing: 1950 publication, Volume I, General Characteristics, Part 2, Section 5, Colorado lists the projected statistics based on the answers from the 20%. These statistics in the Denver metro area included electric lighting with an estimated 175,540 dwellings who have electric lights (almost 99%), heating equipment and fuel with an estimated 169,485 dwellings with some form of heating equipment and heating fuel (split between central heating with 125,615 dwellings and non-central heating with 43,870 dwellings), refrigeration equipment with 140,730 dwellings having a mechanical refrigerator (about 83%), radio with 165,090 dwellings in possession of a radio (about 97%), kitchen sinks with 158,225 dwellings in possession of a kitchen sink (about 94%), and television with only 1,085 dwellings reporting having a television (less than 1%). The median contract rent for renter-occupied dwelling units in the Denver metro area in 1950 (listed in Table 21) was $38.94, which would be equal to $468.13 in 2022 money.
In the Census of Housing: 1950 publication, Volume II, Nonfarm Housing Characteristics, Part 1, Section 10, Colorado is covered as a part of the Mountain Division along with Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, and Nevada. This Volume only has aggregate numbers which comprise the whole division being covered. As reported by Table B, the median number of persons living in a dwelling in the region was 3.3, which is higher than the median number of persons living in a dwelling in the Denver metro area in 1950, 2.7. In the Census of Housing: 1950 publication, Volume II, Nonfarm Housing Characteristics, Part 2, Denver is covered as one of the standard metropolitan areas. The Denver Standard Metropolitan Area comprises Adams, Arapahoe, Denver, and Jefferson counties. The median number of persons living in owner-occupied units was 3.1 (Table A-4), while the median number of persons living in renter occupied units was 2.3 (Table A-2). For renter-occupied units, women were more likely to be head of the household than owner-occupied units at 26%, while almost 74% of the head of households were men, and 83% of the men were married men with their wives present and no non-relatives in the dwelling (Table B-3). For owner-occupied units, 14% of the head of households were women, while 86% of the head of households were men, and almost 90 % of the men were married men with their wives present and no non-relatives in the dwelling (Table B-9).
In the Census of Housing: 1950 publication, Volume V, Block Statistics, Part 3, Denver’s statistics were divided and listed by block. Maps, which contain the key for where the blocks are located, are included in the back of this publication. These maps have cross streets, lines for tract boundaries, tract numbers, and block numbers. This publication includes other major cities as well in the other parts and would be most helpful for individuals wanting to do research on specific people, as it shows the more specific statistics on housing for each area of the city, which can give researchers a better understanding of the areas people were living in in 1950.
These publications can be found here: https://www.census.gov/programs-surveys/decennial-census/decade/decennial-publications.1950.html and https://www.census.gov/library/publications.html (filter by year, select 1950-1959).