I'm a little late to the question, but maybe it will be helpful for someone:
I've lived in Barnum West for about six years, and here's my take on Barnum and Barnum West:
1. Architecture. We live in one of the brick post-war veteran's cottages built around 1950. I adore our house and its beautiful architecture. Our living room has these amazing rounded edges on the tops of the walls where they meet the ceiling. And, our doorways have the most graceful arches. We even have *telephone nooks*. I love having such a large yard for gardening -- a rare and beautiful thing so close to the city. There are so many adorable houses in this neighborhood, though admittedly some are in need of a little more care than they've gotten. Very few of the houses are "big" by American standards though, so if you're looking for a very big home for a very big family, or a house that has a master suite with walk-in closets, this may not be the neighborhood for you.
2. Location. It takes me about 12 minutes to drive to the capitol building/art museum every morning -- in heavy traffic. It takes around 6 minutes to drive to Belmar, and maybe 15 minutes to the foothills. For driving, you couldn't even imagine a better location. Within 30 minutes walking distance, we have the light rail, several small grocery stores, a library, a couple of convenience stores, a couple of parks, and a huge number of locally owned restaurants and bakeries -- even two microbreweries. I suppose Dandy Dan's is also within walking distance if you're into that sort of thing.
3. Shadiness? Speaking of Dandy Dan's, this part of Denver in general does have a lot more poverty than other areas, though Barnum and Barnum West are a little better off than the surrounding neighborhoods. Those houses that do look a bit under the weather? They probably look that way because the folks who live there have far bigger problems in life than when they're going to touch up their house paint or reseed their lawn. And Federal Blvd. is maybe one of the hip places in town to deal illegal drugs. The walls around the creek do get tagged pretty often. That said, I moved into the neighborhood as a 25 year old white girl and I've never felt unsafe here, either in my house or walking around alone late at night or early in the morning. Folks outside their houses wave hello as I pass, neighbors chat with me when we're out gardening in the summer. etc. Last I heard, for Barnum and Barnum West, the crime rate isn't any higher than Denver in general.
I recently started a blog to keep tabs on all the new developments in the area and gather together some handy info for all of the new kids moving into the neighborhood (house tours, restaurant reviews, photos, links, etc.). So, if you're looking for more info, please feel free to drop by: http://www.welcometobarnum.blogspot.com... more