A Palette of Opportunity
Denver’s military payroll grew from $3 million in 1939 to $152 million at the war’s end. No place is more evident of the impact of returning soldiers on Denver’s mid-century growth explosion than here in Chaffee Park. At a time when veterans urgently wanted housing, the subdivision builders of the time complied. The entire Chaffee Park neighborhood is nothing but late 1940’s homes built to accommodate post-war, Denver growth. Here’s my write-up of our Chaffee Park urban hiking adventure.
Gentrification Is Coming
Bounded by I70 to the south, Denver county’s line to the north at 52nd, Federal to the west and the rail yard to the east, this original suburb has yet to escape the flipping and scrapping boom of its neighbors to the south. But the gentrification is definitely coming–we saw one rebuild in the neighborhood, and many homes for sale. With quick access to I70 and downtown, Chaffee Park is about to be known.
Zuni Park sits in the middle of the neighborhood, but Chaffee Park, named after the same Chaffee of this neighborhood, is south of I70 in Sunnyside. Named after an original city founder and future Colorado Senator whose daughter married Ulysses S Grant’s son, the neighborhood doesn’t reflect the political clout that Jerome Chaffee surely had.
When most of the homes look the same, it’s fun to see how the blank palette inspires homeowners’ pride to stand out. From cows in yards to flying monkeys, each block had something unique to keep us interested. Even the brand new home, with its new urban spin, had a sculpture made out of bike parts in its yard.
As a long, narrow rectangle shape, we managed to squeeze in a 3-mile walk. Be sure to glimpse into the rail yard on the east side. You won’t miss the looming AT&T tower, which is in Adams county, just north of Chaffee Park. Read about the route and its turn-by-turn instructions below.
Start at Zuni park, 5100 Zuni Street. Head south to W 50 Street, turn left (east) to Tejon. Go north (left) to W 51st Ave. Turn right.
Cross Osage and walk to the rear of one of the parking lots to get a glimpse of the rail yard just to the east. Go south on Osage and turn right (west) on W Stoll Place. Continue southwesterly, merging onto W 49th Ave.
Continue to Elm Court. Take a right (north) to W 50th St. Take a left on Clay St. Take a right on 52nd Ave. You’ll be walking the county line between Denver and Adams county. Notice the difference in zoning and development.
At Bryant St, take a right. At 51st St, take a left. At Zuni, take a right, returning back to your starting point.