The Haves and the Have-Nots
I’m not here to describe a have and a have-not, as those that have-not might think they have, and those that have might think they have-not. But no matter what your perspective, East Colfax, nee East Montclair, is a land of the two with the wickedest street in America running through it. Here’s my write-up of our urban hiking adventure through East Colfax.
It’s Not East Montclair, Sorry
First, let’s start by saying there’s no such neighborhood as East Montclair. But don’t tell the residents that! The city of Denver doesn’t recognize the neighborhood as such, calling it East Colfax with the boundaries of Quebec to Yosemite, 11th Ave to Montview with a little jut up to E 23rd Ave at Quebec. The official Montclair neighborhood abuts it to the west.
Running through the middle of the neighborhood lies what Playboy called the wickedest street in North America, Colfax. Welcoming travelers for years before I70 existed, this end of Colfax homes refugees in apartments, visitors in western and aviation-themed motels, and thirsty locals in decorated bars. Walking these blocks makes the decades mix right in front of your eyes. You’ll have no idea what year you’re in.
A Sidewalk Here, a Sidewalk There
The neighborhood theme of haves and have-nots plays itself out in the sidewalks first. Some streets have them, some don’t. Some sidewalks stop mid-block, while others take you safely for several streets. South of Colfax, you won’t find many sidewalks running east-west, and north of Colfax the sidewalks mostly transit you narrowly north and south.
Dreams to Be Found
Closer to the refugee homes near New Freedom Park, you’ll find urban gardens filled with clover and foreign-looking vegetation. The closer you get to the old Stapleton airport, the more you’ll find remnants of old tuberculosis recovery homes.
Old Dreams, New Dreams, Broken Dreams
Yet no matter the block you walk in the East Colfax neighborhood, it’s a travel through old dreams, new dreams, and broken dreams.
See below for the route and turn-by-turn directions.
Start at Verbena Park near 1128 Verbena St. Walk north to E 12th Ave, turn left (west). At Rosemary St, turn right (north) to E 13th Ave, turn left.
At Quince St, turn right. Stop in Quince Essential Coffee for a cuppa, then turn left on Colfax. Cross Colfax at Quebec St, going north (right) up to E 16th Ave, where you’ll turn right.
At Quince, take a left and continue north to E Montview Blvd. Walk to the right along Montview, noticing the difference between the Stapleton neighborhood on the north side of the street and East Colfax neighborhood on the south.
Turn right (south) on Ulster St. At 1760 Ulster Street, notice the Greeters of America home. Now two residences, it was once the headquarters of the fraternal organization for hotel greeters. Continue south to E 16th Ave and take a left (west.) At Tamarac, take a left (south).
Stop in the Hangar Bar. Over 75 years old and possibly Colfax’s oldest bar, this tried-and-true aviation bar played host to the pilots and flight attendants flying into the old Stapleton airport. Continue east along Colfax and take a right on Xenia St.
You’ll walk through a block full of apartments housing many refugees. Enjoy the urban gardens and notice the work being done at New Freedom Park to daylight Westerly Creek.
Turn right on E 12th Ave, continuing to Verbena. Turn right and turn back to where you started.