Auraria Urban Hiking–Where Denver Politics Began

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Many folks know Auraria as the home to three college campuses or as the site of the original Denver. But the one common denominator that pulls together this neighborhood would be the rise and fall of political agendas. For this Denver Neighborhood walk, we took on an urban hike through Auraria and discovered a rich history of the wax and wane of Denver.

Gold!

Auraria Urban Hiking--Where Denver Politics Began Many folks know Auraria as the home to three college campuses or as the site of the original Denver. But t

Founded by two brothers from Auraria, Georgia, who came to Denver and discovered gold on the banks of the Cherry Creek, Auraria sprouted up quickly. It drew the attention of General William Larimer who arrived to town and established the competing town of Denver. Tousling and politicking began. Soon, Auraria gave way to Denver, and Denver became the queen of the Platte River.

With people comes beer, of course. The Tivoli Brewing company established and grew quickly, changing hands many times. After the 1965 flood and employee strike, it closed. Now, it’s the student union building, and brewing has returned to the location.

Historic District!

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When the 1965 flood invaded Auraria and destroyed much of the vibrant Hispanic neighborhood, Denver leaders gathered to decide how to renovate and restore the area, ultimately politicking their way to a Higher Education campus to home UC Denver, Metro State, and Community College of Denver. The creation of the campus displaced the remaining Hispanic population and created the 9th Avenue Historic District.

Amusement Parks!

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Shortly following the campus designation, Elitch Gardens moved in. Then, not to be outdone by the other large event arenas in the area, the City put in the Pepsi Center in 1999 where Celine Dion opened the venue. Thus by the early 2000s, not much remained of the original neighborhoods and the regional politicking continues. But, the original Hispanic neighborhood lives through the student body. If a student can claim lineage to the original families displaced by the campus, they get free tuition.

Neighborhood Boundaries

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A triangle shape of I25, Cherry Creek and West Colfax.

The Route

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Start at the Auraria Library (take public transit to get there, 1100 Lawrence St, Denver, CO 80204.) Head east toward downtown, crossing Speer and catching the ramp down to Cherry Creek. Cross the creek then take a left on the pedestrian path, avoiding the bikes only path on the south side of the creek.

Notice all of the street art along the walls that bank the creek. Funded by the Denver Arts and Venues, these murals change often, so return often. Right before arriving at the confluence of the Platte River and the Cherry Creek, take the ramp up and then across Cherry Creek.

Continue around the bend at the confluence, staying on the east side of the Platte. You’ll pass Centennial Gardens, patterned after Gardens of Versailles, that has paths and patterned flowerbeds showcasing native species. You’ll then pass Elitch Gardens, an amusement park full of roller coasters, which once on the outskirts of town and was then relocated to this location in 1995.

Pass under Bronco bridge, then veer to the left past the small, blue parking building. Cross the railroad tracks and then the light rail tracks, staying on the sidewalk as it bends slightly to the right. You’ll arrive back on the Auraria campus. At 8th Street, take a right.

Walk one block, take a left and then take a right on 9th Street. You’ll see the 9th Street Historic District in front of you. On the right is the St Cajetan’s church. Once the cultural and religious center of the community, it now serves as venue to the universities and community events. Continue down the street, passing Golda Meier’s house. Be sure to read the plaques in front of each home, and you’ll discover stories of the locals, the architecture and more history of the area.

At the end of the sidewalk, make a u-turn and continue up the other side of 9th Street Historic District, and continue to read the plaques along the way. When you reach the mercantile, take a right on Curtis Street and a left on 10th Street, returning back to where you started.
Click here to see the route, map, and turn by turn directions.