Three Denver Neighborhoods to Walk with Great Mid-Century Architecture

Three Denver Neighborhoods to Walk with Great Mid-Century Architecture

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Mid-century residential architecture, with its angular roof lines, spontaneous circles, and slanted fences, captured the imagination of several neighborhood developers in Denver. They couldn't put homes up fast enough as the post-WWII housing crunch in Denver demanded dense suburbs for relocating soldiers-turned-families.

Fortunately, many of these neighborhoods remain intact, and they provide great eye candy for super walks. Here, I list three neighborhoods stuffed with mid-century architecture and fantastic ~3-mile loops to walk within them. Take your own walking tour of mid-century homes. (Click on the neighborhood title to get a complete description of walk with map!)

Virginia Village

There are two mid-century neighborhoods in Virginia Village; they were built at a time when watermelon and asparagus fields gave way to affordable homes of the future. Before the growth spurt, the area was known as Sullivan. This area, a toll-call away from Denver, grew quickly, and soon the Denver Gardens and Cherry Creek Gardens subdivisions sported their futuristic "atomic" models.

The Harvey Parks

harvey park south urban hiking eatwalklearn

Actually two neighborhoods which split at Yale, Harvey Park and Harvey Park South have local reputations for having the best collection of mid-century homes. Think George Jetson meets California. Influenced or actually designed by architect Cliff May, you can find gorgeous original, mostly single-story homes graced by carports and jutting angles. But what many people don't know is that the Harvey Parks have several lakes, an historic college campus, and homes ranging from the 40s to now.

University Hills/Wellshire

Actually, these are two neighborhoods abutting each other near University of Denver, but don’t confuse them with the University neighborhood. Sitting next to each other, University Hills and Wellshire contain a variety of homes from many decades, but the mid-century homes might be the most charming. A famous resident once lived near here, do you know who she was?

Did you have a good time on these walks? Which was your favorite? Post your pics and tag them with @denverbyfoot so I can see them!

Thanks

~Chris

 

 

 


University Neighborhood Denver Walk Hike

University Urban Hiking Denver

After a year of walking all 78 of Denver's neighborhoods, we finally came to the last one, University. Granted, it wasn't quite alphabetical in the list, but it was fun to end at where Chipotle started! In only two miles, we covered most of the neighborhood, including its star attraction, University of Denver.

Old Buildings and a Chapel

The University neighborhood sits between Downing and University, I25 and Dartmouth. Where it used to be way out of town and away from the rough and tumble influence of Denver, it's now a "college town" where most of the residents are somehow engaged with the University.

The University of Denver, still legally called Colorado Seminary, invites about 11000 students a year, both undergraduate and graduate, to study. Originally started in downtown Denver in 1864 and named after then territory governor John Evans, the school relocated to this area to soon afterward. Many of the buildings on campus date from the late 1890s. Of interest is the small, centrally located Evans Chapel. This 1870s-vintage, originally located in downtown Denver, was moved to the DU campus in the early 1960s.

Fast and Fresh

Around the corner from the campus on Evans Blvd sits the original Chipotle. Started by Steve Ellis, who had graduated from the Culinary Institute of America, he originally thought he'd open a fine dining restaurant. But burritos prevailed, McDonalds invested (then divested), and the chain grew to become one of America's favorite fast fresh burrito makers. Be sure to stop in and marvel at its size (small!).

Toss in a Turtle or Two

After checking out Denver's famous fast fresh franchise, continue on the block to Deiter's, the local's favorite chocolate store. Be sure to try the dark chocolate turtle with pecans, a creamy deliciousness you won't want to pass.

Thus, the infamous Denver Neighborhoods project came to an end. Do drop me a line and let me know what your favorite post or walk was and let me know which neighborhood you're walking next. What's next for me? Stay tuned.

Buy my ebook that has all the 78 neighborhoods and their interactive maps, Walking Denver's 78 Neighborhoods.

The Route:

Start at 2199 E Harvard Ave. Look to your south across the small park and you'll see the Harvard Gulch Trail. Jump on trail and walk west. At S Gilpin St, exit the trail to the north.

Follow Gilpin to to E Evans Ave, take a right. Enjoy the original Chipotle's on the corner of Gilpin and Evans. At Evans, take a right, noticing the nice murals on the building walls.

Continue on Evans, past Deiter's chocolate shop, taking a right after the Dricoll Center South, meandering up through the campus toward its center. If the chapel is open, enter and have a look inside. Exit the chapel to the west, continuing your meander through campus.

Reach S High St. Take a right. Cross over the park onto Harvard Gulch, taking it to the left (east) until you return back to your start.

~See you on the trail

Chris
Click here to see the route, map, and turn by turn directions.


Windsor Neighborhood Denver Walk Hike

Windsor Urban Hiking Denver

Most people think of the neighborhood of Windsor being just Windsor Gardens. But it also includes a small subdivision tucked into the SW corner of Alameda and Havana, Windsor Gardens, Fairmount Cemetery, Windsor Lake, Windsor, and a couple of miles of the High Line Canal. It's a fun neighborhood to explore.

Mile of Trails

Windsor Gardens is Denver's largest senior living complex. With a golf course, trails, its own restaurant and even a fitness center, its active living residents take great care in enjoying the amenities and even decorating for the holidays. Often you'll find neighbors walking on the High Line or planting colorful gardens.

Active Living!

The subdivisions surrounding Windsor Gardens range from 1970s homes to town homes and condos that welcome all ages. These neighborhoods can access the High Line Canal and make their way all the way to Green Valley Ranch or Waterton Canyon. If they're not that adventurous, they can meander over to Fairmount Cemetery for a lovely walk.

Amazing Buildings

Fairmount Cemetery, Denver's second oldest grave yard, has buried Denver's rich and famous. It's also the last resting place for the infamous, too. You'll find a giant arboretum of champion trees, an historic rose garden of over 200 varietals, and historic mausoleums, churches and synagogues on the property.

The secret to walking among these neighborhoods is to connect them along the High Line as you cannot walk between them while within each neighborhood. In class subdivision style, they are all walled with little to no access from neighborhood to neighborhood. Thus, you'll need to walk along Alameda or the High Line to get between them.

Buy my ebook that has all the 78 neighborhoods and their interactive maps, Walking Denver's 78 Neighborhoods.

The Route:

Start at 9801 E Ohio Ave. Walk west to S Dayton St, then cross it to the west. Jump on the High Line Canal and walk west behind Windsor Gardens. Cross S Valentia.

You'll come to a break that allows you into Fairmount Cemetery. On the left will be the pump house that pumps water from the High Line Canal into Windsor Lake to reserve it for watering the cemetery. On your right will be gravestones and a large white building.

The white building is the Fairmount Mausoleum. You may enter it during the day. There are restrooms in the basement. Be sure to tour it and enjoy the fabulous stained glass art pieces at the hallways' ends.

After leaving the Mausoleum, walk along the road toward the small traffic circle. You'll see small square markers at the end of the row with numbers on them. Find the 25. Take a right between 25 and 24, and you'll be walking "Millionaire's Row" within the cemetery. Along this row are Denver's most famous residents, including Mayor Speer and his family.

Meander along the rows and marvel at the historic tombstones, graves, and artwork. Notice the plethora of giant trees, part of Fairmount's arboretum. Be sure to come back during one of their tours to gather more information about the cemetery's history, its trees, and its roses. Walk easterly in the cemetery.

You'll come across the military and veteran's section. There's even a women's auxiliary section and an area for the Spanish-American war soldiers. After finding the military section, make your way back toward the mausoleum. Along its northern side is a special section for babies and children.

Exit the cemetery in the rear along the High Line where you entered. Walk east back across S Valentia, but this time, head north on Valentia.

At Fairmount Dr, head east and walk along the town home subdivision. Take a right on Alameda, then take a right on Clinton.

You'll enter Windsor Gardens. Continue along Clinton, enjoying the residents' enthusiasm to decorate for any holiday. At S Alton Way, take a left. At Dayton, take a right. Turn left on Ohio, returning back to your start.

~See you on the trail, Chris
Click here to see the route, map, and turn by turn directions.


Wash Park and West Wash Park Neighborhood Denver Walk Hike

Wash Park and West Wash Park Urban Hiking Denver

If you were to say, "Where's Washington Park?" to someone in Denver, you'd get a few screwy looks. Although officially named after our first president, locals have abbreviated these two neighborhoods to Wash and West Wash Park. In Wash Park neighborhood is the park, Wash Park, not to be confused with the neighborhood's name of Wash Park.

Two 'Hoods Sharing a Park, Kinda

Spanning from E Alameda to the north, I25 to the south, S Broadway to the west and S University to the east, these two neighborhoods meet in the middle at S Downing St. If Wash Park is the residential and recreational side of the area, then West Wash is the shopping and entertainment section. But both neighborhoods have cottages and mansions, and both claim Wash Park, the park, as their local getaway.

Wash Park, the park, invites walkers, runners, skaters and bikers in a rigid and controlled system of lanes and paths. Step in the wrong path at the wrong speed, and the locals will let you know your error. The park has acres and acres of open space for volleyball, sunbathing, frisbee and outdoor fun. Formal gardens welcome you in the spring and summer, along with paddle boarding and kayaking on the lakes. In the wintertime, if it ever gets cold enough again, you can throw on your ice skates or attach your cross country skies for miles of escape.

To the South!

South High School commands the southern end of the area. Once known for its "southern charm," it's now known as the one of the country's most beautiful high schools. With ornate frescoes and facades and a giant football field, this school is here to stay and welcomes all who enter.

The Same, But Different

Although both neighborhoods have many similarities, they do maintain separate homeowners associations. West Wash has been instrumental, over time, in closing roads and protecting the safety and sanctity of its neighborhoods. Wash Park's association (called East Wash Park Neighborhood Association), on the other hand, has hearkened back to its Myrtle Hill roots. Focusing on a progress and preservation theme, the association focuses on making sure the renovations and growth in and around the neighborhood and its park are appropriate.

A special thanks to Melissa Turner for taking us on this walk.

Buy my ebook that has all the 78 neighborhoods and their interactive maps, Walking Denver's 78 Neighborhoods.

The Route:

Start at 1059 S Gilpin. Walk south to E Mississippi and then take a right at S Race Street. Pass what was once Myrtle School and then became Washington Park School. It's now condominiums and inside, they've maintained some of the original school character. Pass the United Methodist Church, built in 1919, and take a right on E Arizona.

At the corner of Arizona and Franklin, notice the charming roof line and style of homes at the NE corner.

Walk south through the park, exiting the park, crossing E Louisiana and walk east toward the entrance to South High School. Admire the artwork on the entry and the facade.

Walk back to Louisiana, crossing at the light at S Franklin back into the park. Walk around to the west side of the Grasmere Lake. Cross S Downing St into West Wash Park and head north. Admire the wonderful home built by a ship's architect on the west side of the street between Arizona and Tennessee.

At Tennessee, take a left. Take a right at S Ogden St. Take a right at E Ohio, then a left onto Franklin again. Cross the street back into the park, then head north on the inner loop toward Smith Lake.

Pass the traditional gardens, which are in full bloom in the spring and summer. Head toward the old Whitehead Farm. This farmhouse and its field are now a maintenance garage for Denver Park and Rec and outdoor facilities for park users.

Walk toward the SE corner of the lake and notice the small home on the east side of the street and the white statue. The house, originally owned by Eugene Field, was moved here from Colfax. The statue, created by Sculptor Mabel Landrum Torrey, is a marble interpretation of Field's best known poem, "Wynken, Blynken, and Nod," and is north of the house.

Walk south through the park, taking a left on E Kentucky. Take a right on S Williams St, take a right on E Tennessee, and then a left on Gilpin, returning back to your start.

See you on the trail

~Chris

Click here to see the route, map, and turn by turn directions.


West Colfax Villa Park Neighborhood Denver Walk Hike

West Colfax Villa Park Urban Hiking Denver

If you'd like to go for a fun and interesting walk on the west side, combine the neighborhoods of West Colfax and Villa Park. They share the east/west boundaries of Sheridan and Federal. West Colfax goes north to 17th, Villa Park goes south to 6th, and the Lakewood/Dry Gulch splits the neighborhoods into two.

A Train Runs through It

The Lakewood/Dry Gulch certainly adds a spectacular punch to the two neighborhoods. This gulch that drains both neighborhoods to the Platte, also has a wonderful trail that goes west along Dry Gulch to Sheridan, or southwesterly along Lakewood Gulch to Green Mountain Park. It also houses the light rail to downtown. Thus, if you live in either neighborhood, you can ride, walk, or transit downtown with ease.

Wicked, yet Full of Dreams

West Colfax, originally the small Colfax neighborhood off the Golden Road, named the longest, wicked, street in the US. The neighborhood eventually annexed to Denver. Villa Park, on the other hand, had grand plans to be a 1000 acre resort with lakes and features. But these dreams suffered too, and eventually the land sold to PT Barnum. The neighborhood split in two, with Villa Park to the north and Barnum to the south. Be sure to read about the fun and crazy Barnum and its history here.

Se Habla Español?

Photo credit Gail Ferber

Both neighborhoods are rich in parks, one of the most relevant being the Paco Sanchez park. Paco made his mark in Denver by starting the first Spanish-speaking radio station and becoming an activist for the Hispanic community. His park sits on the hill overlooking the gulch and downtown.

And an Historic District!

The West Colfax homes have history. Lang, who designed over 600 homes in Denver, took on the fanciful homes along Stuart, and he even influenced the more subdivision-style homes throughout the neighborhood.

Aztecs?

A little surprise popped up in Villa Park, an unnamed park! It had a wonderful little playground, an Aztec cat play piece and an Aztec calendar. It's nice to see the park hearken to the ancestral land of Aztlán, which is referenced in Corky Gonzalez' poem, Yo soy Joaquín. This famous poem, say some, marks the beginning of the Chicano movement and its identity.

Enjoy this wonderful 3.3-mile walk through lots of fun discoveries in both West Colfax and Villa Park.

Buy my ebook that has all the 78 neighborhoods and their interactive maps, Walking Denver's 78 Neighborhoods.

The Route:

Start at 1498 Irving St and park at the Rodolfo "Corky" Gonzales Library. Walk west on Colfax, turning right on Lowell Blvd. Walk up to Lake International School, which was the first and most ornate Junior High School for the kids around Sloan Lake.

Go west on W 18th Ave, take a left on Meade St, take a right on 17th, then a left on Colfax. Cross Colfax, continuing west.

Take a left on Perry St. Take a right on W 14th St. At the corner of Stuart 14th, enjoy the two homes built by Lang. The one on the SW corner is the Bliss House, which was built for Dr. and Mrs. Jerry and Lillian Bliss. Dr. Bliss, a Civil War veteran, lived here until his death in 1945, at the age of 99, the south's last Civil War veteran.

At Tennyson St, take a left and cross the Lakewood/Dry Gulch into Villa Park. Exit the Gulch onto Stuart St, walking through the neighborhood. You'll reach Martinez Park. Walk through the park and pick up the Lakewood Gulch trail, walking northeasterly.

You'll pass the Aztec-influenced park, continuing to walk northeasterly, catching up with the Dry Gulch trail. Continue along the trail to Knox Court.

Exit the trail, going north on Knox Court, crossing the train tracks and entering Paco Sanchez Park. Enjoy the Paco sign.

Continue northeasterly through the park to W Avondale Drive. Walk north and Avondale turns into Irving. Continue north until you return back to the library where you started.

Wasn't this a fun walk?

See you on the trail

~Chris
Click here to see the route, map, and turn by turn directions.