Urban Hiking though Denver's Race Barrier in Whittier and Skyland

Urban Hiking through Denver's Race Barrier in Whittier and Skyland

Tucked just east of Five Points is a pair of neighborhoods people often overlook while cruising Martin Luther King Blvd. But that's a shame; Whittier and Skyland have something to say in which all Denverites should listen. Walking these two neighborhoods together is imperative; their history is intertwined in a story of integration. Race Street, particularly, runs through the middle of these two neighborhoods and historically marked Denver's color barrier. Together, these neighborhoods tell the story of remembering. Let's start the story with Whittier.

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Where Is Whittier?

Whittier sits with 23rd Avenue to the south, Martin Luther King Boulevard (32nd) to the north, Downing St. to the west and York St. to the east. Named after John Greenleaf Whittier (1807-1892), an abolitionist poet and a founding member of the American Republican political party, the neighborhood lives and breathes history that melts over from Five Points, jazz music, and Denver's integration story.

The Color Line

While walking the neighborhood, you'll learn many things, including these four interesting treasures. Race St was the historical color line of Denver. In order to recall the history, you can find scant traces of an art project called the Whittier Alley Loop project. from 2015. This project told the story of integration and race through murals, artwork, and stories painted into the street. Although almost completely gone, the Whittier Alley Loop project can still be seen with careful eyes and keen sight.

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The First Female Millionaire and Hair

Along the short loop, you'll learn about treasure number two. Whittier was home to Madam CJ Walker's African-American hair care business. She became the first self-made, female, African-American millionaire, influencing beauty all over the US, the Caribbean, and Mexico. Knocking door to door, she schlepped hair tonic and solutions to an audience who loved her. Although her business didn't stay in Denver, her impact did.

Buffalo Bill's Final Wish

You may know that Buffalo Bill's final wish was to be buried on Lookout Mountain. But did you know he made that wish from right here in Whittier? Treasure number three is an interesting piece of local history as well--the home where Buffalo Bill Cody died! Pony Express rider, war veteran, bison killer and sideshow salesman, the place where he died still remains. Look for his sister's home in the 2900 block of Lafayette. The metal bison in the yard gives him away.

The Local Music Teacher and Political Guru

Morrison Park, named after George C Morrison who is known as the godfather of jazz, centers Whittier as a fourth treasure. Make sure to read the lovely signage and memorial to him, which links him to the historic Five Points jazz scene. He also held political court of many influencers who knew the importance of stopping in to see a community leader.

Jumping to the Skyland

Skyland, more commonly known as North City Park Neighborhood, is bordered by Martin Luther King Boulevard to the north, East 23rd Avenue to the south, Colorado Boulevard to the east and York Street to the west, sitting just east of Whittier and includes the City Park golf course (which currently is closed and is future is uncertain.)

Skyland's neighborhood association, North City Park Civic Association, has been around almost 40 years, and they've posted signs at the neighborhood's entries. Although Skyland doesn't have the more exciting history that Whittier has, it, too has contributed to the area's wax and wane with Five Points and Whittier. While walking in Skyland,, you'll find the typical mix of older homes and 1940s homes, but the 1940s dominate the area. It also includes the historically denoted home of Denver's first black architect (who was blind in one eye!) at 2600 Milwaukee St.

Walking the two neighborhoods together will help you see how the "color line" affected both areas. You'll also see the mix of history, the development of some beautiful pocket parks, and an attempt to keep history alive. This 3.3-mile walk keep you talking about both neighborhoods even after you finish.


The Route:

Start at 3019 N Lafayette St. Walk south past the community garden and through the park. Look for the house on the east side of the street that has a buffalo in its yard. That's the death place of Buffalo Bill.

Take a left on E 30th Ave, right on Franklin, then a left on E 29th Ave. Walk south and diagonally through Denver's second oldest park, Fuller Park. Say hello to the dogs in the dog park and pass along Manuel High School. Continue to the east along E 28th Ave.

At the corner of High St and 28th, enjoy the mural on the library. Then, walk up the alley to the west of High Street, seeing the remnants of the Whittler Alley Loop project. Continue up the alley to E 30th.

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Take a right and enjoy the history of Madame CJ. Continue to the east, crossing High and then heading south in the alley behind High St. Take a left on E 28th Ave.

Take a right on Race St, then a left on 26th Ave. Cross York into Skyland. Take a left on Josephine St.

Take a right on E 27t Ave and a left on Elizabeth, a right on E 28th Ave, then a left on Clayton, making your way through Skyland. Notice the variation in homes with the block from turn of the century to modern.

Pass the local schools, then continue to take a right on E 30th Ave, then a left on Fillmore St. Take a left on E 31st Ave, continuing your amble in Skyland.

Cross York again, then at High, take a right. At MLK, take a left, walking through Morrison park and stopping to read its history. At Lafayette, take a left, returning back to your start.

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

Walking Whittier and Skyland and Supporting Denver By Foot

If you’ve enjoyed this walk, maybe you’ll enjoy some other walks curated by Denver By Foot. Get the 52 Hikes 52 Weeks Denver Calendar, which recommends a hike a week, subscribe to the YouTube Channel to hear about weekly hiking suggestions in Denver, and buy access to the Denver By Foot Challenge. The Challenge is 30 activities in Denver to do by foot where you’ll uncover treasures throughout Denver. It’s a great thing to do with friends and family.

Finally, please support Denver By Foot by purchasing Chris Englert’s books, The Best Urban Hikes: Denver and Discovering Denver Parks. Thank you so much!


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Three Denver Neighborhoods to Walk with Great Mid-Century Architecture

Three Denver Neighborhoods to Walk with Great Mid-Century Architecture

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*note: You can now download an interactive walking guide of this walk at https://www.gpsmycity.com/gps-tour-guides/denver-568.html

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

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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!






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.

Washington Virginia Vale Neighborhood Denver Walk Hike

Washington Virginia Vale Urban Hiking Denver

It's a long name for a neighborhood. Although the area contains Denver's oldest home, the current configuration of this neighborhood occurred in the 1950s after over 20 annexations. Let's imagine the name came from a compromise during the annexations where different smaller communities from Washington Park, Virginia Village and possibly the now non-existent Vale merged together. It's a good guess. Nonetheless, this Denver 'hood claims Four Mile Historic Park.

The Last Stop

Washington Virginia Vale shares much of the same history as Virginia Village. First was the Brook Ranch which claimed to be four miles from downtown and the last stage stop on the Cherokee trail. Through a long series of Denver annexations, the Ranch shrank to just around 12 acres, which is now the historic park. Running on the west side of Washington Virginia Vale is Cherry Creek. Leetsdale splits the middle; Alameda Avenue is to the north and  South Quebec Street is the eastern boundary.

A Few Consulates, Too!

The Mexican, Peruvian and Guatemalan Consulates sit here in this neighborhood, although the consulates don't seem to be influencing the restaurants or the local neighborhood makeup. Most of this neighborhood's homes on the southwestern side of Leetsdale are similarly designed brick cottages. On the north side of Leetsdale are larger custom homes.

Parks and Creeks!

The western edge has several super parks, including the large Garland Park with a fun lake supporting large geese populations. The Cherry Creek and its trail make the western boundary, offering up a walk or ride to either downtown or Cherry Creek Reservoir. To the southeast, you'll find Jacobs Park. Thus, although the neighborhood does feel like Leetsdale is the belt around its middle, there's good walking to be had. Enjoy this 2.5 mile loop.

The Route:

Start at 1095 S Krameria St. Walk north to E Exposition Ave. Take a left on Holly, crossing Leetsdale.

Go up the hill, then take a left on E Dakota Ave. Take a left on S Forest St. Cross Leetsdale again. At E Exposition, take a right.

On your left will be the Four Mile Historic Park. If the visitor's center is open, be sure to stop in and enjoy Denver's early history. When you're finished, exit the center and go behind it to the Cherry Creek trail. Head southeasterly on the trail.

Cross Holly St into Garland Park. Head to the east toward the ball fields and around the northeast side of the lake back to where you started.

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

See you on the trail



Montclair Neighborhood Denver Walk Hike

Montclair Urban Hiking Denver

Drop in a mansion or two. Montclair, sitting silently below Colfax between Holly and Quebec and north of 6th, hides off by itself. But it has a lot to say.

The Red Baron

Let's start with its start. Named after its founder's home town of Montclair, NJ, its other more famous resident, Baron von Richtofen, put it on the map. This baron, not the other less famous scoundrel who founded Park Hill, was the original Red Baron. He came into Denver on his flying aces and sadly died before his vision of Montclair becoming a world-class health spa destination could flourish. Appendicitis got him.

Double the Size

Before he died, he convinced 88 others to build homes in Montclair that doubled the size of typical Denver homes. With 3-story mansions of brick and stone gracing what is now Montclair's historic district, he topped them all with his mansion. 15,000 square feet of opulence sits at Montclair's high point. Surviving renovation after renovation, the current owners, the Jepersons, host Halloween parties that highlight the beautiful architecture of Montclair's famous mansion.

Single Soldiers!

The rest of the neighborhood has its treats, too. From other majestic homes to WWII housing built for single soldiers starting out fresh, you can find various parks strewn throughout the 'hood. When Denver tried to annex Montclair, it resisted. So strongly did it resist that the Supreme Court had to rule, eventually, in Denver's favor. Rumor has it that Mayor Speer felt badly about the City's strong-arm tactics and threw the newly-annexed town some favor by creating a couple of extra parks just for them.

With Colfax to its north, you can always find something fun in Montclair. When walking through this neighborhood, be sure to throw in a couple of blocks on Colfax. From its northern border to its tony southern edge, enjoy a nice 3.5-mile walk through Montclair.

The Route:

Start at 7298 Richthofen Place.  Take a right on Pontiac. Enjoy the east side of the Richthofen Mansion. Take a left on 12th and enjoy the front.

At Oneida, check out the restored home that is now Montclair Civic Center. It was once a tuberculosis home, and can now be rented from Denver Park and Rec for events. Head north on Oneida to Colfax.

Turn left on Colfax. At Monaco Parkway, cross then head south on 14th and take a right.

Take a left on Locust, a right on 13th, a left on Leyden, right on 12th, then a left on Jasmine.

Take a left on 9th and then a right on Kearny. Take a left on 8th and a right on Krameria. Take a left on Leyden then a right on 6th Ave Parkway.

Go west on 6th, enjoying the large homes along the Parkway. Cross Monaco, take a left on Monaco and then a right on 7th Ave.

Take a left on Niagara St, a right on E Severn Place. Take a left on Oneida, enjoying Montclair's historic district. Continue past Kittridge Park, take a right on 9th.

Take a left on Olive and then a right on 10th. Take a left on Pontiac and then a right on Richthofen, returning you back to your start.

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