Monday’s New York Times has a feature article on Colfax Avenue, accompanied by a big photo of Pete’s Kitchen. It dubs Colfax our “most famous and notorious drag” and our equivalent of Haight-Ashbury and Greenwich Village. Colfax is gentrifying, says the Times. But, there’s hope it will also maintain ‘its legendary grit.”
Today it is among the city’s most colorful and distinctly urban neighborhoods, a warren of apartment buildings where young, upwardly mobile transplants, low-income senior citizens and street-hardened addicts co-exist. In the shadows of the Colorado Statehouse, the Roslyn Grill opens in the morning to serve beer to drunks and to delivery men fresh off the graveyard shift. At night, half-dazed homeless people stagger among college students going to see bands at Colfax Avenue venues. Drug dealers peddle heroin and crack as the young professionals who have flocked to the remodeled Victorian-era buildings nearby walk their dogs.
What you can expect: Sleeker bars, more modern design, apartments on top of one story businesses — places where residents and businesses co-mingle. Several of the new bars are look-throughs where you can watch the patrons inside from the street. Example: “the Cheeky Monk Belgian Beer Cafe.” Local author Phil Goodstein gives Capitol Hill walking tours. I think he has the right attitude towards all this fancification of Colfax:
With a wry smile, he pointed out some of the Colfax’s more memorable landmarks, including an old optometrist’s office, now abandoned, where customers could buy eyeglasses to better see the pornographic magazines that were also on sale. At the corner of Colfax Avenue and Pennsylvania Street, Mr. Goodstein stopped and surveyed the street. A young, smartly dressed couple walked home from work. A group of teenagers, draped in goth clothes, wandered toward the nearby Fillmore Auditorium. A haggard looking old man sat on a stoop, one hand gripping an oversized walkie-talkie, his eyes shut, mouth agape. ….”Just let Colfax be Colfax,” Mr. Goodstein said.
I’ve lived around Colfax, Capitol Hill, Cheesman and Uptown for 32 of the 36 years I’ve been in Denver — the other four were spent on the 7th Avenue Parkway and in Cherry Creek. (I don’t count the lonely 9 months I spent in the eerily quiet Cherry Hills Village, my one residential mistake.) I’ll take Colfax anytime and in retrospect, these areas were a great place to raise my son. While I don’t mind the national news touting Colfax, I just hope it doesn’t mean that big changes are in store for the area. I want to continue to treasure the Argonaut, the Fillmore and the King Soopers on 9th and Corona for many years to come. You always know you’re home when you stop in there, particularly with their unique clientele. It’s entertainment in itself. What’s your favorite part of Colfax?