A Cherry Creek in the Middle of Business
Who knew “Cherry Creek” is more than just a mall? An entire neighborhood sits north of the chi-chi mall, and it’s filled with some fabulous history of famous and not-so-famous tidbits. Enjoy this urban hiking adventure through Cherry Creek neighborhood.
Not Just a Bunch of High-End Shops
You’ll start the walk at Pulaski Park next to the Gates Tennis Center. Pulaski Park, named after a Polish war commander and Revolutionary War hero, is often filled with children and their caretakers enjoying the two playgrounds. Gates Tennis Center loves players who enjoy its public tennis courts year round. The Cherry Creek neighborhood, which the City says is bounded by the Cherry Creek on the south, East Sixth Avenue to the north, University Boulevard and Colorado Boulevard on the west and east, respectively, includes both the mall (and its boutiques and good restaurants) and the accompanying residences. The Cherry Creek Trail runs along its southwestern edge for over twenty miles.
From Dump to High Dollar
Unbeknownst to most Cherry Creek residents, the neighborhood originally was settled as one of the first black colonies in Denver called Harman. Next to it was the city dump which became the mall in the 1950s. Eventually with Cherry Creek Dam controlling the creek and the “disappearance” of the dump, higher dollar homes moved in. Yet, some of the older homes still remain.
The mall, the vision of Temple Buell, was Colorado’s first and replaced the dump. It started as a small place to attract folks to the suburbs, and it has now become one of Denver’s richest stops. Buell, a famed Colorado architect originally from Chicago, influenced or built over 100 buildings in Colorado. The Buell Theater at the Denver Center for Performing Arts is named after him.
Bromwell Elementary, Twice Burned, Yet Still Survives
Along 3rd Avenue sits a school that burned down twice in the community of Harman. Yet Bromwell Elementary refuses to succomb, and now stands proudly as a much sought-after school in the Denver Public School system (not Cherry Creek School District as many assume!) The school is next to the city park named James L Manley Park. Mr Manley was the beloved principal of the school who lead the efforts to rebuild and keep the school open after fires tried to close it.
A Town Hall Turned Residence
Harman, founded in 1871, still sneaks into the Cherry Creek story, but only subtly. At one time the home in the architecture of a Denver Square at the corner of 4th and St Paul was the Harman Town Hall, housing the police, a jail, a court, the Mayor’s office, and the fire department. The Denver Evening Times of February 3, 1887, reported that “Harman incorporated because irrigation for crops and trees was needed for protection against tramps, bums, bummers, and the liquor traffic.” Now, Harman is gone and the Town Hall is a private residence with a small plaque outside denoting the historical significance. The building itself has been restored and expanded to include a giant underground garage and gorgeous outdoor living space.
From Tiny to Giant
A few of the first generation homes still remain, but probably not for long. You’ll pass a small brick home that just sold for $980,000 in 2018 to be scraped and turned into someone’s dream home. Yet along some of the streets closer to the mall sit many duplexes and multi-family homes. Not all of Cherry Creek North is full of giant homes.
Trailing Along Cherry Creek
The Cherry Creek Trail, which makes the neighborhood’s southern boundary, stretches from the Platte River to just south of Franktown, running past the Cherry Creek Reservoir. The Trail welcomes bikers and walkers alike; be sure to yield to pedestrians if you’re on a bike, and pedestrians may enjoy using the dirt trail next to the concrete trail. The Cherry Creek Trail can get quite busy, especially doing rush hour.
The next time you go shopping at Cherry Creek, leave the mall and park in the parking lot as described below. Go for a walk, enjoy this interesting neighborhood, then grab a bite at any of the fabulous restaurants, such as the Cherry Cricket, an original. Enjoy an urban hike through Cherry Creek!
The route (click for interactive map):
Start at Pulaski Park, whose closest address is 246 S Madison. Walk southwest across the park, crossing Cherry Creek N to get on the Cherry Creek trail.
Walk northwest along the trail, passing the City of Karmiel Park and Karmeil Children’s Garden. Stay to the left at the trail forks, crossing Cherry Creek. Continue northerly, and cross Cherry Creek again.
Turn right on University Blvd and cross E 1st Ave. At 2nd Ave, veer to the right. Take a left on Clayton. Cross 3rd and walk up to the school to see the old Bromwell sign.
Continue to the east on 3rd, turning left on Detroit St. Take a right on 4th. Walk to St Paul.
At the intersection of 4th and St Paul, enjoy the old Harman Town Hall.
Continue along 4th to Jackson where you’ll take a right. Continue down Jackson where one of the old homes sold for almost $1million just to be scraped.
At 3rd Ave, take a right, then take a left on Garfield. Walk through all the duplexes and multi-family housing. This neighborhood is where, I think, the original black colony was.
Take a right on Cedar, cross S Madison, and return to the park where you started.
Trailing Along thru Cherry Creek and Supporting DenverByFoot
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, or even along during our lock down.
What did you like about this walk? Post it on Facebook and tag your posts with #denverbyfoot so I can find them.
See you on the trail!