Rooted in Kindness, City Park West
This weekly Denver neighborhood walk takes you through what I think might be the most kind neighborhood in Denver, City Park West. From open doors to inviting churches, the invite to enjoy this neighborhood came from several open doors and open hearts. Enjoy this write-up of a 2-mile City Park West urban hiking adventure.
The SAME, But Very Different
You’ll start your weekly walk at the SAME Cafe at 2023 E Colfax Ave. This non-profit invites all to eat at any amount they can afford. You can walk in and enjoy their constantly changing menu, sit down at the community table (be sure to socially distance, if necessary), and pay with cash in the cash box or your credit card. You pay only what you can afford, and you’re welcome to pay it forward. The SAME Cafe sets the tone for your walk within the borders of E 23 Ave, York, E Colfax and N Downing St.
Clean Air, Big Homes
City Park West once claimed wealthy Denverites who wanted to escape the smokey bottom lands of the burgeoning town of Denver. With mansions and showplaces dominating the neighborhood, each corner houses one beautiful home after another. Many are now gone, but several remain, having survived the 1970’s apartmentalization era.
I stopped at the Castle Marne Bed and Breakfast, admiring its 22-inches thick Rhyolite walls and gorgeous peacock stained glass. A shy knock on the front door got me an invite into a personal tour of the foyer and front parlor by the owner himself, Jim Peiker. This kind soul, who is very proud of his renovation of this Historic Register home, treated me to quaint stories about how he got the only bust of William Lane, the architect, and his adventure in renovating a home that at one time had 3 feet of water in the basement.
Now a thriving Bed and Breakfast and sweet place for a spot of tea, this gem still commands the corner of Race and 16th. By the way, Castle Marne is up for sale. Grab it for a cool $1.7 million.
If you need a hospital, City Park West offers its fair share, including St Joseph’s, National Jewish Health, Presbyterian, and Children’s. As you walk up through the hospital center, you’ll stumble upon what once was the largest, private, nursing school and residence of the St Joe nuns.
On another whim, I opened the front door, got a sneak at the internal elevator, and a brief history of the Mullen building from the receptionist. I loved the elevator. Is it a quick ride to heaven?
You’ll meander your way over to the next mansion on the list, the Smith Mansion on the corner of 18th and Vine, overlooking City Park. Currently under renovation and also next to a large housing complex under construction, you’ll quickly move off of Vine and back onto Race. There, you’ll stumble across a wonderful Jewish Temple. Little did I know that my luck would continue on impromptu invites, and I got an invite in for a tour.
A Temple for Everyone
I stopped to gawk at the facade of the Temple Beth Hamedrosh Hagodol when a resident stopped to tell me that the cornerstone of the church marks the geographic center of Denver. This prompted me to look in the door windows, which caused the face looking at me to invite me in.
What a grand tour I received! This community gathering spots feeds over 125 folks 3 times a day during the week, and on weekends, it hosts several multi-denominational churches and faiths in English, Hebrew and Arabic. A very inviting place indeed, with wonderful art deco interiors, I felt so fortunate to get a personal tour.
Little Pink Houses
With your walk almost complete, you’ll continue back toward the SAME Cafe. But as with all of these walks, and especially this one, there is always a surprise around every corner. In this case, you’ll discover a little pink house with a yard full of whimsy. Metal cut-outs of western themes add to the character of the owner–an older lady who was born and continues to live in her home.
From generous cafes to generous residents, this urban hike through City Park West will fill your souls with kindness.
To learn about the history of Denver parks, buildings and artwork, buy my book Discovering Denver Parks.
The route (click for interactive route):
Start at SAME Cafe at 2023 E Colfax. There is parking along Vine and Race or 2-hr meters on Colfax. Go west and take a right on Race St. Notice the Literary Lighthouse and its two watch cats on the west side of the street. Continue north to Castle Marne, on the corner of E 16th St and Race.
Turn left or west on 16th. Take a right on Williams Street and then a left on E 17th Ave. Enjoy one of Denver’s hottest new places for bars and restaurants. Notice the many references in signage to the area being called, “Uptown.”
Continue to Franklin St. Take a right and walk through the hospital complex, noticing the historic nursing school on the left (west) and its brick, waterfall architecture. Take a right on E 21st Ave and then a left on Gilpin. You’ll be able to see the variety of homes and home ages in this area.
Take a right on E 22nd Ave and then a right on High Street. Continue to the left along E 20th Ave to York, and then head to the right or south. Find the Smith Mansion at the corner of 18th, and then turn right on E 18th Ave.
Go south on Gaylord to the Temple. Admire the artwork in both the street and the cornerstone. Head south, being sure to eye the cute pink house with western metal work. Continue south to Colfax. Take a right, and you’ll return to the SAME Cafe.
Denver’s Kindest Neighborhood 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!
Wasn’t this a fun walk?
See you on the trail