Snuggle Up to Cole
Snuggled into a little corner of Denver sits the community-minded neighborhood of Cole. With a mostly rectangular boundary stretching to the north from Martin Luther King Blvd. (32nd Ave.) to 40th Ave and east from Downing St to York St, Cole neighborhood and its Junior High are named after Carlos M. Cole, a superintendent of Denver’s Public Schools who was instrumental in establishing junior high schools in Denver.
Cole is doing its best to squeeze its neighborhood into a quickly changing, commercial landscape. Here’s a great walk to enjoy on this 2.2-mile, Cole urban hiking adventure.
The Smell of Money
The first thing you’ll notice about Cole is that its northwestern and northern boundaries smell opportunity. Where old, falling down commercial spaces are going for $800,000, and urban redevelopment is shooting up like a phoenix with the Denver Rock Drill and Industry projects flaring.
The Denver Rock Drill project will be 550,000 square feet of brand-new ground-up development — comprised of 150,000 square feet of office space; 65,000 square feet of retail; 180 planned residential units; and a 175-key hotel by Sage Hospitality — the project will also include 150,000 square feet of adaptive reuse of historic buildings. Denver Drill produced “Waugh” drills around the world for large-scale buildings.
Throughout Cole, you’ll find the residents are co-habitating, coming up with unique ways to find space to live in. Newly built homes squeeze in tiny houses on top of garages, and old libraries become condos.
Community Love through Schools and Architecture
But no matter what new construction you see, a sense of community is thriving. Every yard offers a unique view into the homeowners where plastic chickens line up in a row, tiny churches show off Jesus, and urban gardens invite new planters.
Cole’s two historic schools bookend the neighborhood, combining public schools with charter schools in co-mingled spaces and beautiful buildings. Wyatt Academy opened in 1887 as Hyde Park School. The building was designed by Robert Roeschlaub, the state’s first registered architect and the Denver Public School District’s architect of choice during the 1880s and 1890s.
The Urban Land Conservancy has a chance to manage Cole’s growth. Owning one of the largest remaining historic structures in the neighborhood, the old Tramway building, the Conservancy rents space to non-profits. It recently demolished one of its warehouses to make way for innovative answers for mixed-use housing.
The Tramway building here was where the Tramway company stored some of its trams. If you’re familiar with REI at Confluence Park, that’s where the trams were built. At this location, a union strike against Tramway caused a ruckus, and ended up killing five bystanders in 1920.
No matter what corner you turn, there’s something fun to see. The old bashes up against the new, and the neighbors are warm and friendly in Cole.
The route (click for interactive route):
Continue south on Lafayette St. Take a left on E 33rd and walk around the Cole Middle School by walking out to Martin Luther King, Jr, and taking a left. Take a left on Franklin, heading north.
At Bruce Randolph Ave take a right. Continue to High St. Notice the old Carnegie Library on the corner of High and Bruce Randolph that is now converted to condos. Continue to Vine St. Take a left.
Continue along Vine to Russell Square Park, taking a left on E 36th Ave. At Gilpin Street, take a left and walk around the Tramway Building and view the new Cole Train site where the housing will go in. At E 35th, take a right. At Franklin, take a right and notice the old Tramway garage doors that may be red.
At the intersection of E 36th and Franklin, enjoy the views of the old Wyatt School, now Wyatt Academy. Enjoy the gorgeous trim work near the fascia and above the main door.
Continue north up Franklin. Take a left on E 37th Ave. Take a right on Humboldt, returning back to the Rec Center.
Cozying Up in Cole 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.
See you on the trail,