First, Let’s Have Fun in Harvey Park
You’ve got to love a neighborhood that will poke fun at itself. Even though Harvey Park (and its southern neighbor Harvey Park South) could easily take on airs, they don’t. Rather, the two communities make a fun, welcoming neighborhood full of variety situated west of College View. The two neighborhoods split at Yale, with a northern boundary of Jewell, a southern boundary of Hampden and western and eastern of Sheridan and Federal.
More than Mid-Centuries
Harvey Park and Harvey Park South have local reputations for having the best collection of mid-century homes (as do Washington Virginia Vale and Virginia Village.) 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.
Merry-Go-Rounds and Teeter Totters
The last time I saw a merry-go-round was 2006 in Scotland. I didn’t think any existed in the US anymore until I stumbled upon the Lakeside private playground. Tucked into Harvey Park’s southwestern corner sits Wolcott Lake and its own private park with merry-go-round and even a teeter-totter! Plus, there were horse swings from the 60s. I personally hope the entire playground gets preserved as an historic district because it certainly was a journey to my childhood.
The Church Calls Polynesia
Also playing the mid-century architectural game, you’ll find the local Trinity Lutheran church. Throwing a shout to Kon-Tiki and Polynesia, the church fits right into the overall feel of the neighborhood.
A Comfy Time Warp
Even though many Denver neighborhoods claim certain decades–and many of them are from the 40s–it was a treat to find a neighborhood only about the 50s. Yes, there were some homes from the other decades, but the entire feel and heartbeat of the ‘hood was 50s, maybe a few 60s, and a bit of the 70s. A roadside diner would fit right in, and it would be a place to grab a shake and spin a record.
Most of the homes were built quickly. Several of them were designed by the famous California architect, Cliff May. A few of those remain and are icons of a moment in time. May came up with the idea for ranch-style homes, a style that built the American suburbs of the 50s. You can find good example of May homes on Meade Street,and on Lowell.
Two Parks and a College
You’ll find the Harvey Park within the Harvey Park neighborhood and Loretto Heights. The park itself has two lakes, a recreation center, a playground and sports facilities.
In 1886, the Sister of Loretto felt that Denver needed some saving. Way out in the south of town was some land where they could found Loretto College Heights Academy for girls, away from the hustle and too much bustle of downtown Denver. Eventually the school grew to become a college for nurses. Men were admitted, additional disciplines were added, and the school became a standard south of Denver. In 1989, the school became the Teikyo Loretto Heights University, in 2009, it became Colorado Heights University, and in 2017, it closed, and many of its programs transferred to Regis University. The campus’ future is uncertain.
Meanwhile, you can sit at Loretto Heights park and look over the campus, its small graveyard, and the western slope.
The Route (click for interactive map):
Start at the Loretto Heights Park, across from 3603 W Linvale Place. Walk to the high point in the park, checking out the amazing views to the west. Then walk southerly toward Colorado Heights University, built in the mid 1800s. Once called Loretto Heights College and home to Catholic nuns and female students, the college eventually became a liberal arts school. Just last year, the decision was made to close the college.
Take a left on S Julian Street. Take a left on W Amherst. Cross over S Meade, staying on Amherst.
Continue on Amherst to S Patton Court. Take a right and then a left on Yale. Continue to S Tennyson Way, where you’ll take a right
At W Lakeridge Rad, take a left and pass the Wolcott Lake private park. Have fun reminiscing about playgrounds of yesteryear. Take a right on Wolff St.
Take a right on West Warren Ave. At S Tennyson Street, take a left. Meander through Harvey Park, and around Harvey Park Lake to the east. Turn southerly, going down S Patton St. Take a left on W Warren Ave.
Take a right on S Osceola St, a left on W Illiff Ave, and then a right on S Meade St. You’ll be in the heart of the mid-century homes with plenty of great examples to admire.
Take a left on Yale and then a right on Lowell, continuing your walk through mid-century mania. At Amherst, veer slightly to the left onto Amherst, returning you back to the Loretto Heights Park parking lot.
Finding Fifties Fun in Harvey Park 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.
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See you on the trail!