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Life On Colfax

Will Denver Voters Give This Old Wicked Street Some Love On Nov. 7?

By Cara DeGette, Editor, GPHC

Top Photo: East Colfax, circa ~1930. Photo credit: Western History and Genealogy Dept./Denver Public Library; Above: Hilarie Portell, executive director of Colfax-Mayfair BID, on Colfax at Fairfax, circa 2017. Photo by Cara DeGette

Colfax Avenue, traversing along the southern boundary of Park Hill, is 26.1 miles long, the longest commercial street in the United States. The street was named in honor of Schuyler Colfax, the long-ago Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives when the 13th Amendment was ratified.

Since Colfax Avenue first showed up on Denver maps 150 years ago, the stretch has been the destination of many a traveler – from miners who used it as a gateway west to find gold, to vacationing families and businessmen who stayed at one of dozens of iconic motels along the route, to prostitutes and drug dealers hustling their wares.

In the 1970s Playboy’s Hugh Hefner dubbed Colfax the “longest, wickedest street in America.” In recent years, Colfax has undergone another transformation, with hip bars and restaurants and a multitude of independently owned businesses. But for all its fame, Denver’s original main street hasn’t lately gotten much love in the way of road and sidewalk improvements.

Residents hold a block party and protest on Sept. 25, 2004 at Colfax and Krameria Street to oppose the plan to build a McDonald’s restaurant there. Photo credit: Ken Papaleo/Rocky Mountain News

Broncos Billboard on East Colfax advertising its new advertising campaign circa 2005. Photo credit: George Kochaniec, Jr./Rocky Mountain News; Above: Afternoon snow on Christmas Day, Dec. 25, 2007. Photo credit: George Kochaniec, Jr./Rocky Mountain News

Afternoon snow on Christmas Day, Dec. 25, 2007. Photo credit: George Kochaniec, Jr./Rocky Mountain News

Hilarie Portell, the president of the Colfax-Mayfair Business Improvement District, hopes a $20 million boost along the street, would help the street become more of what she calls a “community corridor” – where people living in the surrounding neighborhoods can easily access local businesses and not have to drive to other parts of the city to get what they need.

The $20 million is part of a larger bond package for infrastructure and capital improvements that the City of Denver is asking voters to approve on Nov. 7. The projects – $937 million in all – range from money for street and sidewalk repairs, to libraries, recreation and cultural centers, to police, fire, and Denver Health.

The section of Colfax through Park Hill would see enhanced pedestrian crossings, and added street lights, trash cans, permeable landscape and trees. (For a complete breakdown, including how the bond works, check out

And the bigger picture? “What I’m envisioning is a street that makes your to-do list easier,” says Portell, describing the ultimate pedestrian-friendly, transit-friendly Colfax.

“I would like to have a good business mix there that helps people with their day-to-day rounds – pick up a bottle of wine, drop off your dry cleaning, grab some garden supplies, have dinner with your friend. Whatever is on your list, Colfax ought to be able to provide.”

The Colfax-Mayfair Business Improvement District runs along East Colfax between Eudora Street and Monaco Parkway, and also includes the Mayfair Town Center at 14th and Krameria.

Other projects that directly impact Colfax Avenue and its surrounding neighborhoods are in the works through East Denver. They include city-sponsored projects for an East Area Plan Initiative to update the blueprint for the eastern portion of Denver; a Rapid Transit plan for East Colfax, and long-tem planning to improve the stormwater infrastructure in the Upper Montclair Basin, which includes the southern portion of Park Hill.


November 7 Is Election Day.

Do You Know Where Your Ballot Is?

On Tuesday, Nov. 7, Denver voters will decide whether to give the go-ahead for $937 million worth of general obligation bond projects, which include the $20 million for improvements along Colfax between Monaco Boulevard and Sheridan Street. (For a detailed list of all projects, go to

In addition, voters will elect four of seven Denver Public Schools board members to oversee the state’s largest school district.

Every Colorado voter now receives a mail ballot. If you want to vote at the polls, you can vote in-person. Go to to find your polling location.

You can also go to to check your registration status, and to make sure your information is up-to-date. Log into your voter record, which will show whether your mail ballot has been sent. If you have more questions about the status of your mail ballot, contact Denver Elections at

Here are critical election-related dates:

Monday, Oct. 16: Last day to register to vote.

Monday, Oct: 16: First day that mail ballots can be mailed out.

Tuesday, Nov. 7 – Election Day: Polls open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

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