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Colfax Avenue, signs of western journey

Each year Colorado Preservation Inc identifies a number of interesting and threatened buildings across the state. A few years ago, prominent on the list, was a collective entry - the older advertising signs along Denver's Colfax Avenue. I have been making images of these signs for years, so I decided to re-post this blog entry of mine from some time ago: Colfax Avenue runs east-west through Denver, Colorado and is an approximately 26 mile journey from the eastern plains through the heart of the city westward to the base of the mountains.  Starting out as US Highway 40, it was the main entry into Denver from the east until the interstate highway system displaced its welcoming role.  The vestiges of that motor age are still evident in the aging signs that dot its length.  Once known as the "wickedest street in America", Colfax is pretty tame these days as the muffler shops and fast-food outlets slowly displace the decaying motor inns and diners, vice and violence.

Starting from the eastern edge, you can get ready for your trip to the West by dressing the part

as the city of Aurora, on the eastern edge of Denver welcomes you to the region with the hazy mountains in the far distance

even as you pass the exit for the airport

on the way to the urbane sophistication of the city

Of course there are not many of the older places left as you get closer to downtown Denver, the speculative real estate market has no patience for keeping these aging, low-density dinosaurs around for long.  As you pass through Denver headed west you are welcomed again, this time by suburban Lakewood.

(looks like Bugs had a hard night boozing along the wickedest street)

The path is in sight of the Rocky Mountains now, the legendary West unrolling in front of you with its requisite cowboys

all the way to the end of the trail

to the sagebrush and mountains beyond

Not exactly the "street of dreams" or the "miracle mile", Colfax is more of a passage than a destination.  After traveling west across the vast expanse of the midwest, Colfax rises up, trying to desperately slow down the traveler and provide whatever rest and relaxation, flesh and goods and liquor the remaining journey may require.

For a bit more history, there is a good, brief article in Westword by Bree Davies on the best commercial signs on Colfax.