Colfax Avenue is the longest commercial street in all of the continental United States,
spanning from California all the way to New Jersey. Built over 100 years ago, Colfax has changed drastically with the times. Starting out as a dirt path for horses, to the main street traveling through Denver, to the current negative perception- Colfax has seen it all.
In the beginning, Colfax was home to several beautiful mansions and served as one of the most metropolitan boulevards in Colorado with manicured lawns on the medians, and lamp lined streets. It was a tourist destination for anyone visiting the state and winded through the heart of Denver (as it does today). However, with the redevelopment of areas outside of Denver, there was a massive white flight from Colfax Avenue. Additionally with the completion of I-70, Colfax no longer served as the primary way through Denver, causing a significant decrease in tourists. And so the area surrounding the street fell into disrepair. In the 1960s, with the mansions’ property value falling drastically, the state bought the buildings to house those with mental health issues. Thus began Colfax’s infamous reputation as an area with vagrants, criminals, and sex work.
Recent efforts to revitalize the community have been met with pushback due to the negative effects of gentrification. However, there continues to be a robust community that lives among Colfax Avenue dedicated to the equitable improvement of the neighborhood. (A) (B)
East Colfax Neighborhood Anti-Displacement Plan from the East Colfax Neighborhood Association (ECNA):
As of mid-2019, the East Colfax neighborhood registered close to 30% of its c.11,500 residents living at or below the poverty line, with upwards of 60% listed as "vulnerable to involuntary displacement." We know this means that many of our residents are in urgent need of basics such as food, shelter or lower housing costs, and clothing and other basic items, and the clear majority of our residents will simply not be able to stay in their homes if prices increase.
Our neighborhood must combat the forces of displacement whenever and wherever they occur. ECNA is committed to acknowledging the long history of displacement and profoundly misguided notions of ownership within which we circulate. To that end the following guidelines are being set forth. (Please note: this is a preliminary list and is currently being edited.)
East Colfax Resident Rights
Stable, safe, affordable, and quality housing options.
Safe, walkable neighborhood with reliable transportation.
Access to affordable, quality childcare.
After school and summer opportunities for youth.
Access to healthy, culturally relevant foods
Employment opportunities for youth and adults.
East Colfax Neighborhood Prioritizes:
Gender and racial equity
Employing underserved communities
LIVE MUSIC VENUES
Because of its long stretch across the U.S., East Colfax has long been lined with live music venues where touring bands often stop on their way through from one place to the next. With this year's COVID-19 pandemic, music venues across the country as well as musicians and any artists in the music and entertainment industry, are feeling whiplash. As stated in The Know "...months of wages gone in days — has rocked the entertainment industry. The highly transmissible coronavirus has uniquely affected the country’s music industry, and Denver is no exception."
Nearly 2 million letters were sent to Congress in the hope that they will pass a bill to #SAVEOURSTAGES. While we wait on Congress, please consider supporting the NIVA Emergency Relief Fund to raise money for the country's most vulnerable venues, and keep them afloat. (C)
'Gaki', or 'Hungry Ghosts' are spirits of the dead who are said to cross over from hell to the realm of the living in search of food and entertainment during the 7th month of the Lunar New Year. They are insatiable, and are never able to find nourishment. Gaki are eternally hungry and thirsty. There are many kinds of gaki, each of which suffers in a different way related to the sins he or she committed in a past life - they are emaciated and invisible to the human eye. Our decision for the main character in ZOTTO to encounter Gaki during this Chapter in this location reflects Colfax's juxtaposition of poverty with excess and surplus waste and destitution on a seemingly endlessly long road through the heart of Denver. (D)
Image from a Japanese scroll which describes the realm of the hungry ghosts and how to placate them. Currently housed at the Kyoto National Museum, artist unknown.
Topic: Longest Street in America, Transient Populations, Live Music Venues during COVID-19