I moved to Denver in 1992. I went to high school in the ‘burbs of Denver. After graduation I moved to capital hill, in the worst apartment I have ever lived in. It was on 11th between Pennsylvania and Pearl, it’s still there and it’s still has the same stale small of cheep beer and weed. I moved in because I had two great friends that lived upstairs. I lived in the front “garden level” one bedroom, it was a basement with one window that opened.
I kept the one window open whenever I was home. I had a formica table, two old chairs, and a very small black and white TV. I would keep all of my food in the refrigerator because the building had a roach problem. It was not apparent when I first moved into the building but once a water pipe burst and the building flooded, out came the roaches.
One night, I was watching the Avalanche on TV and making Mac & Cheese when a homeless man started crawling into my window and said “that smells good! Can I have some?” He didn’t get in and never bothered me again.
I saw my first dead body in that apartment building. Then, the woman that lived upstairs from me killed herself in her bathtub. My girlfriend was at my place when I got home, she pointed out the puddle of blood on my kitchen floor. Apparently, she cut her wrists and ankles and kept the water running. It was time to look for a new place to live.
I moved into a large house half a block from Colfax, in between the Blue Bird and Ogden Theater. Life got better. My roommates, for the most part were nice guys that paid their bills. We did kick-out one guy because of his heroin use (he later killed someone while driving intoxicated and ended up in jail, we lost contact). But, as everyone who lived in Denver during the 1990’s knows, East Colfax had its problems, prostitutes, drugs, homeless people, it was a part of the city that never stopped moving.
Denver was not a bad city. It had a lot to offer, I was able to take advantage of a good public transportation system and find work with no education. I met great people. I was introduced to new people from a variety of states and countries and professions. Living in the city opened doors to white and blue collar connections. If I was smarter, I would have paid more attention to the connections and the advice they were giving.
I returned to Denver in 2015. The trip was far more “trip down memory lane” then I was expecting. The school has changed but not much. My old neighborhood in the ‘burbs looks pretty much the same, which is strangely comforting. My first apartment looks like the day I left it, which is incredibly sad. The house off of Colfax still has one of my old roommates kicking around.
Anyone that has visited Denver knows it has gone through some major transformations. It is one of the fastest growing cities in the states, if not the fastest. And it’s not just people, there are buildings and parts of the city that are totally different than when I left. But because it is Denver, history is part of the overall identity of the city. Union Station has been renovated and it is beautiful. It has really become a meeting place for the city. The Tattered Cover is not as big as it used to be but it is still on the corner of 16th and Wynkoop. The Blue Bird and the Ogden Theaters still have live music and Pete’s Kitchen is still open all night serving greasy dinner food as a preventative to tomorrow’s hangover.
Denver’s still one of my favorite cities. The growth has made it lose a bit of it’s old feel but it has also brought new life to old sections of town that needed a boost. I am excited to spend more time getting to know the city that helped shape me into the person I am now.