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Colfax Avenue
Colorado's Main Street

Colfax Avenue is a 43-kilometer (26-mile) commercial strip also called US-40 and Business Loop or Business Route 70. With three to four lanes for its entire length it is a major thoroughfare for the cities of Denver, Lakewood, and Aurora. It is reputed to be the longest such street in the United States, and possibly the world.

One of its more striking features is the relative lack of curves for the vast majority of its length. There are just two in Denver, it curves around the Civic Center Park and jogs a bit at the intersection with Josephine Street.

As Metropolitan residential areas began to emerge around Denver, they first concentrated along Colfax Avenue. Colorado's "Main Street" received its name during this early era. As part of a plant to curry the favor of Speaker of the House Schuyler Colfax it was named for him during an 1864 visit. The plan worked and Colfax supported Colorado's bid for statehood, but despite this Colorado failed to gain statehood for another twelve years.

The center of the city is the confluence of Colfax and Broadway. There the State Capitol building overlooks the civic center and the Neo-Classical Denver City and County Building.

From the 1930's through the 1960's the automobile came to dominate the roads and Colfax became a popular cruise corridor. This road to the Rockies became lined with motels, hotels, restaurants, and car dealerships along both the sections in Lakewood and the new city of Aurora. Several well-known theaters like The Bluebird and The Ogden were built and made the street popular among residents as well as the tourists.

Colfax Avenue's decline started due to the building of Interstate 70 and the decline of downtown Denver in the late 1960s. Up until recent renovations took place, central Colfax Avenue became notorious for being a crime-ridden, dismal stretch of road, reputation it has yet to entirely shed despite various revival attempts in the 1990's.

I like the street, despite its problems. I would not try to travel the full length of the boulevard during busy times of the day, but at night it becomes surreally beautiful. Parts of it look like a faded set for American Graffiti. Classic US Auto in style. On occassion I have driven the route from end to end, where it intersects with I-70.

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