Downtown Denver: Capitol Area


After visiting the Capitol Building, but before hopping in my car and continuing my drive around town, I checked out a few of the other noteworthy landmarks nearby.  The most noticeable is certainly the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, or less formally, the Denver Cathedral.

Construction began on the Denver Cathedral in 1906, its twin spires (measuring 210 feet) were capped in 1911, and the church was consecrated in 1921.  In 1993, Pope John Paul II visited for World Youth Day — a statue of the pontiff stands outside to commemorate his visit.

If you’d prefer a Baptist church over a Catholic one, you don’t have to go very far.  The First Baptist Church of Denver is just south of the capitol, on 14th Avenue at Grant Street.  Its claim to fame is its pipe organ, the largest between Chicago and Salt Lake City.  It has 8,000 pipes, some made in Europe, others in North America.

As I wandered back up to Colfax Avenue…

… I checked out the neon at the Hotel Newhouse, which looks a little bit sketchy (a suspicion confirmed by many reviews posted online).

A report on the local Denver NBC station in 2011 uncovered that there were 11 sex offenders living in the Hotel Newhouse

Back in the car, I took a roundabout path (as you’ll see in the Drivelapse video) to get into downtown Denver, where I took a walk along the…

16th Street Pedestrian Mall

The city of Denver has created a great promenade for shopping and dining, right in the middle of the skyscrapers.  The 16th Street Pedestrian Mall offers dozens of restaurants and stores, as well as a nice, clean, vehicle-free urban area.

The centerpiece of the mall is the Daniels and Fisher Tower, built in 1910 as part of a huge downtown department store.  The store was eventually sold, shut down, and demolished, but the tower remains — complete with clock faces on all four sides, and a 2.5 ton bell.  Most of the tower is now rented out as office space, but there is an entertainment venue in the basement.

It isn’t easy to get to the top of the Daniels and Fisher Tower.  If you book a private event at the tower, you might be able to gain access.  Otherwise, you’ll need to wait for Doors Open Denver, a once-a-year event that provides access to dozens of landmarks around the city.  During that two-day event, you can check out the view from the 17th-story observation deck, and even see the clockworks from inside.

Along 16th Street, you can walk without worrying about oncoming traffic.  The pedestrian path passes by restaurants like Tilted Kilt and Cheesecake Factory.

I looped around, on my way back to the car.  That big building you see in the lower-right of the photo is the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, Denver Branch.  Apparently, during typical bankers hours, you can walk inside and take a free tour, but I didn’t know that at the time.

Speaking of tours that let you look at someone else’s money, you might want to take a tour of the Denver Mint, where coins are manufactured.  It’s located at 320 West Colfax Avenue, near the Colorado Capitol Building.  Tours are free, but reservations are required.

Leaving downtown, I didn’t quite know what to do with myself.  I needed to end up near Boulder for the night, but it was too early to drive directly there (even though it had been a long morning of flying across the country).  So, I took 6th Avenue (US 6) to I-70, and headed for the mountains.

Drivelapse Video

Here’s the time-lapse, dash-cam video of the drive through downtown Denver, then out of town, towards the mountains:

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