Saturday, November 10, 2018

--- Auraria West to Osage ---

This was a very short hike. The light rail station is just at the very edge of Auraria campus near Colfax. The Domo is on the first block across Colfax, and the 10th Street and Osage Station is just a few blocks further. All in all, I doubt if Auraria West Station is two miles from 10th Street and Osage, but this hike is packed with interesting places.

Auraria West Station is my last station-to-station hike for a while. Next month, I start exploring the light rail termini. Alameda is the last station to transfer to other lines to the north and east. Alameda West is on the line that continues to Union Station and it is also where the W Line, which heads west to Golden, splits off.

As mentioned above, it is right on the border of the Auraria campus, which is shared by three colleges: Community College of Denver, Metropolitan State University of Denver, and the University of Colorado - Denver.

                                                              [Auraria West Station]

I've been through Auraria West Station several times. It's on the way to the Human Services offices in the Castro Building and the W Line serves the Golden area.

Frankly, the area isn't that impressive from the station, but there are some suggestive sights. I've heard of and seen the back of the Domo Restaurant from the light rail. It doesn't look like much from the back of the building but it has a good reputation. I can also see this building from the station - it looks like an old Spanish mission.

                                                      [Saint Cajetan's from the station]

As I walk around the parking area, I realize that it is on the Auraria Campus. Reaching Colfax, I saw a trail heading back onto the campus and I took that and am almost immediately at the Ninth Street Historic Park.

When the early settlers moved up stream from the short lived Montana City, they established a settlement called "Auraria". The name made plain the people's interest - gold.  It was founded in 1858, three weeks before William Larimer staked out the future Denver City across Cherry Creek. The settlers, lead by William Greeneberry Russell, was a group from Georgia, and the town was named after Auraria, Georgia.

I keep finding ties back to my homeland. Before I retired, I had left the Southeastern United States exactly four time, once on a construction ministry trip to Great Falls, Montana, and three times to Denver. I guess it was only natural that I would end up in Denver, and I keep finding all these links back to Georgia and Alabama.

The Ninth Street Historic Park has preserved a section of old Auraria - a row of houses that now serve as administrative buildings and museums for the Auraria Campus. The buildings display a variety of styles from the late 1800s and early 1900s and each has a plaque out front that provides a little of the history. Here are pictures of some of the buildings.

                                                        [Ninth Street Historic Park]

After wandering around the park a while, I made a beeline for the big Spanish style building and found that it was, indeed, an old church, built in 1920, which is now a part of the college campus. On the day I visited, they were having a blood drive but the registration crew told me quite a lot about the building. There are some interesting stained glass windows there.

                                                              [Saint Cajetan's]

They also told me a little about the chapel across the way, which was my next stop.

                                                            [Emmanuel Gallery]

The oldest religious structure still standing in Denver, the Emmanuel Chapel was built in 1876. First an Episcopal chapel, the building later became a Jewish synagogue, as indicated by the inscription now over the door, and is now an art gallery. It was hosting an exhibition by the German artist Aram Bartholl on the day of my visit.

His work is very modernistic and strikingly "clean". The gallery was spacious, white, and neon. He's worth looking up (hint: there's a Wikipedia article.)

Locals make great tour guides if you know how to talk to them. The folks at the art gallery directed me toward the student union building, an old, massive brewery called "Tivoli". The Tivoli Brewing Company, still in operation, was founded in 1859 in this huge brick building that looks like something right out of a Charles Dickens novel.

                                                           [Tivoli Brewing Company]

After another pass through the Ninth Street Historic Park, I left the campus, crossed Colfax, and walked to the Domo Japanese Restaurant, which is a reconstruction of a Japanese farmhouse. Restaurant, museum, gardens, and cultural center, it was an experience meal. The authentic Japanese food was served in an authentic manner in an authentic setting complete with tree stumps for seats. It made me happy.

                                                   [The Domo Japanese Restaurant]

After a big bowl of ramen and three sides (I don't know what they were, and I didn't ask. They were tasty.), I looked around the gardens, made a donation for the Myamar refuges, and headed down Osage toward Lincoln Park, a large green with a water park (closed for the winter) and a mural by Emanuel Martinez, that contains both modern and ancient symbols. It's called "La Alma" (The Soul, painted in 1978.

                                                                         [La Alma]

10th Street and Osage Station was close by. On the way back to University Station, I took the opportunity of taking pictures of the light rail reflected in upper stories of buildings as it passed on the elevated track just south of Broadway Station.

                                                               [Reflected train]

Does your town have any old buildings open to the public? One of my past hometowns, Selma, Alabama, had over 1000 antebellum structures. Old homes are great places to get in touch with past cultures.

I'll probably be making more trips to old Auraria. College campuses have always attracted me - they're like sprawling indoor-outdoor museums providing exhibitions in just about every field of interest, events, and many peoplewatching opportunities.

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