Named after Schuyler Colfax (1823-1885), a political figure that served as the Speaker of the House of Representatives and AS the Vice President to Ulysses S. Grant. Colfax Avenue has been called many things since it first appeared on the maps in 1868. US Highway 40, Golden Road, Gateway to the Rockies, Grand Avenue and most notoriously by playboy magazine, "the longest, wickedest street in America."
This stretch of 26.1 miles is filled with beautiful people, created in God's image who live in a setting that is broadly poor. Many of them are in hard spots in their lives. Each has their own story, but many patterns emerge: homelessness, domestic violence, addiction, immense family brokenness, prostitution, drugs, gangs and mental illness. it is an interracial demographic with a growing addition of refugee groups that are moving into the area. The population is mostly on the extremely poor to lower middle-class end of the economic scale.
East Colfax Avenue, specifically, has about twenty-five old motels. These motels are rugged places. Most were built in the 1940's and 1950's when Colfax Avenue was a key part of Highway 40, a primary cross-country route. Travelers driving through would stay at one of these vacation and family-friendly places. But when I-70 was built to the north, the motels went through the same kind of decline the entire community did. Now they have become places of last refuge, where many go when they have no other option than sleeping on the streets.
In the motels, there is everything from the working poor to people who have scraped together enough money to get off the street for a night or two. Violence, prostitution and drug-dealing are a part of daily life. Employment and housing issues are tremendous. Community re-entry is also a significant issue for individuals just out of prison.
Adding to the complication of the area, is the 184-acre Life Science District that occupies the former Fitsimmons Army Hospital land. Hundreds of millions of dollars have been poured into this area just west of I-225 and the redeveloped areas of Stapleton to the west and Lowry to the south are affluent as well. In the middle of that, there is severe poverty amongst a diverse population and various levels of need.