Every week, 9NEWS is highlighting a Colorado neighborhood as part of #9Neighborhoods. Join us for a tour of Jefferson Park Friday on Instagram!
Historic houses stand in front of a backdrop of gargantuan luxury apartment complexes.
There are families that have been there for generations … as well as plenty of folks with tiny dogs fresh off the U-Haul from California.
There are a couple of very authentic Mexican restaurants … as well as two breweries within just a couple of blocks of one another.
The Jefferson Park neighborhood is just north of the soon-to-be-renamed Sports Authority Field at Mile High Stadium and due west of downtown. Over the last couple of years, this relatively small area has become one of Denver’s most popular – and one that represents how many people see modern Denver.
The neighborhood is bounded by Federal Boulevard to the west, West 29th Avenue and Speer Boulevard to the north, the South Platte River to the east and 19th Avenue to the south.
This might seem crazy given that you can literally walk downtown within 30 minutes, but a portion of Jefferson Park used to be considered Denver’s first suburb.
It was the Town of Highland, which was first incorporated in 1875. The intention was that it was something of an “elite” suburb, with men working in Denver then heading to their classy Highland retreat that touted “clean artesian water” and even cleaner morals (you can’t make this stuff up).
Of course, you had to get across the Platte River to get to actual Denver – something that was so hard back in the day that getting a safe way to do so was used as a bargaining chip in 1896 for the mayor at the time to force Highland to be annexed into the Mile High City.
Jefferson Park, the park that it is also the neighborhood’s namesake (duh) was landscaped in the early 20th century and named after President Thomas Jefferson.
By the 1960s, people started to abandon some of the properties in Jefferson Park for the suburbs, and crime and violence increased throughout the neighborhood.
But by the 1990s, the city of Denver decided to focus on Jefferson Park, and a Jefferson Park United Neighbors coalition was formed to help upgrade parts of the neighborhood and curb potentially detrimental development proposals (one included replacing the park with an amphitheater – something that didn’t end up happening).
Today, the neighborhood has a diverse mix of young professionals who want to live close to downtown without paying downtown prices (even though they’re getting close) and families that have been there for a while.
Of course, many of the properties in the neighborhood – even some of the historic houses – are used as rentals, and construction is abundant in this developing neighborhood right on the edge of downtown.
Shopping and dining is scattered throughout the neighborhood, but there is a small, local hub on Eliot Street between 26th and 24th avenues.
Sexy Pizza's (2460 Eliot St.) menu includes creative pies and pasta in a hip, casual setting. Just across the street, Sarto's (2900 W. 25th Ave.) uses a wood-stove up to serve up all the Italian classics.
Near Sarto's is a quaint and eclectic little coffee shop called 2914 Coffee (2914 W. 25th Ave.), and around the corner is Jefferson Park Pub, which serves up specialty cocktails and has a rotating menu.
Just west of I-25 is the South Platte River Trail, which is always bustling with cyclists, joggers and walkers and runs all the way along the eastern edge of the neighborhood, passing by such attractions as the Downtown Aquarium and Children's Museum of Denver.
One of Jefferson's Park most fun attractions is the once-mortuary now-mansion/restaurant Adams Mystery Playhouse (2406 Federal Blvd.), where diners help solve a humorous murder mystery while eating at a buffet.
Other spots worth a visit in the area are Sassafras American Eatery (2637 W. 26th Ave.), a Southern-style eatery in a historic Victorian mansion; Mackinzie's Cocktails and Wine (2240 Clay St.); and Briar Common Brewery + Eatery (2298 Clay St.), which serves craft beer and bistro-style fare.
Speaking of beer, Little Machine Brewery is on the southern edge of the neighborhood at 20th and Federal, and it’s worth the pilgrimage for its award-winning “Razz Against the Machine” tart raspberry ale alone.
Another place to check out is the Federal Bar and Grill at West 26th Avenue and Federal. This establishment serves up epic burgers and bar food, and has 20 beers on tap – many that are pretty hard to find, all things considered.
Down 26th at Eliot you’ll find Araujos, which used to be part of what Westword referred to as the “breakfast burrito triangle” (one portion of that triangle, Jack N’ Grill, is now closed). The great thing about this establishment is that you can get a good breakfast burrito for under $3, as well as enjoy a margarita (or two) during happy hour without having to take out a loan, because priorities.
On the eastern edge of the neighborhood is the urban Confluence Park, a popular spot for kayakers coming down Cherry Creek where the South Platte River meets.
Elsewhere, Jefferson Park offers a nice picnicking area, a playground and some pretty impressive downtown views.
Want to live in Jefferson Park? The median sales price for all-size properties stands at $515,000, according to real estate website Trulia.com. And the median rent for all-size properties is $2,495, although a two-bedroom can be found for closer to $2,100 a month.
Jefferson Park will also soon be home to a 12-story apartment complex called "Jefferson View," which will bring 248 units to the tight real estate market in the area.