Located in the city and county of Denver, Colorado area, the Capitol Hill neighborhood is bordered by Broadway, Downing Street, Colfax Avenue, and Seventh Avenue, which carry large volumes of traffic around the neighborhood. It is technically located in East Denver which begins immediately east of Broadway, the neighborhood’s western boundary.
Many consider the Cheesman Park neighborhood to be a part of the Capitol Hill neighborhood, but as defined by the city , Cheesman Park is a separate neighborhood. Denver also recognizes a statistical neighborhood called North Capitol Hill, also known as Uptown by some residents. Colfax Avenue is the border between these two neighborhoods.
The neighborhood was originally the home of Denver’s elite who constructed elaborate mansions. As the economy of Denver slumped after the Silver Crash of 1893, construction in Capitol Hill concentrated on apartments.
Three buildings still in existence are examples of the architecture of this time: The Colonnade, Alta Court (currently an office building), and the Hamilton. This cultural and demographic shift, from single-family mansions toward boarding houses and rental property for the transient middle class, marked a shift toward the present multi-family dominance of the neighborhood.
Capitol Hill remained a solid middle-class neighborhood until after World War II, when middle-class families left Capitol Hill. The demographics of people left behind were transients and renters.
Another watershed in the history of Capitol hill was the completion of Interstate 70. No longer did incoming tourists drive down East Colfax Avenue on their way into downtown. The tourist dollar was effectively wiped out as a revenue source for East Colfax after this decade. So began another downward spiral. With no tourists to spend money along East Colfax the businesses suffered, as did the demand to go to Capitol Hill.
The affordability, urban character and eclectic architecture made the area appealing to young bohemians, artists, musicians (Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg were former neighborhood residents) which has led to a gradual gentrification that reached its height during the 2000s.
The rents in the neighborhood have increased significantly over the past decade, and many of the cheap apartments in the area have been converted into more expensive condominiums. Nonetheless the neighborhood has an older housing stock which lacks off-street parking, contributing to a relative affordability compared to other central neighborhoods.
Currently many portions of East Colfax Avenue are undergoing redevelopment to make them denser and more pedestrian-friendly. Despite these redevelopment efforts, a brief stroll along Colfax Avenue through the Capitol Hill neighborhood will provide a glimpse of its history.