To know the story of Colfax is to truly understand the personality of the Denver metro area. The gravel-and-tar artery that once ushered visitors in from the open road now hosts a variety of people and cultures along America's longest main street.Westword
is taking a look at Route 40's history through the signage found in each section of the strip; this edition covers the stretch from Colorado Boulevard to east of Havana. Stay tuned for a final list of central Colfax's greatest signs.
See also: Ten Best Commercial Signs on West Colfax
10) Carriage Motor Inn 9201 East Colfax Back in its heyday, Colfax was known as the "Gateway to the Rockies," acting as the main thoroughfare for motorists heading into the city. These travelers needed lodging, and the Carriage Motor Inn offered an affordable opportunity for a night's rest. There are dozens of these motor lodges along the 26-mile strip. 9) Mataam Fez 4609 East Colfax Though the rest of the signs on this list are mostly highlighted for their use of neon and light, Mataam Fez's iconic Colfax facade has been greeting customers with its sleek lettering since 1976. A reflection of the Moroccan restaurant's equally festive interior, the outside signage is an attention-grabber on an already visually stimulating street. 8) Capitol Liquor 4600 East Colfax A mix of curvy lettering, three-dimensional sign work (the letters in "liquor" are raised) and the zig-zag of connecting neon tubes, this liquor-store sign has a little extra flair. Plus, the attached marquee offers another eye-catching element to pull in customers. 7) Orlando Apartments 8300 East Colfax Another throwback structure from the era when Colfax was an open road for travel, Orlando Apartments is one of many motels converted into short-term housing. The sign itself isn't vintage, but the styled letters and colorful neon work make it look like a great throwback to another era. Keep reading for six more of the best commercial signs on East Colfax Avenue. 6) Nuggs Ice Cream Parlour 5135 East Colfax A brand-new addition to East Colfax's illuminated existence, Nuggs Ice Cream Parlor opened early this year with a bright white coat of paint and an even brighter neon red sign. The lettering is simple but bold, an eye-catching invitation for passing pedestrians to stop in for the tasty scoops inside. 5) Dalke's Laundry 8935 East Colfax Another fantastic, new neon sign on East Colfax, Dalke's Laundry uses modern lettering with the classic illuminating art form. The sign's design is elevated by being set above the building, where it's eye-catching on a wavy grid. 4) Los Toritos #2 9405 East Colfax This newer, diamond-shaped sign complements the Googie-style architecture of this restaurant housed in an old White Spot. Los Toritos #2 didn't skimp on any details, either, with red-and-green neon lettering easily read from the street. Keep reading for three more of the best commercial signs on East Colfax.
This sign is a great mix of traditional incandescent bulbs and neon work (though the tubes are no longer illuminated). The bouncy curves along the top and the wiggly lettering in "dancing" make this sign look like it's moving, which is appropriate for the building's current occupant -- a strip club.2) R&R Bar 4958 East Colfax
The R&R Bar's multi-dimensional sign is one of the best living examples of a bygone era when neon work was ubiquitous along busy strips like Colfax. Varying colors of neon, three different fonts and a glowing martini all make the sign on this still-hopping bar one of a kind.1) Aurora Fox Arts Center 9900 East Colfax
Built in 1946 as a movie house, the Aurora Fox Arts Center is now home to live theater, music, dance and other art-driven and cultural performances. Though the building's function has changed, the wonderful vertical marquee and long, sleek lines of neon tubing are still being used to lure patrons.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
Be my voyeur (or better yet, let me stalk you) on Twitter: @cocodavies