A grassy areas with a tree on the side of a campus building; tall buildings in downtown Denver appear in the distance.

Six Feet of Separation

I suspected that the Auraria Campus in Denver would be an easy place to maintain six feet of separation from others, and it was. A Saturday afternoon walk on March 21 was the first time I felt something amiss. There has continued to be a lot of activity outside of my home every day for the past week, so this walk was my first encounter with the emptiness wrought by COVID-19.

A surprise on the way to campus

I walked the Cherry Creek Trail to Speer Boulevard to access the Campus.  Off of Speer, I happened upon a connection to Youngstown, Ohio — my hometown.  Denver’s 14th Street Viaduct was built in 1896 and torn down in 1988.  The Youngstown Bridge Company of Youngstown, Ohio, was awarded the contract for the superstructure of the 1,467-long trestle.  The viaduct is long gone, but pieces of it remain.

I had never heard of the Youngstown Bridge Company.  I found a six-minute video with some of the Company’s projects.  

It turns out that the Mill Creek Park Suspension Bridge in Youngstown, Ohio, was built by this company.  I recalled taking this photo of my oldest sister in front of the Suspension Bridge in 2011.

A woman in a yellow top stands to the left of a gray suspension bridge in a metropolitan park in Ohio; it is summer with
My oldest sister stands to the left of the 1895 Suspension Bridge in Mill Creek Park.

This Bridgehunter link shows that most of the Youngstown Bridge Company bridges have been replaced, but some are still open to traffic, including the Suspension Bridge above.

Three water quotes

Once on the Auraria Campus, I came upon three water quotes.  There was no water feature nearby, so I am not sure what inspired these quotes to be placed in a Campus walkway.  Both Cherry Creek and the South Platte River were flowing rapidly this week; I have stopped multiple times just to enjoy the flow of water, so the quotes seemed especially relevant to me.

Ease of maintaining six feet

I had never been on the Campus before, so I am not sure how populated it would normally have been on a Saturday afternoon.  Knowing it is shut down due to COVID-19 made it seem more desolate.

Church structures

There are multiple churches incorporated into the Campus; I saw two of them today. The Emmanuel Gallery began as an Episcopalian Chapel in 1876.  For the first half of the 20th Century, it served as a synagogue.  It is Denver’s oldest standing church structure. St. Cajetan’s Church was built in 1925 and served the area’s Spanish-speaking community until 1973.

Signs of the times

As I began to head back across campus, I was pleased to see spring bulbs in bloom; these crocuses and daffodils are the first I have observed in Denver. I noticed a single disinfectant wipe nestled among the bulbs and realized that the COVID-19 pandemic leaves a mark here too. A little further on, crossing Speer Boulevard, I noticed a pair of blue nitrile gloves.

I selected the Auraria Campus to achieve six feet of separation; my walk exceeded expectations in that regard. I anticipated I would feel safe. Instead, the outing left me feeling disturbed and saddened despite the notes of spring all around. As I finish writing this post, Denver has announced stay-at-home orders that will go into effect on Tuesday, March 24.

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