"Last night I saw bats flapping about the Golden Dome of the State Capitol. If I were a bat, I’d go and get gold. Up-at-the-dome with the goldy bats." -Jack Kerouac (included in a letter to Allen Ginsberg; June 10, 1949)
Near the corner of 26th and Champa, in the Curtis Park neighborhood, Jack Kerouac visited this squat, brick building which was once a barbershop run by Neal Cassady’s father. Jack describes in several writings how he would haunt locations like these when he was alone in Denver, missing his friends- especially Neal.
This was Cassady Sr.’s last barbershop.
"[I] worked awhile in the wholesale fruit market where I almost got hired in 1947 - the hardest job of my life; at one point the Japanese kids and I had to move a whole boxcar a hundred feet down the rail by hand with a jack-gadget that made it move a quarter-inch with each yank. I lugged watermelon crates over the ice floor of reefers into the blazing sun, sneezing. In God’s name and under the stars, what for?"
-Jack Kerouac, On the Road.
The Denargo Produce Market located @ 3325 Denargo St. Denver, CO (formerly 2901 Broadway).
Jack Kerouac worked at the Denargo Produce Market for one full day in 1947 before he was asked not to return. I don’t know what sort of clerical error led to his rehire, but he also worked here again for a considerably-longer stint (about 3 weeks) in 1949, when he tried making Denver his permanent address.
“Jack was Here” graffiti pays unwanted homage to Kerouac all around Colorado. Read Westword’s article about Jack was Here.
Jack Kerouac spent quite a bit of time on Larimer St. and would sometimes browse through the pawn shops on the 2100 block. A few of the buildings from this period remain; the pawn shops are still marked as such but have for the most part been re-purposed as bars.
"Only a few days ago I’d come into Denver like a bum; now I was all racked up sharp in a suit, with a beautiful well dressed blonde on my arm, bowing to dignitaries and chatting in the lobby under chandeliers." - Kerouac, On the Road
Jack attended Beethoven’s Fidelio with Beverly Burford at the Central City opera house in 1947.
"Our day’s work over, Tim, Rawlins, and I decided to sharp up for the big night. We went across town to the rooming house where the opera stars were living. Across the night we heard the beginning of the evening performance. ‘Just right,’ said Rawlins. ‘Latch on to some of these razors and towels and we’ll spruce up a bit.’ We also took hairbrushes, colognes, shaving lotions, and went laden into the bathroom. We all took baths and sang. ‘Isn’t this great?’ Tim Gray kept saying. ‘Using the opera stars’ bathroom and towels and shaving lotion and electric razors.’"
- Jack Kerouac, On the Road
(Ray Rawlins = Bob Burford; Tim Grey = Ed White)
This is the Teller Boarding House next door to the opera house.
"Central City is two miles high; at first you get drunk on the altitude, then you get tired, and there’s a fever in your soul. We approached the lights around the opera house down the narrow dark street; then we took a sharp right and hit some old saloons with swinging doors. Most of the tourists were in the opera. We started off with a few extra-size beers. There was a player piano. Beyond the back door was a view of mountainsides in the moonlight. I let out a yahoo. The night was on."
-Jack Kerouac, On the Road
This is the back door of the Bonanza, a saloon turned casino that fits the above description perfectly.
During his first visit to Denver in 1947, Jack Kerouac took a trip up to Central City.
In On the Road, Kerouac gives the impression that he drank at every saloon in the town and it was our intention to tag every remaining saloon. Unfortunately, we were at least 30 years younger than the youngest person we saw and so there were eyes on us the whole time we were there, forcing us to limit the scale of our ambitions.
This is the Century Casino on Main.
The Oasis was located at 1729 E. Colfax Ave. where a Taco Bell now stands. The old establishment used to serve milkshakes and cheeseburgers to East High students and the like and was frequented by Neal Cassady. He used to ditch his afternoon classes to steal a car, pick a girl up at The Oasis, and then drive her to the mountains for the night. Kerouac, a fan of good looking Denver girls, visited The Oasis a couple of times while he was in Denver.
This wall is adjacent to the Taco Bell’s drive thru.
Benedict Fountain Park is kitty-corner to Ebert Elementary School which Neal Cassady attended for five years. Kerouac used to nap in this park.
Ed White’s family lived on East 14th Ave. in Denver. Jack Kerouac had dinner here on at least one occasion.