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Civic Center, Denver

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Civic Center view of the Greek amphitheater.
Civic Center view of the Greek amphitheater.

Civic Center is a neighborhood in Denver, Colorado. The area is known as the center of the civic life in the city, with numerous institutions of arts, government, and culture as well as numerous festivals, parades, and protests throughout the year. The parkbearing the same name is home to a fountain, several statues, and formal gardens, and includes a Greek amphitheater, a war memorial, and the Voorhies Memorial Seal Pond. It is well known for its symmetrical Neoclassical design.

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Rising from the western edge of America's High Plains, and shadowed by the Rocky Mountains, is Colorado's capital, Denver. The city sprang up in 1858, right were the first flakes of gold in the state were discovered. As it turned out, there wasn't that much gold around Denver, the real riches lay up in the mountains, but ever since, The Mile High City has continued to grow, thanks partly to its incredible weather. Denver is blessed with over 300 days of sunshine per year; that's more than Miami! Just an easy walk or bus ride from Denver's modern downtown is the Golden Triangle, an area filled with grand civic architecture, museums and public art. Climb the stairs to the Capitol Building, where at the 13th step, you'll be exactly one mile above sea level. Spend some time in the Denver Art Museum, which celebrates the region's landscapes and peoples. The museum houses 18 000 Native American treasures, making it one of the most important First Nations' collections in the country. Not far from the Golden Triangle is the Children's Museum of Denver, where little adventurers can discover the world of kinetics, explore nature, and climb aboard a big ol' firetruck. There are plenty of other natural wonders to explore, at the Denver Botanic Gardens, and Butterfly Pavilion. Denverites have always enjoyed the great outdoors, and believe their animal friends should too. Denver Zoo pioneered the use of natural habitats, so its guests can feel right at home, whatever the weather. Uncover the region's prehistoric past at the Denver Museum of Science and Nature. But to really walk in the footsteps of giants, hit the Triceratops Trail at Dinosaur Ridge. Here, on Denver's western outskirts you'll find the Morrison Fossil Area, one of the most extensive dinosaur track and fossil sites in the world. Just up the road is the historic mining town of Golden. Mosey on into the Buffalo Bill Museum on Lookout Mountain, dedicated to the life and times of America's greatest Wild West showman. Just outside, his final resting place sits high on a ridge where the winds whistle through the Ponderosa Pines. Down the hill at the Clear Creek History Park, peer into the lives of the pioneers who carved out a life in shadows and snowdrifts of the Great Divide. Golden is also home to the Colorado Railroad Museum which lovingly maintains the locomotives, cars and cabooses that once traversed the region's High Plains and mountain passes. For many in these parts, the mountains become an obsession. Golden's Mountaineering Museum is dedicated to the technology and spirit of those who answer the call of those lofty peaks. Denverites can't seem to get enough of the great outdoors. While you're in the Golden area, call into to one of the world's most beautiful natural amphitheaters, Red Rocks. Go for a run with locals, or time your visit to take in a show. Many of the worlds great artists, from the Beatles to U2 have performed here under the blood red rocks. If all that sightseeing and history builds up a thirst, you're in luck. The area around Denver is known as the Beer Triangle. Take a tour of the Coors Brewery, before exploring the regions dozens of brewpubs and microbreweries. Denver is surrounded by places of incredible beauty. Just over an hours drive south are the ancient sandstone formations that have been attracting travelers and dreamers for thousands of years the Garden of the Gods. Nearby, is the pretty town of Manitou Springs. From here you can hike, catch the cog railway, or drive to Pikes Peak ~ weather permitting! This is where Colorado's real high country begins. Try your hand at prospecting, keep an eye out for the legendary Bigfoot, or just soak up the views from 14 000 feet. When the sun starts to drop, it's time to head back to Denver. Warm up by the fire, then make tracks to the Buckhorn Exchange, a Denver institution spanning three centuries. Order up a rattlesnake dip, an alligator tail, or an elk steak. But don't miss the house specialty, Rocky Mountain Oysters, mmmmmm.... The Rockies loom large over Denver, turn any street corner and there they are. Maybe that's why folks here are so relaxed; living this close to nature's majesty has a knack of keeping things in perspective. So, if you've got a hankering for best of big city comforts and clear mountain air ~ there's a warm, wild, welcome, waiting for you, in Denver.



Civic Center is located in central Denver just south of the Central Business District. The park is located at the intersection of Colfax Avenue and Broadway, perhaps the best-known and most important streets in Denver. The park borders are defined as Bannock Street on the west, Lincoln Street on the east, Colfax Avenue on the north, and 14th Avenue on the south. The institutions surrounding the civic center are generally thought of as part of the Civic Center area, and future plans for the civic center would extend the area further west all the way to Speer Boulevard.

Civic Center is also a neighborhood defined by the Denver city government, but is probably identified in the minds of Denverites as the "Golden Triangle." The borders of this neighborhood are Speer Boulevard on the west and south, Broadway on the east, and Colfax Avenue on the north.


This picture of the City and County Building taken around 1941 shows how the park has changed over the years.
This picture of the City and County Building taken around 1941 shows how the park has changed over the years.
Denver City Hall lit up with Christmas lights, 1955.
Denver City Hall lit up with Christmas lights, 1955.

Civic Center was an idea that originated with former Denver mayor Robert W. Speer. In 1904, Speer proposed a series of civic improvements based on the City Beautiful Ideas shown to him at the 1893 World Columbian Exposition in Chicago.

Speer hired Charles Mulford Robinson among others to develop plans for the area. Robinson proposed extending 16th Street to the Colorado State Capitol and to group other municipal buildings around a central park area. However, the plan was defeated in a 1907 election.

Undaunted, Speer gathered business leaders who brought in new ideas for the Civic Center including the creation of an east-west axial between the Colorado State Capitol, and swinging the north and south borders of the park into the city grid system.

These plans were stalled when in 1912, Speer was replaced as mayor. The new mayor brought in Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr. who was developing plans for Denver's mountain parks. His ideas include an informal grove of trees on the eastern edge of the park, and a lighted concert area.

When Speer was reelected in 1916, he re-pursued his ideas about the Civic Center, hiring Chicago planner and architect Edward H. Bennett, a protégé of Daniel Burnham. Bennett combined the ideas of all of the previous plans, adding the Greek amphitheater, the Colonnade, the seal pond, and the realignment of Colfax Avenue and 14th Ave., around the park. The park officially opened in 1919.


Civic Center and Colorado State Capitol from the Denver Art Museum.
Civic Center and Colorado State Capitol from the Denver Art Museum.

Civic Center has long been the government, arts, history, and learning nexus of both the state of Colorado and the Denver Metropolitan Area. Among the institutions in the Civic Center are Denver Art Museum, and the Denver Public Library's Central Library along the parks south side, the Colorado State Capitol and the City and County Building of Denver along the east and west axis of the park, the Wellington E. Webb Municipal Office Building on the park's north side, and the History Colorado Museum and the Colorado State Judicial Building towards the southeast of the park. The Denver Mint lies immediately west of the Civic Center Park across the street from the City and County Building.

The future

Civic Center has issues related with crime and poverty.[citation needed] There continues to be concerns expressed[who?] over keeping the park drug-free and housing the homeless.

In 2003 Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper began an initiative to reduce the homeless population with a program that included the first "Ten year plan to end homeless" in the United States. A crackdown on drug-dealing and crime in the area has also been started.[when?]

City and County officials have proposed changes to make the area more accessible to the downtown population in the north and the museums towards the south. Some of these changes include adding newer pedestrian crossings, bus areas and kiosks. One proposal would put Colfax Avenue underground with a pedestrian plaza on top of the former street.[citation needed]

The area has seen a lot of new civic development, including the Denver Newspaper Agency (northeast of the park), the home of The Denver Post. Voters in 2004 approved a new Denver Justice Center, two blocks away from Civic Center Park. These new buildings will change the dynamic of the area with some in The Colorado Office of Architecture and Historic Preservation[1] worrying that the architecture of the two buildings, especially the Justice Center, (which will have the city jail) could disrupt the historic design of the park. Denver hopes to alleviate these concerns by incorporating the buildings into future Civic Center planning.


Civic Center is known throughout the state as the rendezvous for the largest and most important cultural and civic events. Being at the center of the state and local government institutions, Civic Center has become the place for political statement for various groups and individuals representing a variety of causes. It was Civic Center where the public held a vigil for the victims of Columbine High School massacre, and 9/11. Former presidential candidate and Denver native John Kerry made a 2004 campaign stop at Civic Center, and 2008 Democratic nominee Barack Obama gave a speech there on October 26, 2008 to more than 120,000 supporters.

Civic Center Park. View from Bannock St.
Civic Center Park. View from Bannock St.

Civic Center is also the location for many annual events. These include:

  • January - The City and County Building has a Christmas lights display up until the National Western Stock Show ends in mid January.
  • March – Civic Center is at the end of one of the longest St. Patrick's Day parades in the nation.
  • April - Mile High 420 Festival an annual pro-cannabis rally/ cannabis culture gathering is held in Civic Center every year on April 20, otherwise known as 420.
  • May - Denver has a large Cinco de Mayo festival, held at Civic Center.
  • June - Civic Center is host to the People's Fair, a bohemian festival with various music, art, political booths, and other happenings; PrideFest, the annual gay pride festival is held at Civic Center, which is also the endpoint of the parade.
  • Summer - There are various theatre and music events held throughout the summer at the Greek amphitheater.
  • Summer - Each Wednesday night, the Denver Cruiser Ride stops at the Greek amphitheater, which riders refer to as the "Circle of Death."
  • September - A Taste of Colorado is a food and music festival held during Labor Day weekend at the park.
  • October - The park is the end point for a Columbus Day parade that often brings protests from American Indian groups.
  • December - The Parade of Lights ends at the City and County Building which has holiday lights from the beginning of the parade until the National Western Stock Show.
  • In 1990 and 1991, the Civic Center was the location of the CART Grand Prix of Denver.
Civic Center from the Colorado State Capitol.
Civic Center from the Colorado State Capitol.

See also


  1. ^ "Historic Preservation in Colorado". State of Colorado. Retrieved 2012-11-21.

External links

This page was last edited on 18 July 2018, at 14:15
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