Opportunities for outdoor recreation, cultural enrichment, gainful employment, or just hanging out at a favorite corner pub or coffee house abound in City Park, one of Denver’s more diverse neighborhoods, where an eclectic mix of young and old, blue collar types, professionals, students and teachers, singles and families, and myriad ethnicities intermingle to the betterment of all.
Perhaps nothing defines this fascinating melting pot community more than the Annual City Park Festival of the Arts held in May at the historic Pavilion on Ferril Lake. Said by locals to express the “art and soul” of the neighborhood, the festival draws more than 150 artists and craftspeople in an “incredible display of talent and locally produced fine art and crafts, at once-a-year prices.”
Two stages offer a thrilling non-stop spectacular of music (from Rock to Salsa, Hip Hop to Swing), dance, martial arts, poetry slams, and performance art. Exhibitors at the most recent festival included several galleries from the Santa Fe Arts District.
Settlement of City Park began early, spurred by the inauguration (in 1874) of streetcar service on diagonally oriented Park Avenue. Other lines soon followed between 13th and 34th Avenues, further accelerating development. Tourists often camped and square danced in City Park before it was closed to overnight visitors after the onset of the Great Depression.
City Park, at 317 acres, the largest of Denver’s parks, underwent numerous improvements during the halcyon days of Mayor Speer’s City Beautiful program. Ferril Lake was dredged and graced with an illuminated fountain, a buggy-racing track platted, the Neoclassical Museum of Natural History built, and numerous cottonwoods planted by schoolchildren. By 1904, the Denver Zoo had been established.
In addition to classic bungalows, Denver Squares, and contemporary condos and townhomes, City Park West boasts a treasure trove of historic homes dating from the heady Silver Boom days (1880 to 1893). Notables include the handsome Richardsonian Romanesque Castle Marne Bed and Breakfast, fashioned from rusticated rhyolite trimmed with limestone, and the three-story Beaux-Arts mansion (the Smith House), at the Corner of 18th Avenue and York Street. Close by, the Denver Museum of Miniatures, Dolls, and Toys occupies a charming Dutch Colonial home done in brick with a full-length front porch supported by paired columns.
City Park offers an abundance of employment opportunities within a five-minute radius by car and within easy walking distance for those who prefer to live New York style and leave their vehicles at home.
The complex of hospitals near 18th and Franklin: Saint Joseph’s, Children’s Hospital, Presbyterian-Saint Luke’s, Kaiser Permanente, along with nearby medical suppliers, doctor’s offices, and alternative-health-care facilities, employ nearly 10,000 workers. A few blocks farther west is Denver’s central business district, municipal and state office buildings, and the cultural center anchored by the Central Library, Denver Art Museum, and Colorado Historical Museum.
“City Park has the look and feel of a traditional family neighborhood,” says one long-time resident. “Neighbors really get to know one another on walks and while visiting from their front porches. Meanwhile, you’re close to downtown and great shopping at Cherry Creek. The classic older homes lend a certain grandeur to the community, while the genuine period craftsmanship is a wonder to behold.”