The Denver Park and Parkway System consists of over 400 acres of parks and more than 30 miles of developed parkways. The system represents the will, the effort, and the imagination of the first generation of Denver citizens, energetic civic leaders, and creative designers.
Denver’s parks and parkways reflect various styles of landscape design. They are the work of well-known landscape architects and city planners such as: S.R. DeBoer, George E. Kessler, Charles Mulford Robinson, Reinhard Schuetze, and the Olmsted brothers. Located throughout the city, the parks and parkways are accessible to all and play a central role in the life of the entire area. (Cover documentation accepted by National Register in 1986.)
Berkeley Lake Park provides an attractively forested and lawned setting. It is a fine example of the early design and use of parks for public recreation programs (including swimming, horseshoes, tennis, etc.), for family picnics, for informal field games, and for public facilities (including a major senior and recreation center and a branch of the Denver Public Library).
Vincent Scully, former Yale University art historian, described the 1898 Cheesman Park as one of the finest urban spaces in America. The park is the masterpiece of Denver’s turn-of-the-century landscape architect, Reinhard Schuetze.
Designed in 1912, the esplanade serves as a grand entry to Cheesman Park and is Saco R. DeBoer’s masterpiece and perhaps the most sophisticated piece of landscape design in the Denver park and parkway system.
The 1.4-mile parkway evidences the styles of Olmsted and DeBoer, with the Olmsted portion from Williams St. to Milwaukee St. being formal and characterized by symmetrical plantings of specimen trees and formal gardens in the intervening sun spots.
The 1.5-mile East 17th Avenue Parkway is Denver’s finest early 20th century parkway. The parkway is extraordinarily well preserved and contains a wide variety of plant materials initially specified in the planting plan by the nationally renowned Olmsted Brothers.
Like Montclair Park, Highland is a good example of a small multi-use park laid out in the English landscape tradition. The plantings incorporate a sophisticated mix of plant material, including a few plains cottonwoods planted as street trees in the early 1900s.
This classic two-mile example of a parkway is clearly defined by four rows of street trees (a canopy of American Elms in this case) and a median planted with fine specimen plant material, varied in shape and scale, including local Rocky Mountain species such as the Colorado Blue Spruce.
This fine example of a small turn-of-the-century neighborhood block park combines passive space, designed in the English landscape tradition, with active facilities (including tennis courts, horseshoe courts, and a community center), and design features such as the perimeter street trees, which integrate the park into the design of the surrounding residential neighborhood.
First laid out in 1892, 1.5-mile Montview Boulevard is a straightforward yet effective design, evidence of the fact that 19th century urban planning in Denver responded to the proposition that the new streetcar suburbs, like Park Hill, should be served and would be enhanced by tree-lined and city-maintained motorways.
George Kessler and Saco R. DeBoer are credited with the design of the half-mile parkway executed between 1909 and 1913. The half-mile South Marion and Downing Street Parkways serve as a connection between the Speer Boulevard/Cherry Creek corridor and Washington Park.
This key 1.1-mile diagonal transit way, designed by the nationally-known planner George Kessler, symbolizes and commemorates, in planning, design, construction, embellishment, and planting, the City Beautiful movement in Denver. It also conveys the political leadership and citizen support which made the Denver park and parkway system the city’s historic design legacy.
University Boulevard serves the south Denver neighborhoods much as Montview Boulevard serves the east Denver neighborhoods. The 1.5-mile route was planted in sections between 1908 and 1920 with a wide variety of typical Denver street trees, including American elm, silver maple, honey locust, green ash, and rock elm.
Reinhard Schuetze laid out this scenic park in the grand Victorian manner in 1889. It features two beautiful lakes; the largest meadow in the Denver park system; a remnant of the City Ditch (which was essential to the watering and hence the development of the park); a forested hill graded by the Olmsted Brothers and planted by DeBoer; romantic deciduous tree plantings; the largest formal summer flower beds in the Denver park and parkway system; and important architectural embellishments such as the 1913 Boat House on Smith’s Lake.
Planned under contract with the Olmsted Brothers, this half-mile parkway is unique in Denver and features a double row of American Elms (planted on alternate centers to increase the canopy) and colorful shrub plantings on either side of a single roadway.