Nationally-recognized landscape architects and community leaders praise Denver for its parks and parkways. Beginning in 1893 with the appointment of Reinhard Schuetze as the city’s landscape architect, Denver committed to developing a park system that is now considered to be exemplary. From simple beginnings-the one-block Curtis Park-the Department of Parks and Recreation has grown to include formal parks, such as Civic Center Park, neighborhood parks and playgrounds, mountain parks, historic parkways, and trails like the 10-mile South Platte River Greenway.
Documented in the collection are projects created by the city’s celebrated planners, including Reinhard Schuetze, Charles Mulford Robinson, George Kessler and the Olmsted Brothers.
The work of landscape architect Saco R. DeBoer is represented in the Parks records as well as in his private papers, which the Library received in 1967 and 1974. DeBoer worked in various capacities for the city from 1910 until 1958. His papers evidence the scope of his career, including a city planning and landscape architecture business that carried him beyond Denver’s borders.
During the early years of Mayor Robert Walter Speer’s beautification initiatives, the Denver Parks Commission oversaw the expansion and development of the city’s parks. The Library retains the Denver Parks Commission’s papers, dating from 1897 to 1916.
Other collections pertaining to Denver’s parks include architect Burnham Hoyt’s records, with original designs for Red Rocks Amphitheater; architectural drawings by Fisher and Fisher for the Voorhies Memorial in Civic Center Park; George Cranmer’s scrapbook (1944 to 1964) and a taped interview (1972); landscape architect George A. Carlson’s papers (1913-1978); Isaac J. Keator’s papers which focus on the Civic Center Extension Committee and the efforts to construct the City and County Building; and planting plans by the landscape design firm of McCrary, Culley, and Carhart for many of Denver’s parks. The Park People and Capitol Hill United Neighborhoods, community support organizations, placed their papers with the Library as well.
Denver Municipal Facts, a magazine published by the city from 1909 to 1931, covers all facets of the city’s development during much of the time of the City Beautiful Movement.
The reporting of park, parkway and recreation development is an important feature throughout its years of publication. In the July 1921 issue, a researcher can find a fold-out map entitled Denver Municipal Facts Map, Denver to Mt. Evans including Mountain Parks. Other maps in the department’s map collection include, for example, a 1909 Map of the City of Denver by George S. Clason that shows an expanding city with three large city parks-City Park, Cheesman Park and Washington Park. Other smaller parks are designated and identified. Another is Prather’s Aerial View of Denver Mountain Parks and Mt. Evans Region, truly a piece of art, yet highly informative for the tourist or day-traveler during the 1920s.
Over 500 photographs of Denver’s parks and mountain parks are included in the Library’s Western History Photography Collection. Images range from early views of golfers at Overland Park to the construction of Red Rocks Amphitheater to the gardens and zoo at City Park. To view these images or to place orders for reprints, visit the Western History Digital Image Catalog (formerly Photoswest).
The Denver Parks Collections were made possible through the generosity of the following:
A view of the combined shelter and water pump house at Lookout Mountain Park [between 1930 and 1950?].
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Updated: June 25, 2013