Denver’s Civic Center
Mayor Robert Speer had a vision. He visited Europe and the 1893 Chicago Exhibition. His vision was to build a city that was “ an example, a standard, for other American municipalities.” Denver’s Civic Center was part of his vision for a world class city. Civic Center is Denver’s public space to use as it sees fit. From festivals, fairs, protests, celebrations and concerts it has filled the needs of a city. This series will explore its history, details and nuisances. Eventually I will develop the information into a walking tour. I will concentrate on architecture and the numerous brass plaques and monuments found in the area. The boundaries are fluid, numerous public buildings have been added to the original outline. I will explore the public spaces and buildings that the area provides.
My methods have been to find the history of a building through city directories, Sanborn insurance maps, books and Internet research. When I find a clue to a buildings story I pursue that course. There are large buildings and numerous plaques and statues in Civic Center. The details will provide the stories for the series. I have recollections from the late 1970’s of the area, and some photos. The area has grown and tried to maintain a common theme, civic service. As the area has grown private homes and businesses have been removed to provide space for green space or public buildings. Controversy, of course, is wrapped up with change. Land deals were as much of the original plans as they are now. Who doesn’t want to get a front row seat? Civic Center is lined with those in government, both city and state. It is also lined with museums and libraries, our measurement to future generations of our culture. The area has also been the center of transportation. Major streets border and divide the area. It allow access to the area and a way to travel through without slowing.
These are all pieces of our city. It is our Sunday best, our dress up clothes and our best in architecture and civility. We want to be judged by our Civic Center and we have tried to hire the best builders to permanently show off our city and state. Looking west from the Capitol steps we showcase Colorado’s natural landscape. The view from the state house takes advantage of the mountain views, something few cities can boast.
Sanborn maps of Civic Center
Comments welcomed, JOE S