The People Gather Here
The Civic Park Neighborhood together with its neighbor to the north, Central Business District, is about people. With 10,000 residents in the ‘hood and a giant People’s park bookended by government, there’s no denying the draw of these two neighborhoods in bringing people together to connect. Here’s my Civic Center urban hiking adventure, combined with Denver’s Central Business District.
From Motel to Metlo
On this week’s Denver urban hike, Walking Movement Leader Dawn Kirkwood lead the way through an architectural review of this amazing Civic Park landscape. We started at the Metlo (1111 Broadway), an urban re-use motel turned small business complex. Why “Metlo?” When the award-winning developer wanted to remodel the building, the City mandated he had to use the old signage…thus, he mixed up “motel” and out came “Metlo.”
It’s All about the Shapes
The boundaries of Civic Park, a triangle shape of Speer, Broadway and Colfax, call out what the neighbors have named as the “Golden Triangle,” although the city doesn’t officially recognize this nomenclature. But no matter what you call it, the area’s riches abound with the titanium-donated, Denver Art Museum, the downtown library, fabulous sculpture, and Civic Park. While walking, be sure to take time to read the many plaques and signs on your amble.
A Plaza for the People
Mayor Speer foresaw an area for the people to gather, and thus grew the Civic Park Plaza. Sandwiched between the Capitol and the Congress, the Plaza hosts parties, festivals, rallies, protests, and food trucks on Tuesdays and Thursdays. From the controversial Columbus sculpture to a subtly-lit Veteran’s Memorial, be sure to enjoy your time in the Plaza. Don’t miss Vorhees’ seals!
Pausing at Plumb Center
A stop in front of the Webb building requires a quick google map search. The gold plumb bob in the East Meets West sculpture is the spot where Denver officially shows on maps. Yet, a stop between post 1 and 10 at the American Indian artist, Edgar Heap of Birds, “Wheel” sculpture on the summer solstice might offer up an interesting surprise for you as well. A pause at the chained link artwork by Denver School of Arts’ students will enthrall you.
Central Business District Welcomes People Too
The boundaries of the Central Business District stretch over to Lawrence and up to 20th Street, making a somewhat rhombus shape. In this area, you’ll find 16th Street Mall, the business heartbeat of Denver, and additional historical relics. The Brown Palace requires that you stop for a spot of tea or a good cocktail while reading the signs and plaques within.
As you continue along the street, keep your eyes open for plaques and medallions inlaid within the sidewalks. You’ll even get a chance to understand the grid-to-grid cattywampus street system of Denver. Hint: Take the Auraria Neighborhood walk and learn why one city blended into the other in order for Denver to grow.
To see the narrative, route, and map of this route, continue below.
Start at Metlo, 1111 Broadway. Walk west to Acoma Street, noticing the first pubic school on the west side of the street, which is currently restored and vacant. Continue north through the museum grounds, noticing the titanium of the Denver Museum of Art, the library, and the various sculptures around the museums.
After admiring the Wheels exhibit, cross 14th into Civic Park. Spend some time acknowledging the various government buildings, the size of the Plaza and the artwork within the park. Walk through the park, then cross Colfax, taking a left.
Stop in front of the Webb Building and check your gps for Denver’s center. Continue along 14th Street, then make a left onto Tremont. Walk a half a block and enjoy the chained link artwork on the north side of the street. Return back to 14th Street, turning left.
Take a right on Welton. Continue to the major 5-way intersection at the Brown Palace, and find the plaque in the street discussing the grid system. Take a right on Broadway. Continue along Broadway until you return to the Metlo, passing in front of the Capitol (go up and see the 5280 step(s) on the staircase in front), the Colorado History Museum and the library.