Joe Hildebrand
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Washington Park

Washington Park

The Washington Park neighborhood is bounded on the west by Downing Street, on the north by Virginia Avenue, on the east by Franklin Street and on the south by Louisiana Avenue. The majority of Washington Park homes were built between 1900-1940 although development continues today! Washington Park homes come in a wide variety of architectural styles including English Tudors, Craftsman Bungalows, Foursquares, Prarie houses, Denver Squares and more! Today’s development is predominantly new construction by scraping old homes or condominium conversions.

The neighborhood generally referred to as "Wash Park" is often broken down into eastern and western sides: not only do both have their own neighborhood organizations and quite-different historical trajectories (resulting in different zoning), but since 1972 official city statistics have tracked Washington Park West as separate from the easterly "Washington Park."

While the Washington Park neighborhood began development soon after the founding of Denver, the neighborhood can trace its roots back to the Town of South Denver. Financial difficulties befell the new town with the Silver bust in the late 1890’s and annexation into Denver proper soon followed.

Development in the area hastened with the creation of the park in 1899. Mayor Thomas McMurray found Smith’s lake to be ideal location for the new park. McMurray purchased as much land as he could and then began legal proceedings to condemn additional property bringing the park to a total of 161 acres. Washington Park was initially designed by the German landscape architect Reinhard Schuetze between 1899 and 1908. His design remains fairly intact and included Smith and Grasmere lakes, and the Lily Pond, all fed with a city ditch that Shuetze had edged with Russian willows and other trees. Other pieces of his design remain intact and include the large meadow edged with a grove of trees to the south of Smith Lake, and the carriage-ways that meander through the park. Later landscape architects, such as Saco Rienk DeBoer and Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr. have added their own contributions to the park, adding the elegant boat house, an evergreen grove on the north side of the park and other additions.

Washington Park has always been a very popular urban neighborhood because of its central location, its closeness to the park, and its access to several commercial business enclaves including the shops at Gaylord, Bonnie Brae, and Cherry Creek. The flower gardens feature over 62 varieties of annuals. Regardless of the weather, you will always find someone taking advantage of all the park has to offer making Washington Park the most popular and beloved park in Denver.

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