City Park Urban Hiking Denver

Slaves, Squares, and Shakespeare

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Little did I know that by walking through Denver’s City Park and its accompanying neighborhood I would learn about slave cargo, Shakespeare’s elm and Denver Squares. Yet this week’s Denver neighborhood walk, a 2.8 mile amble, uncovered amazing tidbits that fascinated all of us. Come along as we urban hiked through City Park and its neighborhood to the south. The official City Park boundaries are rectangular, made up of E 23rd Ave to Colfax, York to Colorado.

The City’s Best View

Walking in City Park requires a stop at the top of the stairs just to the north of the Museum of Nature and Science to get what is arguably the best view of Denver, including Ferril Lake, the boat pavilion, the city skyline and the Rockies. In the summer at night, you can also add in the Prismatic water fountain of rainbow colors.

This Lake Is Mine

Be sure to give thanks to the lake’s namesake, Thomas Hornsby Ferril. Denver’s poet laureate penned a wonderful poem about the lake called “This Lake Is Mine.” From there, an amble through the park passes you by many of the sculptures and gardens of City Park. Before heading into the park though, be sure to stop at the information boards at the boat pavilion which give an overview of each feature of the park. Take a picture of the overview sign so you have it with you as you adventure along.

MLK Is a Must-See

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We stopped through Sopris Gardens and then headed to the Martin Luther King, Jr statue. It is the best ode to MLK I’ve ever seen, including statues of Ghandi, Sojourner Truth, Rosa Parks and Frederick Douglass. Be sure to take at least 20 minutes here to read the quotes and interact with the interpretative board to the west of the statues. Don’t miss the inlaid sculpture displaying the diagram of how slaves were ported in cargo ships on their way to America. It’s heart-stopping.

Hi to Denver’s First High

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Once you’ve had your fill of City Park’s treats, head down the east promenade entrance toward East High School, Denver’s first high school. Neal Cassady, among many other famous Denverites, went to school at East. Notice the great entrance gate to the park and its ode to mining and agriculture.

Colfax Surprises

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Walking along Colfax can overwhelm the senses. Known as the longest, continuous, urban street in the US, this busy center of town invites a curious and adventurous mind. Hardly can you find a big box store or large corporate entity, Colfax exists mostly due to its small, independent store fronts, bars, and restaurants. Be sure to stop by the Bluebird Theatre to check out its 1913 architecture.

Are You Square?

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You’ll want to head into the actual City Park neighborhood, particularly along Cook Street and onto E 16th Avenue. Rich along these few blocks are great examples of Denver Squares. These functional home types popped up after the silver bust. You’ll find several examples of Squares in this neighborhood, and as you work your way east, you’ll also be able to contrast them with bungalows.

Shakespeare Is Here

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As you make your way back to the park, be sure to stop at the corner of 17th and Colorado. Look for a giant elm tree. Known as Shakespeare’s Elm, the original switch that grew the tree came from Shakespeare’s grave at Stratford-on-Avon. When you see the elm, find the plaque at the trunk identifying this 1916 beauty.

Click here to see the route, map, and turn by turn directions.

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