As I said in the previous post, we went to Denver to visit my parents for the holidays. I grew up in Denver but it changed a lot since I left home. Denver has a lot of nicknames, Mile High City, Queen of the Prairies, Queen of the West, Gateway to the Rockies and of course Bronco-Ville. In the summer of 1858, a small group of prospectors from Georgia crossed the great plains of the Colorado Territory and made a region-changing discovery at the base of the Rocky Mountains…gold. And although not much of the precious metal was found, the mere whisper of the word was enough to start a veritable stampede into the region. After all, the California Gold Rush had occurred just nine years earlier.
The gold miners soon moved into the mountains into towns like Georgetown, Central City and Silver Plume. After a while the city of Denver grew up around the South Platte River due to the availability of water and a mild climate. Even today, downtown Denver is close to the redeveloped Confluence Park, where Cherry Creek runs into the South Platte.
I had to include this fantastic HD photo from Thad Roan of the bridge at Confluence Park.
My dad and I used to go fishing in the South Platte and this cut-throat native trout shows the fish are still in there. The fishing is a lot better in the mountains though.
Downtown Denver used to be a rough neighborhood but an aggressive redevelopment program has brought new shops and restaurants. That pretty pointed tower in the middle is the D&F Tower (Daniels & Fisher), one of 16th Street’s most distinctive buildings. When it was completed in 1910, this was the highest building west of the Mississippi River. It is modeled after The Campanile (St. Mark’s Bell Tower) at the Piazza San Marco in Venice and its four clocks (one for each side with bells) are a whopping 16 feet high. So if you’re caught without a watch, just look up. The Tower was built to house one of Denver's largest early 19th century department stores. Today, the basement of the D&F Tower has been renovated into Lannie’s Clocktower Cabaret, an entertainment venue.
An example of the redevelopment efforts is the amusingly named Bubba Gump Shrimp Company.
Part of the redevelopment includes a new performing arts complex. Between the theatres of the Denver Performing Arts Complex, Speer Boulevard and Cherry Creek is Sculpture Park. The Sculpture Park is home to the landmark sculpture by Jonathan Borofsky: Dancers. “Let's Dance” was composed, performed and recorded by Jonathan Borofsky and Samuel Conlogue at Infusion Studios in Portland, Maine. It was produced by Jonathan Borofsky to accompany his sculpture, “Dancers”. (Click here to listen) It is a 9-minute song for voice and instruments – looped for continuous play from five speakers surrounding the 60-foot sculpture located in front of the Performing Arts Center in Denver, Colorado.
Denver’s Public Art Program was established in 1988 as an Executive Order under Mayor Federico Peña. The order, enacted into Ordinance by Mayor Wellington E. Webb, directs that 1% of any capital improvement project over $1 million undertaken by the City be set aside for the inclusion of art in the design and construction of these projects. Over the past 20 years, the City has installed over 150 works of art under this program. These works, along with historic and donated works of art, make up the City’s Public Art Collection.
Convention Centers are supposed to be bland, sterile corporate spaces. But the Colorado Convention Center bucks that trend in a variety of ways. Case in point: “I See What You Mean,” AKA the giant blue bear sculpture peeking into the center’s lobby. The 40-foot high bear, which injects a welcome sense of fun and playfulness into the convention center experience, is the creation of local artist Lawrence Argent. It was installed just a few years ago in 2005, but has quickly become a bona fide Mile High icon.
Argent says; “The architecture of [the convention center] is such a dominant presence in the location I thought it best to place a work that did not conflict with the essences of its design or stature, and which would embrace its uniqueness of form and the relationship to the space it occupies. Scale therefore, became an extremely important consideration. I also wanted to bring the mountains (the assumed idea of Colorado) down to Denver to prompt visitors' awareness of the uniqueness of their location.”
We stayed across the street at the Hyatt Regency, a nice hotel with a good bar, restaurant, 24 hour gift shop and a 27th floor observation bar. Trust me when I say that in Denver these are very rare commodities in a hotel.
It snowed on Christmas Eve, not much but enough to make a white blanket on Christmas morning. We were busy with family on this visit, so this is not a long post. We go at least once a year, so I will try to do better next time. I'll close with some photos of Denver from the observation lounge of the hotel.
A view of the Bronco's “Sports Authority” stadium and to the right, the roller coaster of Elitch Gardens. Elitch Gardens is an amusement park that moved to its current location a few years ago. Even I went there as a kid, in the old location. The South Platte river runs right in front of the stadium. The Razorback to the left and Table Top Mountain to the right are shown behind the city with Golden, Colorado in the valley between them.
That lake behind the stadium is Sloan's Lake, I was born there, in the red brick hospital seen above across the lake, St Anthony.
I took these pictures a few years ago, during the summer. My grandparents lived in Edgewater and my grandfather used to take me here to feed the ducks. I see the ducks are still floating around. It used to freeze over in the winter and there was an icehouse on the shores which would be filled with ice all summer (this was in the 1950's before refrigerators). My grandparents had an actual “ice-box” which was supplied from the icehouse on this lake. Things changed and today the lake rarely freezes over. It remains a beautiful place and a desirable place to live.
In a previous post we went up Bear Creek Canyon to Evergreen, the canyon is marked on the picture above.
And finally a night picture of Denver toward the Stadium, the bright line of cars to the left is is Colfax Boulevard. That's all for now, more in the future.