Welcome to Washington Park
People began to settle around the fringes of a buffalo wallow near the north end of Washington Park in the 1860s. South Denver as it came to be called was annexed by Denver in the 1890s and construction on the park, began in 1899.
The founding of the University of Denver that same year and the arrival of street car lines in 1901, coupled with the desire of some to escape the confines of downtown, fueled growth in the area for the next 50 years.
Designed by Reinhardt Schuetze, Washington Park was landscaped using native trees and shrubs hauled from the mountains. Schuetze’s design, still largely intact, transformed the mud flats into Smith Lake and a lily pond. Grasmere Lake, at the park’s south end, was dug in 1907.
Connecting the two lakes is the only remaining above-ground leg of the “City Ditch,” which began carrying water from the South Platte to a very thirsty Capitol Hill, in 1867.
On the shore of Smith Lake, the striking Boating Pavilion, designed by prolific Denver architect Jules Jacques Benedict in 1913, has become a neighborhood icon and a favorite subject for local artists.
Another popular landmark, the cottage of Denver poet Eugene Field, an early resident of the neighborhood, now stands near the park’s northwest corner and serves as offices for Park People, a non-profit preservation group. Mayor Speer commissioned the nearby statue of Wynken, Blynken, and Nod in homage to Field’s famous poem “Dutch Lullaby.”
Contributing to the park’s exceptional beauty are its magnificent fall foliage and dozens of spectacular flower gardens sewn with more than 60 varieties of radiant annuals. One garden is an exact replica of Martha Washington’s at Mt. Vernon.
Charming retail enclaves such as Bonnie Brae and Old South Gaylord together with excellent access to Cherry Creek Mall and bustling area commercial centers have made Washington Park one of the most coveted urban neighborhoods in Denver.
Classic bungalows, Denver Squares, and a colorful array of handsome Victorian-Era homes including Queen Anne’s girdle the park itself, putting every resident between Lincoln Street and University within an easy walking of its ample amenities.
A haven for cyclists, walkers, and joggers, Washington Park also hosts soccer leagues, volleyball tournaments, and flag football on its lush playing fields. The home courts of the Washington Park Tennis club lie just south of Grasmere Lake and the recreation center, one of the busiest in the city, offers classes and programs for all ages.
Throughout the year, a seemingly endless series fitness events such as the ever popular Thanksgiving Turkey Trot and the spring Furry Scurry draw enthusiastic participants from all over the city.
Washington Park is truly the heart and soul of this wonderfully scenic and cohesive neighborhood where all are welcome to experience the urban outdoors at its absolute best.