Skyline Park

Arapahoe Street from 15th to 18th Sts
Denver, CO

Submitted by: John Temple

Skyline runs for three blocks through the heart of downtown Denver, but it is a place without a heart.

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Why It Doesn't Work

Skyline is a park with no people, running along a street with no sidewalk. It's the site of the Buskerfest and the Shakespeare Festival, but it's also a place of concrete and hard-packed dirt, leaves and empty bottles. A sign tells me that it is open for my "enjoyment" from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. A plaque tells me that in 1967 voters elected to renew a blighted area and completed the project in 1973.

The park's hard path cuts through concrete walls and ledges, a brutal canyon suggestive of Colorado's rugged mountains. Where does it go? Nowhere. From a parking lot to a street. What did I see? A homeless man sleeping on a ledge in the sun. An overflowing garbage can. Cigarette butts and chipped wooden benches. Black, cold glass walls.

The more time I spent there, the more I began to notice the cliffs, outcroppings and walls of the surrounding buildings. The park is forlorn. But the buildings around it are even worse. They're grim. If you had the chance to build a house along a mountain stream, you'd think you'd treat it with respect. Might even put on a porch overlooking the rippling water. Well, I promise you respect isn't in the vocabulary of most of the buildings along Skyline Park.

Denver is a friendly town. Skyline Park is anything but. Walls block Arapahoe Street to keep out the traffic noise. The park turned its back on the street, turning it into a dreary ribbon of traffic. The park is cut off from the city. That seems to be the whole idea.

Skyline was a bold vision. But it was flawed. We should have the courage to start over. And to learn from our mistakes. In 2001, the city is again debating what to do, this time with the blighted area the park has become.

What Puts Skyline Park in the Hall of Shame?

The more time I spent there, the more I began to notice the cliffs, outcroppings and walls of the surrounding buildings. The park is forlorn. But the buildings around it are even worse. They're grim. If you had the chance to build a house along a mountain stream, you'd think you'd treat it with respect. Might even put on a porch overlooking the rippling water. Well, I promise you respect isn't in the vocabulary of most of the buildings along Skyline Park. , I walked the park's hard path, cut through concrete walls and ledges, a brutal canyon suggestive of Colorado's rugged mountains. The sole path doesn't take people anywhere they want to go; the park turns its back on Arapahoe Street - and the city.

Not much of either here: chains, walls, forbidding signs, homeless people or solitary souls, overflowing garbage cans, black, cold glass walls.

Big signs outlaw climing on any structure. A scattering of solitary souls eat or reading alone.

The city let the buildings reject the park. And the public does the same. Even the people who do walk through it tend to hug the edges.

History & Background

The 3-block-long, 100-foot-wide, 3.2-acre park was first designed by Lawrence Halprin. A revitalization project is slated to restore the physical deterioration of the park itself and link it to Denver's 16th Street Mall, which bisects the park.

Contact Info:

Denver Parks & Recreation; Downtown Denver Partnership

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