One of Denver’s newest parks hugs the South Platte River near Denver’s birthplace and, quite appropriately, the site of the young city’s first amusement park. Commons Park runs along the east side of the river, just north of its confluence with the Cherry Creek. Little Raven, 15th Street and 19th Street border the park.
The design for this 20 acre park celebrates both Denver’s past and present. It is a complex park with three broad themes. The first is Denver’s natural past: the river and prairie themselves. The parks’ west edge along the South Platte reflects the river’s original character, its native grasses and trees, and the ebb and flow of its periodic flooding. Close to 40% of the park is covered by native plants, a piece of reconstructed lush “sand prairie” close to what would have existed here originally.
In contrast, the east side of Commons Park turns towards the highly urban character of downtown Denver. The promenade along Little Raven Street is a tree lined walkway dotted with many seating areas and entries, to connect the park to downtown Denver and the parks’ future neighbor, the Commons Neighborhood.
The third theme is Denver’s rich social past. The heart of the park expresses the best of Denver’s historical park planning, although with a contemporary eye and material. Denver’s parks were intended to celebrate views, water, greenery, art, and movement and Commons Park does that in dramatic ways. They capture spectacular views of downtown, the river, and the mountain peaks.
Planning and building the park has taken monumental cooperation between the various partners, Denver Parks and Recreation, the Mayor’s South Platte River Initiative, Public Works, Urban Drainage an Flood Control, and others. Great Outdoor Colorado Legacy grants and financial support from the Central Platte Valley Metropolitan District enabled the project to proceed.