Civic Center Park is at the heart of Denver. It’s a large public park containing 25,000 ft² of flower beds. It also has monuments, a Greek amphitheater, a war memorial, and other statues.
Government buildings and museums surround the park. On the east side is the Colorado State Capitol building with it’s glimmering golden dome. On the west side is City and County Building. The south side features two museums, the Colorado History Museum and the Denver Art Museum.
Colorado State Capitol
The Colorado State Capitol is the most prominent building on the park. It was built in 1894 and uses real gold leaf for the dome. The building houses the offices of the governor of Colorado as well as the state legislature.
In front of the building is a monument dedicated to Colorado soldiers who fought in the Civil War.
The steps are also interesting. There are three different markers indicating Denver’s elevation. The 15th step is engraved “One Mile Above Sea Level”. However, in 1969 after a survey by Colorado State University students, the 18th step was later marked as one mile high.
Finally, in 2003, more modern methods were used to resurvey the elevation. In that case the 13th step was determined to be exactly a mile high. It is thought to be the most accurate measurement and a marker is placed there.
Free tours of the Colorado State Capitol are available They last about an hour and include trips up into the dome. They run from 10am to 3pm on days the building is open. The building was closed while we were there so we missed a chance at a tour.
City and County Building
The building opposite the capitol is the City and County Building. It was completed in 1932 and holds the offices of both the Denver city council and county as well as the courts.
Behind the City and County Building is the Denver Mint. It was built in 1897 and struck its first coins in 1906. It’s the largest producer of coins in the world. There are free tours of the mint from Monday through Thursday during the hours of 8am and 3:30pm. They last about 45 minutes. I was there on a Sunday so I wasn’t able to visit.
Denver Art Museum
On the south side of the park is the Denver Art Museum. The museum has a collection of nearly 70,000 pieces and is well-known for its Native American art. It consists of two buildings. The North Building (main collection) and the Hamilton Building (contemporary art collection). The North Building was designed by Gio Ponti and built in 1971 while the dramatic Hamilton Building opened in 2006.
The Denver Art Museum is open daily except Mondays. Adult admission as of 2016 was US$13 (US$10 for Colorado residents). Children under 18 are admitted free of charge. The first Saturday of every month is free for everyone.
History Colorado Center
Finally, the History Colorado Center is a couple blocks south of Civic Center Park on Broadway. It has exhibits on the various periods of Colorado history. It’s open daily and adult admission is US$10.
To be continued…
Note: My visit to Civic Center Park was definitely incomplete. I arrived during the Taste of Colorado festival on a Sunday afternoon and wasn’t able to visit any of the buildings or museums. I only got a chance to admire them from the outside amid the crowds of the festival. On my return trip to Denver, I will spend a day here to fully appreciate it.