The Congress Park neighborhood, like the rest of early Denver real estate, was once a barren, tree less space. Wind blown and desolate, the area did not experience development until the early 1900's.
Congress Park was part of the original 160 acres granted to Denver by the Federal government to provide a proper resting place for the city's mortal citizenry. After experiencing irrigation issues, the City Cemetery fell into disrepair and the land was redesignated as park land. The sitting Congress who bestowed the new parkland demanded that the park be named "Congress Park". However, the first park created upon the new grounds would not be named Congress Park, but rather Cheesman Park.
The Congress Park that Denver residents identify with is actually just east of Cheesman Park, bordering York Street across from the Botanic Gardens. This area was known as Cemetery Hill and was home of the the Hebrew section of the City Cemetery. The local Pest House, a hospital for the contagiously ill, was also present until it was relocated in 1885. By 1896, the Hebrew community had abandoned their previous burial ground and by 1923, all of the bodies were removed and the land sold back to the city.
This now valuable Denver real estate also held another vital purpose for the survival of Denver. Three huge reservoirs were dug in the newly renamed Capitol Hill Clean Water Reservoir in Congress Park. The first was dug in 1887 and the use of wooden pipes brought water from Cherry Creek to Cemetery Hill, thereby supplying water to Capitol Hill. This first attempt posed several problems. The reservoirs were overwhelmed with algae and they attempted several different roofing options to protect the water and the park goers. The new Denver home owners residing in the area soon sued the city and required that they do something to beautify the area. The result is the current Congress Park.
Two additional reservoirs were dug in 1907 and 1954, however the water was now supplied by the South Platte River. The area above these reservoirs is now the lower soccer fields of Congress Park. You may notice that dogs are not allowed in this area, for obvious reasons.
Over the last century, Congress Park has seen many changes. The old coal-fired pump house was torn down in 1927, yet the smokestack remains. In 1939, the small topographical rise in the park was the perfect location for Denver's police radio tower and the fireman chose the hill for their alarm system in 1949. The park has been used to house nurseries for Denver's botanic aspirations and was also the city's largest Victory garden during World War II. In the 1969, a television station was also installed.
Denver's Congress Park
Copyright © 2013 Vintage Homes of Denver
Real Estate Website Design by High Elevation