How Wash Park Came To Be

Welcome to our Blog! This is our first post of many, focused primarily on Real Estate with a sprinkle of Lifestyle thrown in for good measure. We could not think of a better way to start than with a brief history lesson about Washington Park, better known to locals as Wash Park. Our offices have been located just a few blocks adjacent to the park for 4 years now and we love being part of this dynamic community.

The park was developed originally during the early 1890s to 1900s and took shape around an early irrigation project meant to make water more accessible. The project began in 1865 when a man by the name of John Smith was hired by the city of Denver to build the 24 mile ditch (Smith’s Ditch or the Big Ditch). The project took him two years to complete and was the first major irrigation canal in Denver; the hundreds of lateral canals that branched off it enabled settlement and farming away from the City’s rivers.

Shortly after developing the Big Ditch, Smith noticed a natural depression on his land that the ditch happened to pass through. After coming to this realization, he took the opportunity to create a lake, now known as Smith Lake, which he used as a reservoir to source ice out of in the winter time. In 1875 the City of Denver paid $60,000 to buy Smith’s Ditch, which became known as City Ditch, and also started to lease Smith Lake, which the city later purchased around 1900.

Wash Park started to become a reality at the end of the 1890s. In 1899 it was named Washington Park in honor of the 100th anniversary of George Washington’s death. The city’s landscape architect at the time was a man named Reinhard Schuetze and he drew up the plan for the park. Over the next few years, John B. Lang was hired as the parks first superintendent and serious landscaping work began.

The basic plan for the park called for two lakes with a large central meadow between them. The park would also feature a network of curving roads encircling the two lakes and the meadow, with a tree-lined perimeter separating the park from surrounding neighborhoods.

The park’s northern lake, Smith Lake, was already in place after purchasing it from John Smith years earlier. While the Great Meadow, the largest meadow in the Denver parks system, was built from 1901 to 1907. The southern lake was added in 1906 and was named Grasmere Lake after a village and lake associated with the poet William Wordsworth.

Today’s Wash Park

A few modern structures were added to Washington Park in the late 20th century. In 1970 the Washington Park Recreation Center was built at the north end of the Great Meadow and renovated in 1992. In 1974 Denver Fire Department Station 21 was added to the park’s far northeastern corner, near the Lily Pond.

After a long period of neglect in the 1960s and 1970s, the park was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1986 and began it’s journey to what we now see and enjoy.

Washington Park’s section of the City Ditch is now one of the only parts of the ditch that has not been enclosed in concrete, allowing people to see the city’s first irrigation canal in its original open condition. The natural flow to the ditch was cut off by the Transportation Expansion project of I-25 in the early 2000s. The water that flows through the park now comes from a Denver Water recycling plant.

Wash Park is not only a favorite of Denverites for outdoor recreation it is also one of the most sought after places to live in the Denver Metro Area. With tons of historic homes mixed in with modern upscale homes, Wash Park offers a wide variety of choices and character.

If you would like to know more about living or working in or near Wash Park please reach out to us. We are always excited to share what we know about this fabulous place.

A big thanks to: Encylopdia Staff