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January 2015 • Online Edition

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Doors Open Denver: The City Beautiful | Print |  E-mail

by Andrea Wulf
Historic Denver, Inc.

Doors Open Denver 2013 will be held the weekend of April 13 & 14, with sites welcoming visits at varying times, both days – check doorsopendenver.org for specifics and a wealth of other details.

This FREE, two-day event celebrating architecture and design welcomes guests inside 66 sites, illuminating and illustrating its theme, The City Beautiful: Then and Now.

Doors Open Denver provides over 100 expert guided tours, the Denver Box City for Kids, a Focus on Architecture photography competition, and rides on the Platte Valley Trolley. Visit Event Headquarters at the McNichols Building, 144 W. Colfax Ave., from 7:30a.m.-4p.m. both days, to register for expert tours, obtain complete location maps for self-guided tours, and get questions answered.

Of special interest this year: guided bike rides and tours of Denver Parks & Parkways, and many venerable – even iconic – sites such as the Denver Dry Building, Hogle-Allison Motors/Colorado Ballet Building, Washington Park Dos Chappell Bath House, and the Civilian Conservation Corps Camp at Morrison; all are wonderful to wander at a leisurely pace during self-guided tours.

Additionally, all four directional Denver public high schools – East, West, North and South – which exemplify The City Beautiful with their location on prominent sites, setting adjacent to a park, and commanding views will be open to the public.

The City Beautiful movement was deeply influenced by European Beaux-Arts architecture and the 1893 Chicago World’s Columbian Exposition, which marked the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’ arrival in the New World in an elaborate and extravagant manner.

Characterized by parks, fountains, public statuary, grand boulevards, handsome civic centers, prominent civic buildings and comprehensive planning, The City Beautiful movement was both aesthetic and based on the belief that a quality public and civic realm was key to the public health of the citizenry and the financial stability and well-being of the community.

A little more than 100 years ago, civic leaders aided by Mayor Robert Speer took steps to adapt principles of The City Beautiful movement to distinguish Denver from other dusty, poorly organized frontier towns. Mayor Speer’s master plan had three phases: the development of Civic Center, the city’s extensive Parks & Parkways system as settings for schools, libraries and residences, and the Mountain Parks.

Today, the Denver community continues to value quality architecture that contributes to civic space, relates to the natural environment and improves quality of life – still revealing the possibility of social beauty, utility and harmony.

For more information, including a complete listing of sites and expert tours, and details of Box City for Kids, lectures and VIP events, visit the website: doorsopendenver.org. To volunteer to help at any time throughout the weekend, contact Carol Hiller, 303-282-5073, or visit the website, and click on “FAQ”.

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