Spanning from 6th Avenue to Colfax, and from York to Colorado, Congress Park is one of central Denver’s most popular neighborhoods. Anchored by Congress Park, located at 9th and Elizabeth Street, the neighborhood encompasses a wide variety of architecture from Bungalows to Victorians and grand homes along 7th Avenue, and from early Art Deco apartment buildings to 1960’s high rises.
The beginning of the actual Congress Park can be traced to the Prospect Hill Cemetery, which originally stood at the sites of both the current Cheesman and Congress Parks. At the time, the cemetery was divided into three different areas—one for Roman Catholic, one for Hebrew, and one for Jewish followers.
As Denver grew, and as the cemetery fell into disrepair, by the 1890’s, it became considered a real eyesore. The ownership of the land lay with the United States by virtue of an 1860 treaty with the Arapaho. After determining that the best use of the space would be as a park, the U.S. Congress was persuaded to allow the use of the land to be changed. Their reward was having the new park named after them!
Of course, the challenge was now the removal of all of the souls buried in the cemetery. Families were given 90 days to remove their loved ones; after that point, the local undertaker was given the job—and paid $1.90 per grave. Hindered by unmarked graves, many people (or portions thereof!) were left behind, which accounts for many of the interesting stories that have circulated for decades in the neighborhood.
Once the transformation of the cemetery into parks was completed, the neighborhood began to boom, with most construction occurring between the late 1890’s and the 1940’s.
With a location that enables its residents to enjoy such a variety of Denver amenities including the Botanic Gardens, Congress Park itself, Cherry Creek, and the quaint shopping areas found tucked into the neighborhood, Congress Park is only becoming more popular as time passes.
The Information shown above is provided by permission from Sonja Leonard Leonard.
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