May 16, 2023 - News

Denver's La Raza Park nears landmark status

A dedication at La Raza Park on Sunday, June 20, 2016. Photo: AAron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post via Getty Images

It's a moment Denver City Council member Amanda Sandoval has envisioned for years: Seeing La Raza Park get its due.

Driving the news: A council committee last week forwarded an application making the park a historic cultural district.

  • Sandoval, who represents the area where the park is located, sponsored the initiative.

Why it matters: If confirmed, La Raza Park would become only the third historic cultural district in Denver β€” a recognition primarily acknowledging the stories and contributions made by historically marginalized people.

  • Making it a cultural district would also help preserve the northside park and recognize its significance to the Chicano community in Denver.

What they're saying: "This is an opportunity to have another story told that we as Latinos know and have lived," Sandoval tells us.

Between the lines: The park met four landmark criteria, including a relatively new "social movements" one, which it met due to its connection to the Chicano movement during the 1960s and 1970s. It sought equal access for public amenities like pools and recreation centers, work and education.

  • The park served as a meeting space for young Chicanos to meet, work and mobilize for the movement.
  • Sandoval said mainstream media coverage at the time characterized them as "agitators" instead of activists.

The intrigue: The park's potential landmark status is linked to a first-of-its-kind study completed by the city last year detailing the history of Chicanos, Mexican American and Latino residents.

  • The study recommended the park as a potential landmark district.

The big picture: Only 13% of landmarks in Denver are connected to historically excluded communities, including women, BIPOC and LGBTQ people, according to city planning spokesperson Amanda Weston.

By the numbers: Between individual properties and historic districts with multiple structures, Denver has 7,200 landmark buildings, or about 4.5% of the city, senior city planner Becca Dierschow said last week.

Flashback: Locals have called it La Raza Park for decades, but its name was Columbus Park β€” to honor the neighborhood's Italian residents β€” before it was formally renamed in December 2020.

Of note: La Alma-Lincoln Park and Five Points are the other two existing historic cultural districts.


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