United States

Confluence Park - CO

Situated at the confluence of Cherry Creek and the South Platte River, this site marks the location where gold was discovered in 1858 leading to the founding of Denver. Though early plans for the layout of the city proposed a park for that location, one was never built. By the end of the nineteenth century the confluence was flanked by warehouses, was crossed by Speer Boulevard, and was the convergence point for a number of railroads. In the early part of the twentieth century, the site served as dumping grounds and was the location of an electric substation. In 1965 a massive flood scoured the river banks and washed away much of the industrial infrastructure.

Galvanized by Senator Joe Shoemaker with the establishment of his Greenway Foundation in 1974, community groups and the City of Denver began to reclaim the once-blighted area. Over the subsequent twenty years, the substation was removed, the confluence was dredged, and an urban whitewater park was designed by Architerra Group. Industrial remains were buried and capped by lawn, creating an amphitheater overlooking the waterways. From Shoemaker Plaza at grade level, the white water below is accessed via arcing ramps passing through native grasses and groves of cottonwood and willow. As recommended in a 2012 master plan developed by Wenk Associates, the site is being expanded to include residential, retail, and recreational venues.

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