Josiah (in red) and Hayden have fun on playground equipment at Mestizo-Curtis Park in Denver, CO. The skyscrapers of downtown Denver can be seen beyond the park. Denver's oldest park, Five Points neighborhood, diversity, children of color.
Kiefel Photography

A new day for Denver’s oldest city park

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Geraldolyn Horton-Harris used to live across the street from Mestizo-Curtis Park, the oldest public park in Denver—but she never let her grandchildren play there. After decades of neglect, the playground equipment had grown old and rusty. She recalls rampant drug use and neighborhood gang members who used the park as a gathering place, intimidating local families.

“Mestizo-Curtis Park represents a lot of hurt,” says Horton-Harris. “This was a very violent park at one time.” Some days, Horton-Harris’s daughters would Google “best parks in Denver” and drive their children there; other days, dozens of neighborhood kids would gather to play in the Horton-Harris front yard instead of venturing across the street to the park.

But Horton-Harris, a 47-year Denver resident, believed that the historic park held great potential to make life better—for herself, her family, and for their entire community. “Revitalizing the park I believe is the first step to revitalizing the people,” she says.

So with help from The Trust for Public Land and local partners like Groundwork Denver, Horton-Harris joined a coalition that remade their park into a safe, shared space for the entire neighborhood. See what neighbors are saying about the future of Denver’s oldest public park.

Want to learn more? Stay tuned for a feature story in the upcoming issue of Land&People magazine about how this park is the hub of a healthy living movement in Denver’s Curtis Park neighborhood. 


Lottie Nicholson
I was a substitute teacher at Garden Place Elementary in 1972?. It was a long time ago. It was the toughest job of my career. I had five different nationalities in my fifth grade class. I taught with my classroom door locked as did all the teachers. I had a knife pulled on me on playground duty by an eighth grader. I will always remember the area. I am glad it is improving.

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