Denver’s Red Rocks park designated as national landmark

‘Places reflect the creativity and ingenuity of the American spirit …’

Red Rocks has been designated as a National Historic Landmark. Photo courtesy

Staff Report

FRISCO — During the Great Depression, the Civilian Conservation Corps transformed a red, rocky local park on the outskirts of Denver into a renowned metropolitan park and outdoor center of the arts.

This week, the National Park Service recognized the enduring values of Red Rocks Park, along with the historic Mount Morrison Civilian Conservation Corps Camp, with a designation as a National Historic Landmark. The designation recognizes sites that possess exceptional value and quality in illustrating or interpreting the heritage of the United States.

National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis also announced the same designation for three other sites: The First Peoples Buffalo Jump, Cascade County, Montana, George Washington Masonic National Memorial, Alexandria, Virginia, and Lafayette Park, Detroit, Michigan.

“Though very different from one another, these places reflect the creativity and ingenuity of the American spirit,” Jarvis said in a prepared statement. “National historic landmarks are an example of how the mission of the National Park Service extends beyond park boundaries to recognize additional places of national significance in communities throughout the country.”

The park service described the designations in a news release:

Red Rocks Park

The outstanding architecture and landscape architecture of Red Rocks Park and Mount Morrison Civilian Conservation Corps Camp illustrate the principles and practices of New Deal-era naturalistic park design and master planning in a metropolitan park as well as the use of Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) labor to develop such a park. Mount Morrison CCC Camp is one of the few surviving camps in the nation that retains a high concentration of original resources. The amphitheater in the park is one of America’s best known performing arts venues, famous for its natural acoustics, design, and setting.

First Peoples Buffalo Jump

First Peoples Buffalo Jump is one of the oldest, largest, and best preserved bison cliff jump locations in North America.  Its monumental record of stone surface architecture, deeply stratified bison bone deposits, multiple tipi ring concentrations, and extensive evidence of ceremonies indicate that, for approximately 5,700 years, First Peoples Buffalo Jump held the paramount position in the Northern Plains “bison culture.”  This site holds the potential for defining the evolving sophistication of mass-procurement strategies of hunter-gatherer societies in the Northern Plains, and may also provide insights regarding cultural development of Precontact hunter-gatherer societies in the western United States.

George Washington Masonic National Memorial

The George Washington Masonic National Memorial stands among the most architecturally significant projects to honor George Washington and one of the boldest private efforts to memorialize him. The Grand Lodges of the states and territories, which usually operate independently, joined forces to build this national memorial. This eclectic building combines neoclassical architecture common to American memorials and civic buildings with a modern skyscraper design.

Lafayette Park

Lafayette Park is one of the earliest planned and most fully-realized urban renewal projects of the mid-twentieth century.  It succeeded in creating an ethnically-diverse community that continues to thrive today and is generally regarded as one of the best and most successful examples of a residential urban renewal development in the nation.  It was a collaborative design endeavor between architect (Ludwig Mies van der Rohe), developer (Herbert Greenwald), planner (Ludwig Hilberseimer), and landscape architect (Alfred Caldwell).


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