As development eats away at Denver’s green space, the “city within a park” is becoming a concrete metropolis.
More than a century ago, Denver’s leaders — inspired by the City Beautiful movement — built toward the ideal of a “city within a park.” But the last 20 years have seen immense change, as Denver’s population has exploded and developers cover more and more of the city’s remaining nature. Green space per capita is decreasing in the Mile High City as leaders sign off and developers transform urban environment.
In the series
- Part 1: Green space disappearing in Denver faster than in other cities.
- Part 2: Residents facing green space crunch seek room to roam.
- Part 3: Push to regain green space faces obstacles of environment, equity.
The Denver Post’s analysis found
- Green space in Denver is disappearing faster than in most other cities, with paved-over cover increasing from 19 percent of the city in 1974 to 48 percent in 2018 (not including Denver International Airport), federal and city data show. Up to 69 percent of the city is expected to be paved or covered by 2040. Only New York and a few mega cities exceed that level of what planners call “imperviousness.”
- Denver ranks nearly last among major U.S. cities, including New York, in park space as a percentage of total area. It also ranks nearly last in park acres per resident.
- City leaders are overriding residents’ desire for increased green space as they sign off on more high-density development.
- The dwindling of nature in Denver could lead to potentially overwhelming increases in stormwater runoff, and is causing worsening heat-wave impacts and likely hurting residents’ physical and mental health.
- The situation has reached a point that clashes with the “green” images Denver economic development officials project to promote growth, tourism and the outdoor recreation industry.