In 1881 Mayor Richard Sopris urged City Council to think of Colfax Avenue as a parkway linking Sloan Lake in West Denver with City Park in East Denver. City Council reduced the acquisition of land east of Denver to 320 acres, and eliminated the Sloan’s Lake parcel. On February 18, 1882, Council ratified the park land purchase.
The lakes in City Park were manufactured and are not natural. Ferril Lake was formed in 1896; Duck Lake in 1891; and Little Lake in 1891. Ferril Lake is named after Thomas Hornsby Ferril (1896-1988), a poet who lived near City Park. He was a journalist who specialized in corporate public relations. He studied and wrote poetry, and was named Colorado Poet Laureate in 1979.
Just before the 1908 Democratic National Convention in Denver, Mayor Robert Speer pushed to build a fountain in the lake in City Park to fascinate onlookers. Nearly a century later, Mayor John Hickenlooper worked to get the fountain up and running before the Democrats came back to Denver for their National Convention. The fountain was repaired and the lake began to be filled in June 2007.
Prismatic Fountain in City Park sprayed a rainbow of colors to the tunes of the Denver Municipal Band in 1908. It sprayed 4400 gallons of water/minute. There were spray effects—wheat sheaves, beehives, vases, geysers, fans—were produced from 2100 nozzles. The fountain was restored in 1983 but it didn’t last long. Cost to restore the fountain in 2007 was $800,000.
City Park is called a regional park because its campus has the Denver Zoo (1896), the Denver Museum of Nature and Science (1900) and City Park Golf Course (1913).