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City Planning in Denver and Los Angeles

Charles Mulford Robinson paper presented at the First National Conference on City Planning and Congestion of Population.

It was about a year, if I remember correctly, after the art commission was established in Denver, that I was asked to visit the city and suggest to the commission how Denver could be improved. Nothing very elaborate was expected.

n all, I spent not quite two weeks in Denver. In that time I attempted to cover the whole city more or less by automobile, met a large number of persons, and discussed the subject with them from various points of view, and wrote my report.

Of course a great many suggestions were made, for Denver is a large city. Among the more important were the extension of Broadway; a better entrance to City Park, extending it to Colfax avenue; some boulevards; some real playgrounds; and, most particularly, the creation of a civic center, of which the capitol should be the crown. This latter, involving the purchase of land that might cost at least three million dollars, was a very ambitious scheme, and it was new, but it had a great deal to recommend it from many standpoints, and I had worked it out with care. The persons present at the meeting were taken off their feet.

It was the consensus of opinion at the dinner that an attempt should be made to carry out the civic center project. A large bond issue was required, and at the next election the matter was submitted to the people. Several months had passed meanwhile; to issue the proposed long-term bonds a charter amendment was necessary, and some questions concerning the municipal ownership of public utilities had been injected into the campaign. All of these matters befogged the real question, and by a slender majority the bond issue was defeated. But the idea would not down. As a writer said not long ago, the people of Denver had seen a vision and never would be content until they had a civic center. Meanwhile, other recommendations of the report were being carried out. The new entrance to the park was secured; playgrounds have been established; the park commission sent for Mr. Kessler and from him secured detailed plans for the boulevards; the extension of Broadway has been definitely platted and is about to be executed. All the time there was talk about the civic center.