Fire, Car Crash Aren’t The First Trials For Denver’s Historic Civic Center Park

Jul 25, 2018

For the second time in a week, parts of Denver’s Civic Center Park have been damaged.

Over the weekend, a hit-and-run driver took out part of the park’s more than 100-year-old marble balustrade. Wednesday, the interactive installation “Tree of Transformation” was set on fire. The sculpture, which features an antique piano with a steel tree growing out of it, was a total loss.

“The edge of the park in particular has taken a bit of a beating lately,” said Scott Robson, executive director of the Civic Center Conservancy. Especially the part of the park along Colfax Avenue, which Robson described as a bit of a “war zone.”

“Drivers whether they’re intoxicated or whatever the issue might be, miss the curve and drive into the park,” he said. “Over just the last year (they’ve) destroyed trees; I think, four different light poles along the park; and a really large part of public art was destroyed by a car nine months ago that is still under repair.”

That can be expensive. The damage to the railing will cost the city about $75,000, Robson said. The sculpture, which was on loan from the artists, was valued at around $50,000.

The non-profit Civic Center Conservancy hopes to work with Denver Parks and Recreation and Public Works to find a way to prevent cars from driving into the park, while maintaining its historic nature.

“People are really surprised to learn that Civic Center Park is the only national historic landmark in Denver and one of only 25 in the entire state,” Robson said. “So that raises particular concerns when you have this kind of damage occurring on a regular basis.”

In the meantime, they are working with Denver-based Yetiweurks, the artists behind “Tree of Transformation,” to figure out how to take it down, and marble from Washington is being ordered to repair the railing. The Denver Police Department is investigating both incidents.