Sitting in the shadow of Washington Park to its south are two cute neighborhoods with a shared history: the now-defunct Town of South Denver. They also make up a perfect canvas for a 3.5-mile walk through Platt Park and Rosedale.
The Case of the Missing “e”
Let’s first start with the story of the missing “e”. One of Platt Park’s famous residents was Colonel James Platt, founder of Platt Paper. No one is sure, though, if Platt Park and its neighborhood were named after this famous South Denver resident or if the community was actually named after the Platte River, and the “e” was just simply forgotten in the platting of the park. It is a mystery that will probably never be solved, but some hints of the truth exist.
Beautiful Libraries and Parks!
Platt Park stretches from I-25 to the north, Broadway to the west, S Downing Street to the east, and E Evans Ave to the south. Originally part of the Town of South Denver, the neighborhood, Platte Park, named in the late 1860s with the “e”, once homed South Denver’s only mayor, James Fleming. His mansion is on Platt Park, in the Platt Park neighborhood, on the park’s northwest corner. The historic Denver landmark, built in 1882, once covered the entire block where Mayor Fleming had an orchard known as Fleming’s Grove. He sold the property to the city of South Denver for use as its town hall, jail, and library. The home was restored by The Park People in 2009.
Ultimately South Denver was annexed to Denver, and the mansion remained a library until the Decker Library was built on the park’s northeast corner in 1913 with Carnegie funds. When the library moved out, dances and senior citizen activities moved in, only to move out again in 1974 when the City of Denver built the Platt Park Senior Center between the mansion and the library. Now, several nonprofits use the Fleming Mansion as office space, and the Platt Park neighborhood is officially known by the City of Denver as Platt Park.
The park itself has a small playground where the equipment uprights are made of timber rather than plastic, making the playground blend in more with the park. Around the park’s edges, you will find mature trees, and in the middle is a mixed-use field you will often find people enjoying themselves with their dogs.
Rosedale, Home to 17000 Children and Parks Too!
South of Platt Park lies the Rosedale neighborhood, which continues south past Evans to Yale with the exact east-west boundaries as Platt Park. Whereas Platt Park is home to the famous Pearl Street and its fun farmers’ market and restaurants, Rosedale’s history revolves around Denver pioneer Thomas M Field.
Farming over 80 acres and building a mansion on the corner of East Iliff Ave and South Clarkson St, Field passed away shortly after moving into his home. His wife followed him a few years later. The house became an orphanage from 1902 to 1971, caring for almost 17000 children during its operation.
In the middle of Rosedale is Harvard Gulch Park, which is next to Rosedale Park. It is almost impossible to separate these two parks, as both combine to take up the center of the Rosedale neighborhood. The enormous park is two parks, Harvard Gulch Park North and Harvard Gulch West Park, and the smaller park is Rosedale. The Harvard Gulch spans Iliff and includes the Harvard Gulch Golf Course (a public, 9-hole, par three course) featuring 891 yards of golf and the Harvard Gulch Rec Center. The Harvard Gulch itself runs along the park’s southern edge.
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Jumping across S Logan Street is Rosedale Park. The town of Rosedale originally was the Town of South Denver, a haven for the straight-laced and moral citizens who fled the boozy and bodacious early Denver. Eventually, when the Town of South Denver was annexed to Denver, Rosedale was born, naming itself after Mrs. Field’s rose garden. Its park still welcomes folks to come, reflect and enjoy the many trails that run through it, connecting up with Harvard Gulch Park on its east. You will also find the giant Rosedale Community Garden, where neighbors get together and throw a Garlic Tasting Party that includes a cooking challenge, drinks, and the 13 different varieties of garlic grown in the garden. At the end of each growing season, they throw a tasty party for the whole neighborhood.
Within Harvard Gulch Park, you’ll find typical things to do in a park; a playground, a basketball course, and soccer fields. In addition, there is a slack line course! At the southern edge is the interesting Harvard Gulch, which the US Army Corp and the City of Denver have developed the Urban Waterways Restoration Study. It includes the South Platte River, Harvard Gulch, and Weir Gulch and is looking at ways to improve the ecosystem, drainage, and recreational opportunities along this floodplain.
To the south of Harvard Gulch, Henry Porter opened a sanitarium in Rosedale, intending to provide complete health relief for TB patients. The hospital remains open as the Porter Adventist Hospital.
The Route (click for interactive map):
Start at 1500 S Grant St. Enjoy the Fleming Mansion and the historic rec center at the SW corner of Florida and Grant. Go south on S Grant St. Take a right on E Iowa Ave, and take a right on S Sherman St.
Go left on E Mexico Ave to S Grant St. Continue to E Warren Ave, crossing into Rosedale at Evans. Take a left on Warren. Go south on S Logan Ave to the entry into Harvard Gulch Park.
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Continue southwesterly through the park, past the Field House to the south toward the SE corner of the park. Enjoy the actual gulch at the SE corner of the park, draining toward the west. Exit the park onto E Harvard Ave, continuing to the east.
Go north (left) on S Corona St. Cross back into Platt Park once you cross Evans, then turn left on E Asbury Ave. Take a right on Pearl St.
Continue north on Pearl, noticing Mayu Sanctuary on the right. Continue up Pearl Street, stopping in shops and enjoying the neighborhood. Along here is where a Farmers’ Market is on the weekend. At E Iowa Ave, take a left.
At S Logan Ave, turn north (right) along Grant Park. On the corner of Logan and Florida, enjoy the Decker Library, then turn left on Florida. Return to your start at Grant.
Meandering through Fun Parks and Supporting Denver By Foot
If you’ve enjoyed this information, maybe you’ll enjoy some other walks curated by Denver By Foot. Get the 52 Hikes 52 Weeks Denver Calendar, which recommends a hike a week. Follow us on Instagram and Facebook for current events.
See you on the trail!
Note: This post was initially written by Chris Englert and has been updated by Lisa Alonge as of February 2023.