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Archive of posts filed under the Parks & Public Spaces category.

Union Station’s Newest Public Space: Tail Tracks Plaza

The last of the new public spaces at Denver Union Station is nearing completion. Known as Tail Tracks Plaza, this new public space fills the gap between the newly completed Triangle Building (recently profiled at DenverInfill in Part 1 and Part 2) and the EPA Region 8 headquarters building. The gap is the old Wewatta Street right-of-way where Wewatta used to run between Delgany and Wynkoop streets before Union Station was built in 1881.

Here’s a Google Earth image from October 2014 with Tail Tracks Plaza’s location outlined in yellow:


Why is it called Tail Tracks Plaza? Because until the recent transit infrastructure construction, the historic railroad tracks behind the station building merged into a “tail” that crossed 16th and 15th streets and terminated at Cherry Creek. Here’s a Google Earth image from December 2002 showing the tail tracks crossing 16th Street and merging into a singe track that crossed 15th Street. In this image we also see the Gates building under construction and the old Postal Annex building before its demolition.


The tail tracks were removed in May 2010.

Tail Tracks Plaza is not yet open to the public, but will be soon. As part of my Triangle Building tour, we checked out the plaza where workers were putting in the finishing touches. Here’s a view from roughly the middle of the plaza looking towards 16th Street. The bold stripe of colored pavers commemorate the historic tail tracks:


The side of the Triangle Building facing the plaza contains a canopy-covered patio space for restaurant outdoor seating. In the past few days since I took this photo, the canopy structure has been painted a dark grey color to match the Triangle Building’s ground-floor granite and steel elements:

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Near the 15th Street end of the plaza are some big swings for kids and adults to enjoy. The swings can fit two people and are destined to become a favorite photo-taking spot for tourists and locals. The swings are supported by railroad tracks that have been curved and welded together for structural strength; a mechanism at the top prevents the swing from swinging so far as to bump into the neighboring swing but still allows a good three to four foot swing motion in both directions.

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Tail Tracks Plaza was designed by Design Workshop. During my tour, a couple of my Design Workshop friends stopped by to check out the swing installation:


The other major feature of Tail Tracks Plaza that hasn’t been installed yet is the Bike Station at Denver Union Station. For details about the bike station and the services it will offer, check out our blog post from December 2014. It’s being developed by a non-profit group that has been raising funds over the past year or so. Installation of the light station structure, which will sit on top of the plaza’s stone pavers, should begin within the next few months and be open by the time warmer weather returns in 2016.

The bike station will sit near the 16th Street end of the plaza against the short retaining wall on the right in the image below:


There are the latest renderings, courtesy of East West Partners:



We will visit Tail Tracks Plaza again in the spring after the Bike Station is open. The plaza itself should be open for public enjoyment later this month.

Call to Action: Denver Parking Day 2015

By Jenny Niemann and Madeline Keating

PARKing Day is a day of action to create temporary public spaces to demonstrate alternative, positive uses of parking spaces. Organizations around the country host pop-up parks in parking spaces to create new public spaces and enhance the urban environment in creative and interactive ways.

Denver has a huge number of underutilized land devoted to parking, which not only wastes valuable downtown space but also makes housing more expensive, produces added traffic congestion, and worsens environmental problems (Jeffrey Tumlin, Getting Parking Right in Denver). By getting involved with Denver’s biggest PARKing Day yet, you can help explore opportunities for these spaces to be allocated to a more productive use. PARKing Day 2015 is on Friday, September 18th.

PARKing Day is “an annual open-source global event where citizens, artists and activists collaborate to temporarily transform metered parking spaces into “PARK(ing)” spaces: temporary public places” (from It is for any person, organization, artist, designer, or passerby that is invested in urban sustainability, transportation and mobility, urban planning and design, and so much more. For more information on the international movement, see the official PARKing Day website.

We want PARKing Day to be celebrated throughout Denver, highlighting the importance of open space and the huge amount of public land we currently dedicate to automobile parking spaces. Any organization, company, or individual can get involved: Just reserve a parking space for the day, and set up a simple pop-up park in that spot. Spaces can host all sorts of activities: a park, a library, games, art, seating, etc. Be careful not to let your activities interfere with the active travel lanes. For inspiration, check out Inhabitat’s round up of 2014’s PARKing Day Parks.

To host your own PARKing Day Space, follow these Denver Public Works processes for reserving a spot:

If you are requesting to reserve a spot with a parking meter:

a) Fill out the Parking Meter Request form

b) When submitting this form to DPW, you’ll need to include two additional things:

  • A drawing / site plan of what your 7′ x 18′ space will look like: what will be in there? This must include information about the barrier you will create between the travel lane and the parking spot. Please note that a bike lane is considered a travel lane and cannot be utilized as the buffer for your spot.
  • A traffic control plan for set-up and tear-down of the site. This is most easily accomplished by making sure you don’t disrupt traffic during these times. Last year, we simply parked in the adjacent space and did not enter traffic lanes during move-in and move-out. (It’s also possible you’ll be bringing very little items, or bringing things from an adjacent building and only entering from the sidewalk).

If you are requesting to reserve a parking spot with no parking meter:

a) You will need a street occupancy permit. Click here for the street occupancy permit form.

b) In addition to completing the street occupancy permit form, applicants will be required to rent “No parking anytime tow away zone” signs through a barricade company of their choosing. Those signs are required to be placed at back of curb for each parking spot reserved (approximately every 20 feet) and placed 24 hours in advance of the time of occupancy. A signed copy of the permit must be on site to over-ride the signage restriction.

Please note: If you are building a structure in your parking spot, you may need a lane of traffic to do the work safely. Closing the travel lane will require a traffic control plan and street occupancy permit.

Three other important notes:

  • Denver Public Works will only permit parking spaces on the ends of a block for PARKing DAY set-ups.
  • There needs to be a physical barrier between the parking space and the travel lane, for safety reasons. This barrier should constrain all activity to the parking space, and make sure entrances are from the sidewalk side of the space.
  • The parking space cannot include advertising for a business.

Please contact Denver Public Works Permit Operations at 303-446-3759 if you have questions about any of this—we are just passing along the process. Thanks and good luck!

For more information, please visit the Denver Parking Day 2015 Facebook page. Feel free to reach out to us with any questions, or want to chat about your space or Parking Day in general. Happy PARKing day!


Jenny Niemann and Madeline Keating are students in the Master of Urban and Regional Planning program at CU Denver.

Explore Denver Inside Out at Doors Open Denver 2015!

The 11th annual Doors Open Denver will take place Saturday, April 25 and Sunday, April 26, when buildings throughout Denver will open their doors to the public for exclusive and rare viewing opportunities, exposing the inside of Denver’s unique urban fabric. Doors Open Denver is presented by the Denver Architectural Foundation and draws tens of thousands of attendees each year.

I’ve always been a big fan of Doors Open Denver, but I’m even more excited about the event now because I’m helping to organize it! I’m a new member of the Denver Architectural Foundation Board of Directors and I’m serving on the Doors Open Denver planning committee. My interest in working on Doors Open Denver is to help propel what is already the Mile High City’s premier urban exploration event into an even bigger and better opportunity for people to experience our beautiful city and learn about many of its interesting buildings and sites.


Free participating sites include the Historic Sugar Building, the Dry Ice Factory, RedLine, Cleo Parker Robinson Dance, the Denver Art Museum, The Lobby-­Paris Hotel Building, The Source, Converge Denver and TAXI, among dozens of others. Several of the sites will offer free interactive activities and exhibits. For example, the Denver Fire Department Station #3 will provide firefighter gear demonstrations, fire safety education and giveaway items, and the Byers-Evans House Museum will host The Family Dog: Denver, an exhibition of rock posters from The Family Dog (1967‐1968).

Doors Open Denver also offers ticketed Insider Tours, providing engaging opportunities to view areas of buildings not frequently open to the public. This year’s tours include a look at the Mansions of Capitol Hill, the DaVita building, the D&F Tower, and the Counter-terrorism Education Learning Lab (CELL), along with many others. Tickets will range in cost from $5 to $25, and registration will open to the public on April 6. Proceeds benefit Doors Open Denver, a nonprofit organization.

To help celebrate and promote Doors Open Denver 2015, DenverUrbanism will be featuring brief profiles of over 50 of the free participating sites—one per day for the next 50-plus days—until Doors Open Denver weekend in April! To help with this monumental effort is our Doors Open Denver star intern Maggie Lyons, whose first site profile (featuring Denver Union Station, our Doors Open Denver 2015 headquarters) will appear here tomorrow.

The Bike Hub at Denver Union Station – Coming Fall 2015

by Peter Bird

As Denver continues to expand its bicycle infrastructure (protected lanes, bike parking, and bicycle-specific signage, to name a few), the city recognized the additional need for a major bicycle facility to serve Downtown bike commuters. With a planned opening in the fall of 2015, The Bike Hub at Union Station will soon become the center of bike commuting in downtown Denver. The creation of the Bike Hub was led by the City of Denver, the Union Station Neighborhood Company, and BikeDenver. All images in this post are courtesy of The Bike Hub.


Adjacent to Denver Union Station and the 16th Street Mall, the Bike Hub will serve as a nexus for the city’s burgeoning bike culture. From the Bike Hub, bikers will be able to easily access downtown bike lanes, the Cherry Creek bike path, and the Platte River Greenway. In addition, riders parking their bike in the Bike Hub will have immediate access to all the shopping, entertainment and cultural activities downtown—no need to drive or worry about locking their bike up on the street.


The Bike Hub Facility Details

The Bike Hub was modeled after successful facilities across the country, but also made to be uniquely “Denver,” capitalizing on the city’s current bike-centric attitude, the rise in percentage of residents who bike to work, as well as the multi-modal nature of Union Station.

The Bike Hub will be the centerpiece of an open-air public plaza featuring bike sharing, outdoor seating, and retail. This area will also include outdoor bike parking and rentals, as well as repair stands for professional repair and do-it-yourself repair stands for member use.

Riders will be able to choose between annual, monthly, or daily memberships; and they will access the secure building with a keycard. Inside the 2,800 square-foot building, members will find 160 enclosed bike parking spaces, as well as men’s and women’s showers and changing room facilities.


The Future of Biking in Denver

Denver deserves a bicycle facility worthy of its impressive, yet still growing, bicycle culture. And it’s going to get it with The Bike Hub at Union Station. With the downtown bike commuting mode share approaching seven percent, and the number of people commuting by bike more than doubling since 2007 (now almost 10,000 people every day!), a dedicated bike facility is well deserved.

The Hub’s construction sends a clear message that the city recognizes the importance of biking for its future growth. And once completed, the Hub will serve the needs of those who already bike to work—or just downtown—and it will also encourage more people to bike into the city.


Peter Bird grew up around the country and, after completing his Bachelor’s degree in linguistics, moved abroad, living in Hungary and Estonia. It was there that he first developed a love for cities and the transportation patterns within them. He currently works for BikeDenver and is also pursuing a Master of Urban and Regional Planning degree from the University of Colorado Denver with a special interest in bicycle/pedestrian transportation planning.

CU Denver Students Celebrate PARK(ing) Day 2014

by Jenny Niemann, CU Denver Master of Urban and Regional Planning student

On Friday, September 19, the Planners Network – CU Denver Chapter turned a parking spot at 14th and Larimer into a temporary parklet. Graduate students in the University of Colorado Denver’s Master of Urban and Regional Planning Program participated in the International PARK(ing) Day to raise awareness about the vast amount of space dedicated to parking spots in the US and to start a conversation about more productive uses of these spaces.

PARK(ing) Day “is an annual worldwide event where artists, designers and citizens transform metered parking spots into temporary public parks. The project began in 2005 when Rebar, a San Francisco art and design studio, converted a single metered parking space into a temporary public park in downtown San Francisco. Since 2005, PARK(ing) Day has evolved into a global movement, with organizations and individuals (operating independently of Rebar but following an established set of guidelines) creating new forms of temporary public space in urban contexts around the world.”


The Planners Network – CU Denver Chapter parking space was filled with seating, games, books, and an opportunity for Denver residents to participate. Seemingly surprised by the unusual furniture set up in the middle of a parking space, many pedestrians stopped to read an information board describing PARK(ing) Day goals and the state of parking in the US. Passersby were asked to contribute to a board asking what else this 9′ x 18′ space could be besides empty asphalt dedicated only to cars. Ideas ranged from bike parking to affordable housing and a water slide. Throughout the day, students from the College of Architecture and Planning utilized the space for studying and socializing with peers.


Books were also collected for a “park library” and visitors were invited to take a book home with them. Remaining donated books were given to The Arc.

Students hope to continue PARK(ing) Day efforts throughout the year and more Denver organizations will host parks for PARK(ing) Day next year, which is always held the third Friday in September. For more information on international PARK(ing) Day, see