“Just West of the tracks” would be accurate in giving directions for Riverfront Park. Union Station and the massive rail yards originated in the late 1800s. The land between the railroad track and the South Platte River was a no man's land of abandonment.
This is the area that poet Jack Kerouac of the “Beat Generation” wandered and took inspiration. Kerouac’s character Dean Moriarity was patterned after Neal Cassady who Kerouac meets in this area of dead-end streets, “hobos”, and transients. Mr. Cassady was a product of the streets of Denver and these rail yards.
Over the past decade, all has changed and continues to change. The City of Denver, together with urban planners and private real estate developers, have combined to create the Riverfront Park neighborhood. This planned community will likely require another 10 to 15 years to reach its full potential.
Of the roughly 120-acres in the Central Platte Valley, 90-acres have been developed into Commons Park, Cuernavaca Park, Fishback Park, Confluence Park, Gates-Crescent Park, and Centennial Park. Nearby, you will also find the Museum Of Contemporary Art Denver, the Pepsi Center, the Denver Children’s Museum, Elitch Gardens Six Flags Amusement Park, the Denver Aquarium, and the Denver Public Skate Park.
The rail track was consolidated in the area and the Millennium Bridge for pedestrians was constructed to span over the remaining active rail track. The Platte Pedestrian Bridge was constructed over the South Platte River. Finally, the pedestrian Highland Bridge was constructed over Interstate-25 to the LoHi Lower Highland neighborhood.
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