America the Beautiful Park
Celebrates the Song and the Mountain
Do you just want to get to the park? Here is the shortcut to a Google map for directions to the park. Have a great time enjoying this really fun park.
- Oh beautiful, for spacious skies,
- For amber waves of grain,
- For purple mountain majesties
- Above the fruited plain!
- America! America! God shed His grace on thee,
- And crown thy good with brotherhood, from sea to shining sea.
- Oh beautiful, for pilgrims’ feet
- Whose stern, impassioned stress
- A thoroughfare for freedom beat
- Across the wilderness!
- America! America! God mend thine ev’ry flaw;
- Confirm thy soul in self control, thy liberty in law!
- Oh beautiful, for heroes proved
- In liberating strife,
- Who more than self their country loved
- And mercy more than life!
- America! America! May God thy gold refine,
- ‘Til all success be nobleness, and ev’ry gain divine!
- Oh beautiful, for patriot dream
- That sees beyond the years,
- Thine alabaster cities gleam
- Undimmed by human tears!
- America! America! God shed His grace on thee,
- And crown thy good with brotherhood, from sea to shining sea!
The words of America the Beautiful are by Katharine Lee Bates, an English professor at Wellesley College. In 1893, Bates had taken a train trip to Colorado Springs, Colorado, to teach a short summer school session at Colorado College.
While visiting, she took a trip up Pikes Peak. While on the mountain, the words of the poem started to come to her, and she wrote them down upon returning to her hotel room at the original Antlers Hotel. The poem was initially published two years later in The Congregationalist, to commemorate the Fourth of July. It quickly caught the public’s fancy. Amended versions were published in 1904 and 1913.
Several existing pieces of music were adapted to the poem. The Hymn tune MATERNA composed in 1882 by Samuel A. Ward, was generally considered the best music as early as 1910 and is still the popular tune today. Ward had been similarly inspired. The tune came to him while he was on a ferryboat trip from Coney Island back to his home in New York City after a leisurely summer day, and he immediately wrote it down. Ward died in 1903, not knowing the national stature his music would attain. Miss Bates was more fortunate, as the song’s popularity was well-established by her death in 1929.
America the Beautiful Park Was a Long Time Coming
Across the country, cities are paying attention to community livability and are investing in spaces that create a sense of community while adding to community life and strengthening economic viability.
In 1992, a combined effort produced the Downtown Action Plan that established goals and vision for assuring the vitality of the Downtown area. Included was a premier amenity, America the Beautiful Park, a 30-acre site.
In 1994, a partnership between local governments and citizens developed the Master Plan for the Pikes Peak Greenway to extend a multi-use trail serving as the spine of the countrywide trails system. Part of that plan included a “greenway” to be developed along the creeks, linking the broader areas into the America the Beautiful Park area.
In 1998, the community approved a bond issue that included $11 million for use in developing the park, and that has stimulated further development in and around the park.
In July of 2000, a Master Plan was developed for the entire park, and has been approved by City Council for continued development. This document addresses the 21 acre park, plus an additional 40 acres surrounding it; bounded by I-25, the Union Pacific Railroad tracks, Bijou and Cimarron streets.
New Fountain Dedicated
In the spring of 2007, the new Julie Penrose Fountain was dedicated. It is a beautiful work of art that is the highlight of the park.
The Playground Rocks
My kids would disagree with the previous statement. They think that the America the Beautiful Park playground is the highlight of the park. Manufactured by Kompan Unique Playgrounds, the hammocks, spinner bowls and turnables will provide truly “out of this world” fun for all who come to play!
In addition to the equipment, there are interactive pieces of art, called Quirks, which inhabit one side of the playground. The Quirks were created through the help of almost 100 students from Bristol Elementary, Columbia Elementary, Globe Charter, and Washington Elementary Schools. In addition to designing the Quirks, each school’s students provided a story on their particular Quirk’s life that was added to the site. Students finished painting the Quirks during the volunteer community playground build.
Finally, because I am a proud father, here is the a picture of my children enjoying the park. You can get a sense of just how cool the park equipment is.