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How Denver Got Its River Back
A lot of people have driven the restoration of the beleaguered South Platte as an urban riverfront. But one person drove it more than anyone else: the mayor.
By Mary Voelz Chandler

On a blistering day in July 2000, Denver Mayor Wellington E. Webb stood before a hardy crowd on the banks of the South Platte River and talked about the state of the city.

The annual assessment of Denver's health—economic, social, and political—moves from place to place each summer. Though there's never enough shelter from the Mile High summer sun, this was a particularly hot day for an address held in a park so new some of the plantings remained to be installed. No one could count on a tree for shade. One newspaper columnist noted that the sod was so fresh it moved under people's feet.

In his three terms as mayor, Webb has seemed relentless in his drive to remake everything under the Denver sun. And though his address that day turned to some of the social issues dogging this growing city, he first gave a nod to the land on which he stood. In a list of areas "transformed" in the past nine years, the city had "embarked on inflow projects, in the South Platte River corridor, the Central Platte Valley..., and elsewhere that are historic in their magnitude and impact. We are literally building new cities within our existing city and, in so doing, we are gaining national and international recognition as a model of sustainable growth."

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