Colorado History

Stapleton's New Name: Either Skyview or Central Park

The Stapleton moniker will soon disappear from the neighborhood.
The Stapleton moniker will soon disappear from the neighborhood. YouTube
After a second round of resident voting, Skyview and Central Park are the finalists in the push to rename Stapleton neighborhood and cut the last ties to Benjamin Stapleton, who was elected mayor of Denver in 1923 when he was a leading member of the Ku Klux Klan — and then became the namesake of the now-defunct municipal airport where a new neighborhood grew after Denver International Airport opened. Today, Stapleton is home to about 20,000 residents.

The runoff election between the finalists will wrap up on July 30. Over 300 names were submitted, with residents narrowing down a list of nine to four earlier this month, then four to two last week. Stapleton United Neighbors (SUN), the organization that is overseeing the renaming process, will announce the winner on August 1.

While some activists have been pushing to change the Stapleton name for decades, their efforts really took off against the backdrop of the civil-rights protests after the killing of George Floyd. While a few of the nine finalists paid homage to prominent Black residents of metro Denver, only one, Mosley, made it to the final four. And Mosley (along with Concourse) lost to options that refer to location, not a personal legacy.

Skyview, which came in second in the last round of voting, was described with this by SUN's name-change advisory committee: "Whether watching fireworks along the Front Range, experiencing a blood moon from the sledding hill, or taking in a sunset or sunrise, viewing the celestial beauty that surrounds us draws us together in awe. In raising our heads up to take in our sky view, we are reminded of the enormousness of the universe."

The name also nods to the area's days as an airport. "From the earliest days of aviation, the dream was to conquer the sky, extending the boundaries of human endeavor to transcend the adage, ‘the sky’s the limit.' Bringing together the nostalgia of historical air travel and aspirations of those early aviators can give us a name that aspires to give voice to values like diversity, sustainability and access. It is fitting to have a name that directs our thoughts upward to what can be," the committee adds.

Central Park, which got the most votes out of the four semi-finalists, refers to the area's geography: Stapleton has a Central Park, and Central Park Boulevard runs past its western edge. Other Denver neighborhoods, like City Park, have taken their names from parks that lie within their boundaries, the advisory committee notes. But the biggest selling point for Central Park may be how safe the name is.

"The name-change issue has been divisive for our community the last few years. It has sometimes brought out the best and worst in us and created tensions among neighbors. Central Park would be non-controversial, natural and drama-less, which is what our community could use right now," the committee admits.

Once the winner of the resident vote is announced on August 1, the Master Community Association of Stapleton will formally adopt the new name, and signage around the neighborhood will be switched out. The City of Denver has already said it's ready to change the neighborhood's official designation in city documents and on maps.
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Conor McCormick-Cavanagh is a staff writer at Westword, where he covers a range of beats, including local politics, immigration and homelessness. He previously worked as a journalist in Tunisia and loves to talk New York sports.