September 25 marks the anniversary of Teddy Roosevelt’s Whistle Stop Tour that visited Longmont in 1900.
Teddy Roosevelt was running for Vice President in 1900, on the ticket with William McKinley. The two would go on to win, however, McKinley was shot on Sept. 6, 1901 (by Leon Czolgosz, an anarchist, at the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York, and he later died from gangrene on Sept. 14, 1901.) Following McKinley’s assassination, Roosevelt became president (the youngest in history, up to that point, at age 42), and remained Commander in Chief as the 26th President until 1909.
When Roosevelt visited Longmont, then a bustling town of about 3,000 residents, he connected with the community. He was a leader in the Republican Party, a champion of the Progressive Era, a time period of social activism, political reform, and eliminating government corruption, and a lifelong naturalist. So naturally, we named our downtown park after him. Or did we?
There is no documentation showing why Longmont Driving Park’s name was changed to Roosevelt Park between 1910 and 1915, but we can assume it was due to the popular President’s train car appearance. That train car appearance, along with a classic, conservationalist depiction of Teddy Roosevelt have been celebrated as bronze sculptures found in Longmont adjacent to Roosevelt Park.
Roosevelt Park is located at 700 Longs Peak Ave. and is one of the original parks planned by the Chicago-Colorado Colony. The park covers three city blocks and includes: the St. Vrain Memorial Building (recreational), the Senior Center, a multi-use pavilion (used for concerts and events in the summer; ice skating in winter), the Memorial Rose Garden, many sculptures and the Roosevelt Activity & Wading Pool.