Parks and Recreation
Libraries and Museums
Holidays and Festivals
For Further Study
Founded: 1858; Incorporated: 1861
Location: North-central Colorado near the foothills of the Rocky Mountains
Motto: Nil sine numine (Nothing without providence; state motto)
Flower: Rocky Mountain columbine (state flower)
Time Zone: 5 amMountain Standard Time (EST) = noon Greenwich Mean Time (GMT)
Ethnic Composition: White 83.6%, Black 12.8%, American Indian 1.2%, Asian/Pacific Islander 2.4%
Elevation: 1,609 meters (5,280 feet) above sea level
Latitude and Longitude: 39°66'N, 104°83'W
Climate : Mild, dry, arid climate; mild winters and comfortable summers with low humidity
Annual Mean Temperature: 10°C (50°F); January–1°C (30°F); August 22°C (72°F)
Seasonal Average Snowfall: 152 cm (60 in)
Average Annual Precipitation (total of rainfall and melted snow): 39.4 cm (15.5 in).
Weights and Measures: Standard U.S.
Monetary Units: Standard U.S.
Telephone Area Codes: 303, 720
Postal Codes: 80201–14, 80216–25, 80227, 80229, 80231, 80233–95
From a nineteenth-century gold and silver boomtown frequented by gamblers and gunmen, Denver, the capital of Colorado, has evolved into a major Western commercial and population center, the largest city in a 965-kilometer (600-mile) radius. Today Denver is known as much for the cultural sophistication, business savvy, and new skyline of its flourishing downtown as for the majestic mountain backdrop that borders the city and provides a picturesque view and abundant recreational opportunities for residents and visitors alike.
Located 1.6 kilometers (one mile) above sea level, Denver is situated on the high rolling plains of north-central Colorado, at the junction of the South Platte River and Cherry Creek and near the eastern foothills of the Rocky Mountains and the Continental Divide. Although generally regarded as a Western city, it is only 557 kilometers (346 miles) west of the exact center of the continental United States and is more centrally located than any other major U.S. city except Kansas City, Missouri.
Denver is accessible by I-25 (State Route 87), running north-south, and I-70, running east-west. Merging with I-25 north of the city is I-76, which runs northeast to southwest to the east of the city; I-225 connects I-25 and I-70. Together with State Route 470, I-225 and I-70 form a loop around the city.
Bus and Railroad Service
Amtrak trains stop at Denver's Union Station three times daily on its major east-west route from Chicago to Los Angeles. Greyhound provides all long-distance bus service to Denver. The city is a major inter-city busline hub, with more than 60 arrivals and departures daily.
Denver International Airport, which opened in 1995, covers 137 square kilometers (53 square miles) and has five full-service runways. The airport, which served over 37 million passengers in 1999 and has a maximum capacity of 110 million passengers, is the second-largest hub nationwide for United Airlines. With "peaks" designed to represent the Rocky Mountains, the airport's main terminal building has become one of Denver's most prominent architectural landmarks.
Denver Population Profile
Area: 397 sq km (153.3 sq mi)
Ethnic composition: 83.6% white; 12.8% black; 1.2% Native American; 2.4% Asian/Pacific Islander
Nicknames: The Mile High City, The Queen City of the Plains, The City of Silver and Gold
Description: Area within city limits, plus the suburbs of Arvada, Northglenn, Westminster, Thornton, Aurora, Golden, Lakewood, Wheat Ridge, Cherry Hills, Greenwood Villages, Littleton, and Englewood
Area: 9,741 sq km (3,761 sq mi)
World population rank 1: 199
Percentage of national population 2: 0.6%
Average yearly growth rate: 1.0%
Ethnic composition: 90.1% white; 6.2% black; 2.9% Asian/Pacific Islander
- The Denver metropolitan area's rank among the world's urban areas.
- The percent of the total US population living in the Denver metropolitan area.
Thanks to its central location, Denver is a major commercial hub for ground transportation, serving four major rail carriers and more than 160 trucking companies, as well as air cargo carriers. It is estimated that more than 30 million people receive goods transported through Denver by air, rail, or truck every year. With its designation as a Free Trade Zone, the city is also a busy import and export center.
Downtown Denver is laid out in a grid pattern and bordered on the south by Colfax Avenue (the major east-west thoroughfare) and on the east by Broadway, running north-south. The downtown area is easy to negotiate. It is possible to walk from one end to the other in about a half-hour, and the mountains on the western horizon make it easy to get one's bearings at all times. In the part of the city outside the immediate downtown area (which has its own grid pattern), avenues run from east to west while streets run north-south.
Bus and Commuter Rail Service
Denver's Regional Transportation District (RTD) runs bus routes that carry passengers to every part of the urban area between the hours of 5:30 am and 10:30 pm. The main bus station is located at Broadway and Colfax, next door to the Civic Center. The RTD also operates a light rail system along a limited route. The Cultural Connection Trolley (which is actually a bus) covers a downtown loop route that takes in many of the city's major cultural attractions.
Gray Line Tours operates out of the city's main bus terminal at 19th Street and Arapahoe Street and offers sightseeing tours of Denver and the surrounding area. Half-and full-day scenic and historic tours are offered by Best Mountain Tours and Discover Colorado Tours. There is also a special tour available of the area's brewpubs.
Denver is the nation's twentieth most populous city. In 1990, the population of Denver was 468,000, of which 12.8 percent was black, 1.2 percent American Indian, and 2.4 percent Asian. Hispanics (both white and black) accounted for 23 percent of the population. As part of a larger statewide population boom, the city's population has increased by 23 percent in the past decade; the current population is estimated at 510,000.
The population of the Denver Primary Metropolitan Statistical Area was estimated at 1,901,156 in 1997. The region's racial composition was listed by the U.S. Census Bureau in 1996 as 90.1 percent white; 6.2 percent black;2.9 percent Asian/Pacific Islander. The percentage of residents of Hispanic origin (an ethnic rather than a racial designation) was 14.2 percent.
The median age of Denver's residents is 32.9, slightly lower than the U.S. median age of 33.2. However, the age group that really stands out is the baby boomer generation: Denver has a greater percentage of boomers among its population than any other major U.S. city—32.8 percent (compared with 31.5 percent for its nearest competitor, Seattle).
Downtown Denver is divided into four main districts. To the south lies the Civic Center Park area. The park, which is the locale for Denver's major annual festivities, is surrounded by museums and government buildings, and the state capitol building is located on a nearby hilltop.
The heart of Denver's business and theater districts is the 16th Street Mall, a mile-long pedestrian-only thoroughfare located a block away from Civic Center Park. A series of parks and shops line the mall, including Denver Pavilions, a recently completed entertainment complex whose attractions include a Hard Rock Cafe and 15 movie houses.
|City Fact Comparison|
|Population of urban area1||1,687,000||10,772,000||2,688,000||12,033,000|
|Date the city was founded||1858||AD 969||753 BC||723 BC|
|Daily costs to visit the city2|
|Hotel (single occupancy)||$83||$193||$172||$129|
|Meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner)||$40||$56||$59||$62|
|Incidentals (laundry, dry cleaning, etc.)||$24||$14||$15||$16|
|Total daily costs (hotel, meals, incidentals)||$125||$173||$246||$207|
|Number of newspapers serving the city||2||13||20||11|
|Largest newspaper||The Denver Post||Akhbar El Yom/Al Akhbar||La Repubblica||Renmin Ribao|
|Circulation of largest newspaper||341,554||1,159,339||754,930||3,000,000|
|Date largest newspaper was established||1892||1944||1976||1948|
|1United Nations population estimates for the year 2000.|
|2The maximum amount the U.S. Government reimburses its employees for business travel. The lodging portion of the allowance is based on the cost for a single room at a moderately-priced hotel. The meal portion is based on the costs of an average breakfast, lunch, and dinner including taxes, service charges, and customary tips. Incidental travel expenses include such things as laundry and dry cleaning.|
|3David Maddux, ed. Editor&Publisher International Year Book. New York: The Editor&Publisher Company, 1999.|
The historic center of the city is the LoDo (short for Lower Downtown) district, a formerly run-down 26-block area where Victorian and late nineteenth-century buildings have been restored and converted into retail and dining establishments, galleries, and lofts. This revitalization was spurred by the 1995 completion of Coors Field, the new home of the Colorado Rockies baseball team, which brought crowds into the area and motivated entrepreneurs to develop it. Today the district is home to more than 40 art galleries, 80 sports bars, and numerous shops and restaurants.
To the northwest lies South Platte Valley, located on land reclaimed from a floodplain. It is home to an amusement park, a world-class aquarium, a children's museum, and the new Pepsi Center sports arena.
In addition to the existing downtown districts, a new area called Commons Park is being planned northwest of Union Station, as well as further development in the Golden Triangle south of Civic Center Park.
The metropolitan area spreads out in all directions from downtown Denver. To the north are the residential suburbs of Arvada, Northglenn, Westminster, and Thornton; Aurora is situated to the east; the western suburbs include Golden, Lakewood, and Wheat Ridge; and the southern suburbs include Cherry Hills, Greenwood Villages, Littleton, and Englewood.
Permanent settlement of Denver began in 1858 when gold was discovered in small deposits along the South Platte River, near its junction with Cherry Creek. The area attracted prospectors disappointed with the yields at Pike's Peak, as well as gold-seekers newly arrived from the East. By 1867, Denver (named for an early territorial governor, James Denver) had been designated as a territorial capital.
The city's early years were marked by misfortunes that included two major fires, flooding, Indian attacks, and invasion by Confederate forces from Texas during the Civil War (1861–65). Denver also acquired a rather unsavory reputation as new gold discoveries drew a variety of colorful characters to the growing boomtown. However, by 1880, as gold discoveries were waning, gold was replaced by silver as the area's primary source of wealth, and Denver's growth accelerated. The city rebounded from a depression caused by a drop in silver prices in 1893 to become a bustling cosmopolitan center by the late nineteenth century, graced by parks, statues, mansions, and such landmarks as the Tabor Opera House, built by silver baron Horace Tabor. Approximately 30,000 trees were planted along the city's boulevards, and 20,000 acres of land were acquired for its mountain park system. Denver's rapid development and newfound sophistication led to the nickname "Queen City of the Plains."
In the early twentieth century, infrastructure improvements continued, and in 1928, with the opening of the Moffat Tunnel through the Rocky Mountains, the railroad provided a direct connection to the West Coast, spurring additional growth. (The transcontinental line of the Union Pacific Railroad had bypassed Colorado in the nineteenth century, but Denver built a rail line to meet the Union Pacific at Cheyenne, Wyoming.) With a direct link to the West, Denver became a hub for the nation's rail lines and growing highway system. By World War II, the establishment of government agencies including the U.S. Mint and the Bureau of Land Management helped spur a new surge in population, which continued through the 1950s, as the city's climate and recreational opportunities sparked a building boom.
Movement to the suburbs resulted in a drop in population in the 1960s, and the energy crisis of the 1970s also slowed the city's growth. However, urban renewal and a new construction boom, beginning in the late 1970s and continuing through the 1980s and 1990s, have changed the face of the city, giving it a modern, vibrant downtown with 16 skyscrapers constructed during the last decade alone. Denver's downtown is now the nation's tenth largest, and its population is double what it was in 1960. Major improvements continued in the 1990s with the construction of Coors Field, one of the country's top baseball stadiums, and the large, modern Denver International Airport, both of which opened in 1995. The city continues to grow and modernize, with major development planned for the Commons Park area northwest of Union Station—including a series of pedestrian bridges over the South Platte River—and further development in the Golden Triangle district south of Civic Center Park. A major enlargement of the city's convention center is planned as well.
Denver's government administers both the city and county of Denver under a strong mayor, elected to a four-year term, and a council whose 13 members are also elected for four years.
Denver is known for its clean, safe downtown area. The Denver Police Department, whose operations are organized into six districts, is the largest in the state of Colorado. In 1995, Denver police received reports of 861 violent crimes per 100,000 population, including 16 murders, 63 rapes, and 279 robberies. Property crimes reported numbered 6,012 and included 1,465 burglaries and 1,036 motor vehicle thefts.
After taking steps in the 1980s to reduce its dependence on the energy sector by diversification, Denver has thrived in the 1990s as a center for commerce and finance, a transportation hub, and a manufacturing center. It is home to major companies in fields including telecommunications and air transport as well as numerous government agencies and is also the major research center for alternative energy sources between the east and west coasts.
The city has a well-educated work force and a low unemployment rate. Its standard of living is above the national average, and housing and health care costs are high (although utility costs and commercial lease rates are low compared to other parts of the country). The service sector employs the greatest number of people, followed by wholesale and retail trade, government, manufacturing, transportation and public utilities, and financial services.
Goods manufactured in the Denver area include mining and farm machinery, fabricated metals, chemicals, scientific instruments, transportation equipment, rubber goods, feed and flour, luggage, and western clothing.
In spite of its association with the Rocky Mountains, Denver is actually built on a high plain and is one of the flattest cities in the United States. The two outstanding features of Denver's environment are its proximity to the mountains and its altitude. The most prominent peak visible from the city is Mount Evans, at 4,346 meters (14,260 feet). On clear days, Pike's Peak (97 kilometers/60 miles to the south) and Long's Peak (80 kilometers/50 miles northwest) can also be seen.
Denver's altitude, which averages 1.6 kilometers (one mile) above sea level, ensures its residents a low level of air pollution and skies that appear bluer (also due to lower levels of water vapor). Water in Denver boils at 112°C (202°F) rather than the standard 118°C (212°F), making a challenge out of cooking, or even brewing a good cup of coffee. On the other hand, the altitude lends itself to beer brewing, for which the city is famous.
Denver also receives nearly 25 percent more ultraviolet radiation than cities at sea level, making it important for its residents to receive adequate protection from the sun.
Downtown Denver's premier shopping venue is the 16th Street Mall, a lively and crowded mile-long pedestrian thoroughfare that is home to a wide variety of retail outlets. Most recently, it was expanded to include Denver Pavilions, a retail and entertainment complex that opened in the fall of 1998 and includes a Virgin Records Megastore, a Hard Rock Cafe, and a Barnes and Noble Superstore. The Tabor Center, at one end of the mall, is the locale for upscale retailers such as Brooks Brothers. Other downtown malls include Larimer Square, Writer Square, and Cherry Creek Mall, home to exclusive stores including Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman-Marcus, and Abercrombie and Fitch. The recently opened Park Meadows shopping complex, which includes Nordstrom, Dillard's, and Foley's, was designed to resemble a ski lodge and boasts a huge fireplace at the center of its main court.
Notable Denver retailers include the three-story Tattered Cover Bookstore, which stakes a claim to be the largest independent bookstore in the United States, and the chain of multi-story Gart Brothers sporting goods stores.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the Denver metropolitan area ranks first in the United States in terms of education, with the highest percentage of both high school and college graduates (92 percent and 35 percent respectively, compared to national averages of 82 percent and 23 percent).
The Denver County School District operates 118 schools. In the fall of 1996, 66,331 students were enrolled in the system, which employed 3,198 classroom teachers and 7,117 staff personnel.
The Denver metropolitan area is home to 14 four-year colleges, including the University of Denver, the University of Colorado at Denver, and Metropolitan State University. There are also eight two-year and community colleges and over 90 technical and vocational schools in the area, as well as the nontraditional Denver Free University.
13. Health Care
Denver's fresh mountain air has long given it a reputation as a healthy place to live or spend time. The traditional association between mountains and the treatment of lung disorders provided the initial impetus for the founding of the National Jewish Hospital, today an internationally acclaimed center for research in and treatment of respiratory diseases as well as allergic and immunological problems. In the 1990s Denver acquired a new claim to fame as a healthy place when a nationwide survey found that its residents are, on average, the thinnest in the United States, with fewer than 20 percent suffering from obesity, as compared with the national average of 50 percent. This finding has been attributed to the active lifestyle encouraged by the city's weather and location.
Considered the premier medical center of the Rocky Mountain region, Denver boasts over 20 major hospitals known for their research and treatment facilities, including Denver General Hospital, University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, AMC Cancer Research Center, Rose Medical Center, Colorado Psychiatric Hospital, and Fitzsimmons Army Medical Center.
Denver has two major daily newspapers, both published in the morning. Known for its in-depth reporting and quality columns, The Denver Post is widely regarded as Colorado's top newspaper, as well as one of the best in the western part of the country. In the fall of 1998 it had a weekday circulation of 341,554 and a Sunday circulation of 484,657. The Denver Rocky Mountain News is older and more conservative than the Post. Founded in 1859, it is Colorado's oldest newspaper. Its fall 1998 circulation was 331,978 weekdays and 432,931 on Sunday.
Westword is Denver's lively and sometimes controversial news and arts weekly. It is especially known for its comprehensive entertainment listings and its annual "Best of Denver" survey, published in June, which rates restaurants and a wide variety of other businesses and services. The Denver Business Journal is a business weekly, and numerous smaller neighborhood weeklies are published as well. Periodicals covering the Denver area include Colorado Country Life, Colorado Outdoors, Colorado Legionnaire, Colorado Rancher, and Farmer.
The three major commercial networks and public television have affiliates in Denver, which has a total of nine major television stations as well as cable channels. Broadcasts by more than 45 am and FM radio stations are received in the city and surrounding area.
Thanks to its pro sports facilities and opportunities for participant sports, Denver was named "Best Sports City" by The Sporting News in 1997. With major league teams in all professional sports, Denver has seen the approval and/or completion of three new major sports venues in the 1990s. Coors Field, the home of baseball's National League Colorado Rockies (which began playing in Denver in 1993 in Mile High Stadium), opened in 1995 and hosted the all-star game in 1998. Acclaimed as one of the nation's top new ball fields, it has also been the centerpiece for the transformation of the LoDo (lower downtown) area.
The 20,000-seat Pepsi Center, which opened in the fall of 1999, is the new home of the Denver Nuggets of the National Basketball Association and the National Hockey League's Colorado Avalanche, which won the 1996 Stanley Cup. A new $360 million football stadium to be built adjacent to the old Mile High Stadium is slated for completion in 2001 when it will become the home of Denver's 1998 and 1999 Super Bowl champions, the Denver Broncos.
Public land open to all types of recreation accounts for roughly half the state of Colorado, which is home to two national parks, 11 national forests, 30 state parks, and three national recreation areas. Nearly 100 hiking, cycling, horseback riding, and ski trails operated by the Colorado State Trails Program pass through the Denver metropolitan area. The metro area also boasts over 200 parks with facilities for activities including picnicking, cycling, tennis, and swimming. Popular and accessible parks include City Park (also the location of the Denver Zoo and the Natural History Museum), Denver Botanic Gardens, Bear Creek Lake State Park, Cherry Creek Lake State Recreation Area, and Chatfield Lake State Recreation Area.
Denver's location near the Rocky Mountains makes skiing a prime recreational activity; numerous slopes can be reached in less than two hours of driving. The high-profile ski resorts of Vail, Aspen, and Breckenridge are easily accessible from the city, as well as lesser-known facilities that also offer world-class skiing, such as Arapahoe Basin. Between December and April, the Ski Train carries passengers from Union Station to Winter Park Ski Resort via the Moffat Tunnel through the mountains for a weekend of skiing.
Bicycling is one of the most popular recreational activities in Denver, which has more than 724 kilometers (450 miles) of paved bicycle paths, including two that wind through the downtown area along the South Platte River and Cherry Creek. Another major outdoor activity is golfing, and there are more than 70 golf courses in Denver, as well as over 143 public tennis courts. Punting (riding in a boat resembling a gondola) is available on Cherry Creek.
Elitch Gardens and Amusement Park, which moved to a new site near Coors Field in 1995, offers 32 rides (including whitewater rafting), miniature golf, and other attractions. Lake-side Amusement Park is located just west of the city.
17. Performing Arts
With a total seating capacity of 10,800, the Denver Performing Arts Complex, home to the Denver Symphony Orchestra, the Colorado Ballet, and the Denver Theater Company, is the nation's second-largest performing arts complex, surpassed only by Lincoln Center in New York City. The center's facilities, which occupy four city blocks, include the Auditorium Theatre, Boettcher Concert Hall (the nation's first symphony-hall-in-the-round), and the Temple Buell Theater (a 2,800-seat venue for Broadway theater productions), as well as the world's first laboratory for the study of the human voice.
The Denver Center Theater Company, which is the leading repertory theater in the West, won the 1998 Tony award for best regional theater. The troupe produces 12 plays every season, on four different stages.
The Changing Scene Theater supports up-and-coming talent by producing only world premieres. Since 1968, some 300 productions have been staged at the 76-seat facility, and some have gone on to successful runs in New York, Los Angeles, and other cities. The theater has won grant support from such sources as the National Endowment for the Arts and the Rockefeller Foundation.
Besides the Performing Arts Complex, Denver has some 30 other theaters, as well as over 100 movie houses. The Lower Downtown area (LoDo) has become a thriving center for popular entertainment, including jazz, comedy, and dance.
The Denver Public Library operates a central library downtown and 22 neighborhood branches. With a total of 1,882,487 book and government document volumes and over five million items altogether, the library serves a population of over half a million and employs a staff of 453. Its special collections cover subject areas including Western history, fine printing, mountaineering, aeronautics, Napoleon, and folk music. The main library is housed in a new $64 million building completed in 1995. Its interior includes a three-story atrium, and the Western History Room has a rotunda that measures 24 meters (80 feet) in diameter and affords an outstanding view of the Rocky Mountains.
Denver is home to a variety of museums, with collections in areas ranging from art to history to horticulture. The Denver Art Museum houses the world's premier collection of American Indian art, including artworks from all tribes. The facility, which celebrated its one-hundredth anniversary in 1993, is the largest art museum between Kansas City and the West Coast. Many of its holdings are exhibited in a way that highlights connections between different cultures and societies. The Black American West Museum and Heritage Center explores the role African Americans played in settling the West. Other museums with Western themes are Buffalo Bill's Grave and Museum, the Colorado History Museum, and the Museum of Western Art, which features works by artists including Georgia O'Keefe (1887–1986) and Frederic Remington (1861–1909). The Molly Brown House and Museum celebrates the life of this early feminist and heroine of the Titanic disaster. The museum is housed in a restored Victorian mansion that Brown purchased with her husband in 1894.
The Denver Museum of Natural History is the nation's fourth-largest natural history museum and displays 80 dioramas portraying animals from all over the world. It also has a notable dinosaur collection, a planetarium, and an IMAX theater. The Children's Museum of Denver is an interactive museum that offers a wide array of activities, including a computer lab and a grocery store. Denver's other museums include the Museo de las Americas (which focuses on Latin American history and culture), the Forney Transportation Museum, and the Mizel Museum of Judaica.
More than ten billion coins are struck at the U.S. Mint every year, and the basement has the second-largest storehouse of gold bullion in the nation after Fort Knox. The U.S. Mint has several public displays, including a real gold bar, and offers 30-minute tours that describe the coin-production process.
After an economic slowdown in the late 1980s, Denver had its highest hotel occupancy rate in eight years in 1997. The city has 5,200 hotel rooms within walking distance of the $125 million Colorado Convention Center. Opened in June 1990, the convention center has 9,300 square meters (100,000 square feet) of meeting space and a 3,255 square-meter (35,000 square-foot) ballroom. Altogether, Denver has 29,000 hotel rooms.
In late 1999 Denver voters approved a construction project that will double the size of the Colorado Convention Center by 2003, adding new exhibit and meeting space, a new ballroom, a new 5,000-seat auditorium, and a parking garage. The expansion will make the convention center the sixth largest west of the Mississippi and the fifteenth largest in the country.
Plans were also announced for major hotel expansion, with a 1,100-room Marriott hotel to be built across the street from the convention center and a new 659-room Hilton hotel to go up at the site of the Denver Executive Tower Hotel.
Denver Boat Show
National Western Stock Show & Rodeo
Blossoms of Lights
Denver Auto Show
Buffalo Bill's Birthday Celebration
Denver March Pow Wow
St. Patrick's Day Parade
Rocky Mountain Children's Book Festival
Bethesda Dutch Festival
Capitol Hill People's Fair
Cherry Blossom Festival
Greek Festival International Buskerfest
Cherry Creek Arts Festival
Colorado Indian Market & Western Art Roundup
Independence Day Celebration
Winter Park Jazz Festival
Theater in the Park
Colorado State Fair
Festival of Mountain & Plain: A Taste of Colorado
Boo at the Zoo
Colorado Performing Arts Festival
Denver International Film Festival
Great American Beer Festival
Spirits of the Past
Rocky Mountain Book Festival
Radio City Christmas Spectacular
World's Largest Christmas Lighting Display
First Night Colorado
Parade of Lights
Blossoms of Lights
21. Famous Citizens
Famous natives and residents of Denver include:
Feminist and Titanic heroine ("the unsinkable") Molly Brown (1867–1932).
Bandleader Paul Whiteman (1890–1967).
Former U.S. Senator Alan K. Simpson (b. 1931).
Actors Ward Bond (1903–1960), Douglas Fairbanks, Sr. (1883–1939), and Pat Hingle (b. 1923).
Actress Barbara Rush (b. 1927).
Comedian and actor Tim Allen (b. 1953).
Denver City Net. [Online] Available http://city.net/countries/united_states/colorado/denver (accessed November 29, 1999).
Denver City Pages. [Online] Available http://denver.thelinks.com/ (accessed November 29, 1999).
Denver Metro Convention and Visitors Bureau site. [Online] Available http://www.denver.rog/media/releases (accessed November 29, 1999).
Denver Online. [Online] Available http://www.denveronline.com (accessed November 29, 1999).
Denver City Hall
1437 Bannock St.
Denver, CO 80202
Denver, CO 80202
1437 Bannock St., Rm. 350
Denver, CO 80202
Tourist and Convention Bureaus
Colorado Convention Center
700 14th St.
Denver, CO 80202
Denver Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau
1555 California St., Suite 300
Denver, CO 80202
Denver Business Journal
Denver, CO 80290
Denver, CO 80202
Rocky Mountain News
400 W. Colfax Ave.
Denver, CO 80204
Alley, Jean, and Hartley Alley. Colorado Cycling Guide. Boulder: Pruett Publishing, 1990.
Caruso, Laura, and Robert Ebisch. 1st ed. The Insiders' Guide to Denver. Boulder: Boulder Publishing Co., 1997.
Denver: A Picture Book to Remember Her By. New York: Crescent Books, 1987.
Green, Stewart M. Walking Denver. Helena, MT: Falcon Pub., 1998.
Hornby, William H. Voice of Empire : A Centennial Sketch of The Denver Post. Denver: Colorado Historical Society, 1992.
Iversen, Kristen. Molly Brown: Unraveling the Myth. Foreword by Muffet Brown. Boulder: Johnson Books, 1999.
Leonard, Stephen, and Thomas J. Noel. Denver: Mining Camp to Metropolis. 1st ed. Niwot, CO: University Press of Colorado, 1990.
Ludmer, Larry. Colorado Guide. New York: Open Road Publishing, 1998.
Mar, M. Elaine. Paper Daughter: A Memoir. 1st ed. New York: HarperCollins, 1999.
Noel, Thomas J. Denver Landmarks and Historic District: A Pictorial Guide. Niwot, CO: University Press of Colorado, 1996.
Denver offers attractions ranging from historic Western landmarks to modern amusement parks. Downtown, the Colorado State Capitol features a 24-carat gold-plated dome; the 13th step of its stairway is set at the altitude of exactly one mile above sea level. A few blocks away is the United States Mint, where nearly a third of the nation's gold supply is stored. Larimer Square, Denver's first main street and a restored Victorian historical district, is an especially popular tourist site. Also downtown is Elitch Gardens, a year-round amusement park offering more than 26 thrill rides, formal gardens, restaurants, and shops. Across the river, Colorado's Ocean Journey, open and under renovation in 2005, combines the qualities of aquariums and sea life parks in an exciting interactive experience that is both fun and educational. The 80-acre Denver Zoo is a modern facility, housing more than 4,000 animals in natural environments; a highlight is a new exhibit featuring 14 African species and 50 animals in a natural and educational habitat called Predator Ridge. It has been listed as one of the 10 best zoos in the nation.
The area is filled with historic buildings, homes, and mansions that are open to the public. Many Denver neighborhoods retain a large part of their historical and architectural integrity, offering excellent examples of Victorian, Georgian, and Italianate styles. Popular tour sites in the area include the Coors Brewery in nearby Golden, the Denver Botanic Gardens, and Washington Park, a replica of President Washington's gardens at Mount Vernon. Several bus and guided walking tours of Denver are also available.
Arts and Culture
The arts are well supported in Denver, both in recently constructed facilities and elegant historically preserved buildings. The Denver Performing Arts Complex (PLEX), covering a four-block area, is an $80 million, architecturally stunning complex, second largest in the country behind New York's Lincoln Center, which offers almost every facet of the cultural world from Shakespearean drama to popular music. Many small theaters, galleries, and open-air exhibits can also be found throughout the city.
Denver enjoys a thriving performance community comprised of a number of theater and dance companies, as well as music and opera groups. Germinal Stage Denver, an avant-garde theater, stages five or six productions a year, and each summer the University of Colorado at Boulder sponsors a Shakespeare Festival. Dance in all its forms, from folk to ballet to modern, is performed frequently throughout the area. The Boettcher Concert Hall, considered one of the great music halls in the country, was the first symphony hall in the round in the United States, and is the home of the renowned Colorado Symphony Orchestra. Opera is presented by Opera Colorado; in 2005 Opera Colorado will be moving into its new home, the Ellie Caulkins Opera House.
The Colorado History Museum displays exhibitions highlighting the history of Colorado and the West with changing and permanent exhibits on Native Americans, miners, and other settlers. The Museum of Outdoor Arts is a unique museum without walls that showcases a blend of architecture, fine art, and landscaping. Offering a versatile collection of activities for children of all ages, the Children's Museum of Denver includes live theater, playscapes for children of all ages, a market, assembly plant, and a fire station.
The Denver Art Museum is an impressive seven-story structure containing more than 30,000 art objects; a highlight is the world's leading collection of Native American art. The Colorado Railroad Museum, housed in a replica of an 1880s depot, is considered to be one of the best privately supported rail museums in the United States. Also of interest is a Museum of Miniatures, Dolls and Toys and the Denver Firefighters Museum.
Festivals and Holidays
Denver schedules an abundance of festivals and special events throughout the year. The National Livestock Show and Rodeo, which has been called the "Super Bowl of cattle shows," occurs each January. It features nearly a month of western music performances, prize-winning livestock exhibitions, and rodeo events with the country's top rodeo stars. The show culminates with the award for Livestock's Man of the Year. From May through September, outdoor shows and musical events are held at Red Rocks and Fiddlers Green amphitheaters and at LoDo.
Other special events in Denver include the nation's second largest St. Patrick's Day parade in March, followed by the Littleton River Festival in May. The Colorado Renaissance Festival, a recreation of medieval England, takes place each weekend during June and July. The Colorado Indian Market, featuring the art, dances, food, and culture of native Americans, is held in January. Larimer Square is the site of the annual Oktoberfest.
Sports for the Spectator
Denver fields a professional team in almost every major sport. The Denver Broncos of the National Football League won back-to-back Super Bowls in 1998 and 1999. The team moved to Invesco Field at Mile High Stadium in 2001. The National Basketball Association's Nuggets have had several playoff successes. The Colorado Rockies National League Baseball team play home games at Coors Field. The Colorado Avalanche, Denver's National Hockey League team won the Stanley Cup in 2001. Denver area colleges and universities compete in a variety of sporting events. In 2004 a Sports Business Research Network report described Denver as the most loyal and enthusiastic of America's top 41 sports cities.
Auto racing takes place at the Colorado National Speedway, and for those who enjoy parimutuel betting, the greyhound races at the Mile High Kennel Club in Commerce City provide plenty of excitement. Denver is also a major stop on the National Rodeo Circuit.
Sports for the Participant
The nearby Rocky Mountains provide abundant opportunities for sports-minded individuals year round. In the winter, skiers from the world over come to try their luck on the famous slopes. Rock and mountain climbing, fly fishing in the clear mountain streams, white-water canoeing and rafting, and hiking through the splendid mountain vistas are among the most popular recreations in spring, summer, and fall.
A $45 million, 24-year project to clean up the stretch of the South Platte River that runs through Denver has resulted in bike paths and a series of 11 beautiful parks; man-made boat chutes provide kayaking and rafting opportunities, and the banks of the river are lined with picnic areas and wetlands. Denver County maintains more than 205 parks, 29 recreation centers, 14,000 acres of Denver Mountain Parks, and 2,500 acres of natural areas along with numerous baseball fields, basketball courts, and other sports venues. There are more than 75 public and private golf courses in the metropolitan area and several area lakes offering water skiing, sailing, swimming, and fishing.
Shopping and Dining
Denver's newest shopping venue, Colorado Mills, opened in 2004 and offers 200 new stores. In downtown, Denver Pavilions retail and entertainment center covers two square blocks in the heart of downtown Denver and features 34 stores, 6 restaurants, a nightclub, and 15 movie theaters. Flatiron Crossing opened in 2000 and offers indoor/outdoor shopping in 200 stores and a 14-theater movie complex. A variety of other shopping experiences can be found in Denver, ranging from small, specialized shops to large national outlet malls. The Sixteenth Street Mall, a sculptured pedestrian walkway stretching for over a mile in the downtown district, is lined with shops and restaurants. The recently revitalized Cherry Creek Shopping Center features upscale department stores and more than 160 specialty shops in an enclosed mall. The adjacent Cherry Creek Shopping District is known for its aesthetically appealing shops and galleries. With the success of Larimer Square, a renovated historical area of specialty stores, the entire lower downtown area is rapidly attracting unique shops, galleries, and restaurants. Denver's Tattered Cover Book Store has been hailed by The New York Times as "one of the truly great independent book stores in America."
Other interesting areas include Sakura Square, a group of Asian markets and art galleries; and Tivoli, a converted brewery that houses many shops, movie theaters, and some of Denver's finest restaurants. Park Meadows is a 1.5 million square foot shopping center located 12 miles south of the city; it is designed to resemble a mountain ski resort and is anchored by Nordstrom, Foley's, and Dillard's.
Denver is well known for its fine beefsteak and traditional Western fare, but a much wider range of dining experiences is also available at more than 2,000 restaurants, from fast food to haute cuisine. Area specialties include spicy Mexican dishes, local fish and game delicacies such as buffalo, elk, venison, and Rocky Mountain trout, and native Southwestern food. A large number of international and ethnic restaurants complete the dining choices. A favorite nighttime gathering spot is LoDo, or Lower Downtown, which has been transformed since the opening of nearby Coors Field from an industrial warehouse district into a thriving area of elegant restaurants and sports bars.
Visitor Information: Denver Metro Convention and Visitors Bureau, 1555 California, Suite 300, Denver, CO 80202; telephone (303)892-1112
Major Industries and Commercial Activity
Following record economic and population growth in the 1950s, Denver weathered reversals tied to the fluctuating petroleum market in the 1970s and 1980s. By the late 1980s the city had taken measures toward establishing a diversified economic base. Major companies in the Denver metropolitan area employ workers in a range of fields such as air transportation, telecommunications, aerospace, and manufacturing. The city is also a major energy research center and a regional headquarters for government agencies.
The financial and commercial capital of the Rocky Mountain region, Denver's downtown banking district—dubbed the "Wall Street of the Rockies"—consists of major national and international institutions. The city is the transportation hub for a large portion of the western United States; consumer and industrial goods are transported by air, rail, and truck through Denver to more than 30 million people annually. Denver is a Foreign Trade Zone, providing advantages to companies involved in international trade. To its advantage, the city's geographic position and location within the Mountain Time Zone make it the largest city in the United States to offer one-bounce satellite uplinks with real-time connections to 6 of 7 continents in one day.
Denver's central location—it is 346 miles west of the exact geographic center of the country—places it in an advantageous position for future economic development and growth. Analysts predict that the U.S. population is shifting south and west, with future concentration expected in the area from California to Utah and to the Gulf coast in Texas. Denver is at the center of this region; projections indicate that the city will become a high-technology research, development, and manufacturing hub for the entire Southwest.
Items and goods produced: computer storage and peripherals, beverages, mining and farming machinery, rubber goods, fabricated metals, chemicals and allied stone and clay products, western clothing, transportation equipment, scientific instruments, feed, flour, luggage
Incentive Programs—New and Existing Companies
The Mayor's Office of Economic Development & International Trade (MOED/IT) works to retain and create quality jobs, assists organizations in expansion or relocation, and provides a multitude of business development services. It promotes the city as a business location particularly for foreign companies and promotes Denver companies entering international markets. MOED/IT assists with financing, economic incentives, regulatory requirement assistance, and other services as needed. MOED/IT also administers the Denver Urban Enterprise Zone, which assists business with state tax credits for job creation. Together with the Colorado International Trade office, MOED/IT supports the Colorado/Denver Representative Office in London.
A variety of state and federal programs are available to assist business in relocating and expanding in Denver. Enterprise Zone Tax Credits and Manufacturing Revenue Bonds are among them. The State of Colorado's Business Retention and Expansion program helps smooth the path for area businesses by removing local or statewide barriers.
Job training programs
The Mayor's Office of Workforce Development offers the Colorado FIRST program which connects employment, job readiness, education, and training services into a network of resources at the local and state level. This system links Colorado's employers to a variety of qualified applicants and provides job-seekers with access to employment and training opportunities at six workforce training centers throughout the city as well as additional resources across the country. The menu of core services includes: career counseling and assessment, employer and job-seeker access to automated job postings, information on job trends, assistance in filing Unemployment Insurance claims, and help in finding federal, state, and city dollars to cover some or all of the costs of training opportunities.
The $4.3 billion Denver International Airport is one of the largest airports in the world; it is known for its aesthetics, aviation safety, customer satisfaction and passenger convenience and is the fifth busiest airport in America. The airport continues to spur significant hotel development nearby. The city has spent hundreds of millions of dollars on Denver's downtown, and has plans for future expansion of several museums, theaters, hotels, and government buildings as well as transportation facilities and parks. Invesco Field at Mile High, a $364 million, 76,000-seat stadium replaced Mile High Stadium as the home of the Denver Broncos in 2001; and in 2004 an expansion of the Denver Convention Center was unveiled.
Economic Development Information: Mayor's Office of Economic Development and International Trade, 201 W. Colfax, Dep 208, Denver, CO 80202; John Huggins, Director; telephone (720)913-1999; email [email protected]denver.co.us. Denver One Stop Career Center, 1391 N. Speer Blvd., Denver, CO 80204; telephone (720)865-5700; email [email protected]
Denver is the commercial transportation center for an eight-state area, providing a hub for two major rail freight companies, more than 160 motor freight carriers, and a number of air cargo services. With negotiated motor freight rates and the city's designation as a Free Trade Zone, Denver has created a competitive marketplace for the import and export of goods.
Labor Force and Employment Outlook
Employers in Denver choose from a highly educated labor pool. The city ranks second in the nation for the number of residents with bachelors degrees and 64 percent of residents age 24 and older have attended college. Local analysts predict a healthy economy, based on Denver's quality labor force, affordable cost of living, high quality of life, and low commercial lease rates. With a diverse employment base across many sectors, Denver is in a prime position for growth well into the twenty-first century.
The following is a summary of data regarding the Denver metropolitan area labor force, 2004 annual averages.
Size of non-agricultural labor force: 1,167,600
Number of workers employed in . . .
construction and mining: 86,200
trade, transportation and utilities: 233,000
financial activities: 98,500
professional services: 183,400
educational and health services: 116,500
leisure and hospitality: 118,100
other services: 44,700
Average hourly earnings of production workers employed in manufacturing: $16.89
Unemployment rate: 5.6% (January 2005)
|Largest private employers||Number of employees|
|King Soopers, Inc. (grocery stores)||7,800|
|Lockheed Martin (aerospace research/production)||7,700|
Cost of Living
The costs for housing and health care in Denver are somewhat above the national average, while the cost of utilities is substantially below the national average.
The following is a summary of data regarding key cost of living factors for the Denver area.
2004 (3rd Quarter) ACCRA Average House Price: $311,194
2004 (3rd Quarter) ACCRA Cost of Living Index: 104.8 (U.S. average = 100.0)
State income tax rate: 4.63%
State sales tax rate: 2.9%
Local income tax rate: (Occupational tax) $5.75 per month per employee for all workers who receive income greater than $500 a month
Local sales tax rate: ranges from 3.6% to 8.45% throughout the metro area
Property tax rate: In Colorado, the tax assessor first determines the actual value of a property, then applies the residential rate to get the assessed value. In 2004 the residential rate was 7.96%.
Economic Information: Metro Denver Chamber of Commerce, 1445 Market Street, Denver, CO 80202; telephone (303)620-8092; fax (303)534-3200
DENVER , capital of *Colorado, U.S.; also known as the "Mile High City" and "Queen City." Jews began settling in Denver, and elsewhere in Colorado, following the discovery of gold in 1858. While some Jews were afflicted with "gold fever," most saw economic opportunities in servicing those who streamed into the many new mining towns. By 1859, a dozen Jewish immigrants had arrived, originally from Germany and Central Europe; among them, the brothers Hyman and Fred Salomon, Leopold Mayer, and Abraham Jacobs.
In 1860, Denver's first Jewish organization, the Hebrew Burial and Prayer Society, was formed. It soon split into a B'nai B'rith lodge (1872), which is still active, and into Colorado's first synagogue, Temple Emanuel (Reform) (1874), today the State's largest Jewish house of worship. From these earliest efforts, the Jewish community grew in numbers, prosperity, and influence, creating organizations, synagogues, and institutions, many from necessity because of Denver's isolation from other American Jewish population centers.
While Denver's early Jewish settlers identified with Reform Judaism primarily, beginning in the 1880s, some 2.5 million (mostly traditionally religious) Jews emigrated from Eastern Europe to the United States. This migration changed the demographics of Denver. Many Orthodox Jews settled in Denver seeking a cure for tuberculosis, the "white plague." Two Jewish institutions were founded to respond to their needs and other sufferers of consumption from around the country. The National Jewish Hospital for Consumptives was opened in 1899. Its name was changed in 1985 to the *National Jewish Center for Immunology and Respiratory Medicine. It is now the National Jewish Medical and Research Center, with a worldwide reputation in the research and treatment of allergy and pulmonary diseases. The Jewish Consumptives Relief Society was established just outside of Denver in 1904 to serve the religious needs of suffering Orthodox Jews. In 1955, it changed its mission to other medical purposes.
In 1882, a farming colony of East European Orthodox Jews was settled by the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society in Cotopaxi, Colorado. The experiment failed, with the immigrants moving to the West Side of Denver and founding its Orthodox community there. It established synagogues, mikva'ot (ritual baths), Jewish educational institutions, and a Yiddish theater. Descendants of many of the Cotopaxi families still occupy leadership positions in the community. Reform Jews, on the other hand, gravitated to the East Side of Denver, first to the Curtis Park area, then to Capitol Hill and Hilltop, where Temple Emanuel relocated in 1956. Emanuel founded Shwayder Camp in the Colorado Rockies in 1948.
Denver became a temporary haven for Yiddish poets who suffered from tuberculosis. Yehoash was treated from 1900–1910; H. Leivick, from 1932–33 and 1934–35. A legendary figure was Dr. Charles Spivak, long time director of the Jewish Consumptive Relief Society, a major figure in Yiddish and Jewish cultural life, and a founder of the Intermountain Jewish News in 1913. Rabbi Judah Leib Ginsburg, an immigrant from Dvinsk, Latvia, wrote and published major Hebrew works on the Bible and Mishnah in Denver. Max Goldberg became the leading figure in media in mid-20th century Denver. He brought network television to Colorado, pioneered in talk televison, wrote for the Denver Post and published the Intermountain Jewish News.
By the 1970s, when the Jewish population had reached 40,000, many Jews began dispersing to Denver's suburbs, but continued to utilize the many institutions they had established on both sides of the city. Among these were the Hebrew Educational Alliance (1920), Yeshiva Toras Chaim (1967), and Beth Jacob High School for Girls (1968) on the West Side; and, on the East Side, Beth HaMedrosh Hagadol Congregation (1897) and Beth Joseph Congregation (1922), which merged in 1997; Hillel Academy (1951); and Temple Sinai (1967). The Allied Jewish Federation of Colorado was organized as the Allied Jewish Council in 1942; the Jewish Family Service (so named in 1990) dates back to 1887; and Green Gables Country Club (1928) and the Jewish Community Center (1948) provide a social outlet for Denver Jews.
In the latter quarter of the 20th century, Dr. Stanley M. Wagner founded the Center for Judaic Studies at the University of Denver (1975) and its affiliates, the Rocky Mountain Jewish Historical Society, Beck Archives and the Holocaust Awareness Institute, and the Mizel Museum (of Judaica, originally) (1982). Shalom Park (1992), a state of the art Jewish nursing home and assisted living facility, was an outgrowth of the Beth Israel Hospital and old age home on the West Side (founded in 1905). The Denver Campus for Jewish Education (2002) merged Herzl Jewish Day School (1975) and the Rocky Mountain Hebrew Academy (1979).
Denver became the focus of a widespread controversy in Jewish life in 1983. The Intermountain Jewish News published a 12-page supplement, edited by Rabbi Hillel Goldberg. The supplement reported that the Rocky Mountain Rabbinical Council, composed of Reform, Conservative, Reconstructionist, and Orthodox rabbis, had discontinued a joint conversion program (established six years earlier). The program processed hundreds of converts, attempting to avoid a schism in the Jewish community. Personal and ideological factors brought its demise. Most Orthodox authorities around the world rejected the halakhic basis of the program despite a ruling from the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem supporting it. Some Reform and Conservative Rabbis throughout the country also opposed the idea of having to send converts to an exclusively Orthodox Beth Din. A number of years later, in January 1998, the Ne'eman Commission, established by the Israeli government to create a conversion process acceptable to all wings of Judaism, embraced a variation of the Denver program. Still, attempts to revive it failed.
Among the many persons who figured prominently in Denver Jewish history were Golda *Meir, who came to Denver in 1913, where she met her future husband, Morris Myerson; Sheldon K. Beren, an oilman, philanthropist and national president of Torah Umesorah; and Ruth M. Handler, creator of the Barbie Doll. Notable rabbis were Rabbi William S. Friedman, who served Congregation Emanuel, 1889-1938; Rabbi Charles E. H. Kauvar, who filled the Beth HaMedrosh Hagadol pulpit, 1902-1971; and Rabbi Manuel Laderman at the Hebrew Educational Alliance, 1932–1979. Jews were also active in the political life of the community. Wolfe Londoner became Denver's only Jewish mayor in 1889, Philip Winn became ambassador to Switzerland in 1986, and Larry Mizel and Norman Brownstein are major influences in, respectively, Republican and Democratic politics nationally. Robert Lazar Miller, Jesse Shwayder, A. B. Hirschfeld, and Louis Robinson, and their descendants, have been highly visible in the business community for generations. The "mother of Jewish charity work" was Francis Wisebart *Jacobs, whose portrait in a stained glass window graces the Colorado Hall of Fame in the rotunda of the State Capitol.
I.L.Uchill, Pioneers, Pioneers, Peddlers and Tsadikim (1957); A.D. Breck, Centennial History of the Jews of Colorado, 1859–1959 (1960), P. Goodstein, Exploring Jewish Colorado (1992); J. Abrams (ed.), A Colorado Jewish Family Album 1859–1992 (1992); S.G. Freedman, Jew vs. Jew (2000), J. Abrams (ed.), Rocky Mountain Jewish Historical Notes (1986– ); Intermountain Jewish News (1913– ).
[Stanley M. Wagner (2nd ed.)]
DENVER. A consolidated city and county and the capital of Colorado, Denver grew from 467,610 people in 1990 to 554,636 in 2000. In the latter year there were more than two million additional people in the metropolitan area counties of Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Douglas, Jefferson, and Weld. Some 32 percent of the core city population is Hispanic, the fastest-growing ethnic group. About 11 percent are African American, 3 percent Asian American, and 1 percent Native American. Denver has elected a Hispanic mayor, Federico F. Pena (1983–1991) and an African American mayor, Wellington E. Webb (1991–). Local lumber being scarce, Denver is characterized
by brick buildings. Even in the poorest residential neighborhoods, single-family detached housing prevails, reflecting the western interest in "elbow room" and the city's location on a spacious, flat high-plains site where sprawling growth is unimpeded by any large body of water. Geography makes the Mile High City, at an altitude of 5,280 feet, dry with only fourteen inches of precipitation per year and sunny for about three hundred days a year. It is, however, subject to dramatic temperature changes.
Denver was founded in 1858 by participants in the first Colorado gold rush and experienced its first significant growth with the development of mining around Idaho Springs and Central City in the adjacent mountains. Town site promoter William Larimer named the city for the governor of Kansas Territory, of which eastern Colorado was then a part. Rivalry with the nearby city of Golden was decided in Denver's favor by virtue of the permanent location of the Colorado capital there and its superior rail connections. Denver's economy surged again with the expansion of silver mining in the Rockies, particularly at Leadville after 1878. Denver was the supply center for the mines and also developed a major smelting industry. The expansion of stock raising and then agriculture on the Colorado plains from the 1870s onward further diversified the city's economy as the capital of the Rocky Mountain Empire. By 1890 Denver had become a city of more than 100,000 residents with a prominent economic elite, a growing middle class, and an active labor movement. During the early decades of the twentieth century, Robert Speer dominated Denver politics as mayor from 1904 to 1912 and again from 1916 to 1918. Speer
brought immigrant neighborhoods, vice interests, and local business leaders together in a powerful political machine but also worked to beautify the city and to modernize municipal services. He was an important impetus behind the development of the Civic Center complex below the state capitol. One of the best examples of City Beautiful planning, the Civic Center has continued to attract public buildings and cultural institutions. Denver's growth slowed in the 1920s and 1930s, but it revived as an important war production center during World War II and benefited from the expansion of federal agencies serving the mountain West.
The 1970s energy boom in the northern Rockies, for which Denver was the business center, produced fifty-story high-rise office towers downtown and a proliferation of suburban subdivisions, shopping malls, and a second office core in the suburban Denver Tech Center. Dependence on nonrenewable natural resources as an underpinning of its economy, however, returned to haunt the city during the 1980s oil bust. When the price of crude oil dropped from thirty-nine dollars to nine dollars a barrel, Denver briefly went into a depression, losing population and experiencing the highest office vacancy rate in the nation. A large federal service center, augmented by state and local government jobs, provided some stability. Mining and agriculture, the traditional local economic base, were replaced by service industries, tourism, and electronic, computer, and cable telecommunications, the latter a boom industry of the 1980s and 1990s. No-table institutions include the Denver Museum of Natural History, the Colorado History Museum, the Denver Art Museum, the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, the Denver Public Library, and a major branch of the U.S. Mint. Denver is also home to major league basketball, football, and baseball teams; Coors Field, home of the Colorado Rockies baseball club since 1995, helped to spark substantial residential and commercial reinvestment in the core districts. Handgun violence and crime, as well as smog and traffic congestion, were among the city's principal problems. As one of the most isolated major cities in the United States, Denver has from its beginnings focused on building—some have said overbuilding—transportation systems. Fear of being bypassed began when railroads and airlines avoided Denver because of the fourteen-thousand-foot Rocky Mountains barrier. In the first half of the 1990s, Denver built an outer ring of freeways, began a light rail system, and opened the fifty-three-square-mile Denver International Airport, the nation's largest airport in terms of area and capacity for growth.
Abbott, Carl, Stephen J. Leonard, and David McComb. Colorado: A History of the Centennial State. Niwot: University Press of Colorado, 1994.
Leonard, Stephen J., and Thomas J. Noel. Denver: Mining Camp to Metropolis. Niwot: University Press of Colorado, 1990.
Discovery of Gold Brings Settlers to Denver Area
For centuries, the mountains and plains of Colorado were used as hunting grounds by Native Americans, and eventually the more sophisticated, agricultural tribes like the Anasazi established villages. In the sixteenth century, the Spanish explored the region where Denver is now located, but no Europeans established permanent settlements until the mid-1800s, when gold was discovered at Pikes Peak. In 1858, a supply center for the mining towns was established on the site of a tribal village at the junction of the South Platte River and Cherry Creek. The town was called St. Charles; later it was renamed Denver City after James W. Denver, governor of the Kansas Territory, and was incorporated in 1861.
The gold boom soon ended, but some of the fortune hunters stayed on to settle in the new town. During the 1860s, much of the town was destroyed by fire; a ravaging flash flood killed 20 people; and the citizens repelled frequent attacks from the Plains tribes and even an assault by a Confederate Army. With the arrival of rail transportation in 1870 a steady influx of settlers insured the future of the thriving town, and when Colorado attained statehood in 1876, Denver was named the state capital. By 1879 it boasted a population of 35,000 people and the first telephone service in the West.
Silver Boom and Bust; Economy Diversifies
A silver boom in the 1880s ushered in another period of rapid growth, filling Denver with the Victorian mansions of silver barons and making it the most elegant city in the West. The collapse of the silver market in the panic of 1893 staggered the city's economy, so the city began to diversify. By the early 1900s, Denver had become the commercial and industrial center of the Rocky Mountain region, as well as a leader in livestock sales, agriculture, and tourism.
Denver sustained a period of relatively slow development until the 1930s. Prior to World War II, when such federal government agencies as the Geological Survey, the U.S. Mint, Lowry Air Force Base, the Bureau of Land Management, and the Air Force Accounting Center were established in the area, Denver experienced another population surge that continued through the 1950s. During the 1960s Denver lost population as residents moved to the suburbs to escape inner city deterioration. Growth slowed again in the mid-1970s as a result of the oil industry crisis. The effects of this downturn, however, were ultimately positive. As a result of efforts to diversify the economy, Denver became known as "the energy capital of the west," with a focus on alternative energy sources such as solar and wind power. In fact, by 1980 approximately 1,200 energy companies were located in Denver.
Growth slowed again in the mid-1980s when plans for oil shale development were curtailed; construction of high-rise office buildings downtown nevertheless continued unabated. A sleek, modern landscape has emerged in Denver where a Western frontier town once stood. As Denver entered the twenty-first century, it reflected the economic downturn due to the high-tech industry but has since stabilized and strengthened to remain the principal commercial, financial, and industrial hub of the Rocky Mountain region.
Denver, city (1990 pop. 467,610), alt. 5,280 ft (1,609 m), state capital, coextensive with Denver co., N central Colo., on a plateau at the foot of the Front Range of the Rocky Mts., along the South Platte River where Cherry Creek meets it; est. 1858 and named after James W. Denver, inc. 1861. The largest Colorado city, it is a processing, shipping, and distribution point for an extensive agricultural area. It is also the financial, business, administrative, and transportation center of the Rocky Mt. region (the
), and home to numerous federal agencies. The Denver area has many electronics plants and is a major livestock market and headquarters to mining companies; leading manufactures include aeronautical, telecommunications, and other high-technology products. With ski and mountain resorts, national parks, and frontier historical sites nearby, Denver is also an important tourist center.
Among the city's educational institutions are the Univ. of Denver, Regis Univ., and the Univ. of Colorado medical school. Points of interest include a park system incorporating many mountain areas; the Denver Art Museum; the Colorado State Historical Museum; the Denver Museum of Natural History; the Black American West Museum; the Clyfford Still Museum; the Denver Performing Arts Complex; the state capitol; a U.S. Mint; Mile High Stadium, home of the Broncos (football); Coors Field, home of the Colorado Rockies (baseball); the Pepsi Center, home of the Nuggets (basketball) and Avalanche (hockey); and zoological gardens. The former Rocky Mountain Arsenal has become a national wildlife refuge.
Denver was made territorial capital in 1867. Gold and silver strikes in the 1870s–80s brought prosperity, and the city became the capital of bonanza kings such as H. A. W. Tabor. In the late 1890s, Denver's development as a metropolis began. After World War II, during which military bases brought development, Denver experienced rapid growth; this, combined with the city's high elevation, led to environmental problems, and by the late 1970s Denver had one of the worst U.S. smog problems.
Denver boomed again in the late 1970s as a center of oil shale exploration, and many new office buildings were erected in anticipation of further growth. When oil prices fell in the 1980s, the city was hard hit economically, and population loss to its booming suburbs accelerated. By the 1990s, however, international and government-related business and tourism had brought another boom. The city added a light-rail transit system in 1994, and a huge new international airport opened to the northeast in 1995. By the late 1990s the Denver region, after concerted efforts to improve air quality, had significantly reduced the level of air pollution.
See S. W. Zamonski, Fifty-Niners: A Denver Diary (1961); L. W. Dorsett, The Queen City: A History of Denver (1986); G. Barth, Instant Cities: Urbanization and the Rise of San Francisco and Denver (1988).
Denver: Education and Research
Denver: Education and Research
Elementary and Secondary Schools
The Denver Public School system is directed by a seven-member board of education that administers policy and establishes direction. The Denver public schools provide programs for slow and gifted learners, college preparation, and career training. The four goals of the system are literacy, school readiness, school-to-career, and neighborhood centers.
The following is a summary of data regarding Denver's public schools as of the 2003–2004 school year.
Total enrollment: 72,489
Number of facilities
elementary schools: 90
middle schools: 20
senior high schools: 14
Student/teacher ratio: 25:1
Teacher salaries average: $52,271
Funding per pupil: $5,739 (2001-2002)
The metropolitan area is served by 19 other public school districts and numerous private and parochial institutions, including the Colorado Academy and St. Mary's Academy for Girls.
Public Schools Information: Denver Public Schools, 900 Grant Street, Denver, CO 80203; telephone (720)423-3411; email [email protected]
Colleges and Universities
The metropolitan Denver area supports 10 four-year colleges and universities and 5 two-year and community colleges with a combined enrollment of more than 125,000 students. The University of Denver Daniels School of Business has been ranked 9th in the Wall Street Journal regional business school rankings (2004). A wide variety of undergraduate degrees and numerous graduate and professional degrees are offered along with the opportunity to study at several excellent research institutions. Non-traditional education is well represented by such institutions as the Colorado Free University, which has an open admissions policy. More than 60 vocational and technical schools serve the region.
Libraries and Research Centers
Denver's Central Library underwent expansion in the mid-1990s to its current square footage of 540,000. The addition houses the Children's Library, the Burnham Hoyt Room popular adult library, and Marietta Baron Teen Space. The Denver Public Library maintains 22 branches and a bookmobile and holds more than 2.5 million books, periodicals, subscriptions, microforms, and audiovisual materials, plus 2.2 million government publications.
The Denver area boasts almost 90 other public, special interest, and research libraries. Among them are the Colorado Talking Book Library, the Denver Medical Library, the University of Colorado Law Library, and many high-technology and university-related libraries.
Research activities in such fields as environmental sciences, allergy and immunology, biochemical genetics, health services, mass spectrometry, biochemical parasitology, alcohol, taste and smell, sports sciences, applied mechanics, public management, social science, mineral law, mass communications, family studies, the Holocaust, Islamic-Judaic studies, and international relations are conducted at centers in the Denver area.
Public Library Information: Denver Public Library, 10 West Fourteenth Avenue Parkway, Denver, CO 80204-2731; telephone (720)865-1111
Denver: Population Profile
Denver: Population Profile
Metropolitan Area Residents (PMSA)
Percent change, 1990–2000: 29.9%
U.S. rank in 1980: 21st
U.S. rank in 1990: 22nd
U.S. rank in 2000: 19th
2003 estimate: 557,478
Percent change, 1990–2000: -18.6%
U.S. rank in 1980: 24th
U.S. rank in 1990: 26th (State rank: 1st)
U.S. rank in 2000: 31st (State rank: 1st)
Density: 3,616.7 people per square mile (2000)
Racial and ethnic characteristics (2000)
Black or African American: 61,149
American Indian and Alaska Native: 7,290
Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander: 648
Hispanic or Latino (may be of any race): 175,704
Percent of residents born in state: 40.1%
Age characteristics (2000)
Population under 5 years old: 37,769
Population 5 to 9 years old: 34,473
Population 10 to 14 years old: 31,315
Population 15 to 19 years old: 32,259
Population 20 to 24 years old: 45,534
Population 25 to 34 years old: 113,676
Population 35 to 44 years old: 86,420
Population 45 to 54 years old: 71,000
Population 55 to 59 years old: 22,573
Population 60 to 64 years old: 17,191
Population 65 to 74 years old: 30,643
Population 75 to 84 years old: 23,369
Population 85 years and over: 8,414
Median age: 33.1 years
Births: (2003, Denver County)
Total number: 10,365
Deaths (2003, Denver County)
Total number: 4,321 (of which, 72 were infants under the age of 1 year)
Money income (1999)
Per capita income: $24,101
Median household income: $39,500
Total households: 239,235
Number of households with income of . . .
less than $10,000: 24,286
$10,000 to $14,999: 15,173
$15,000 to $24,999: 31,541
$25,000 to $34,999: 34,121
$35,000 to $49,999: 41,136
$50,000 to $74,999: 43,712
$75,000 to $99,999: 21,836
$100,000 to $149,999: 16,662
$150,000 to $199,999: 4,912
$200,000 or more: 6,036
Percent of families below poverty level: 10.6% (42.0% of which were female householder families with related children under 5 years)
2002 FBI Crime Index Total: 32,132
Denver: Geography and Climate
Denver: Population Profile
Denver: Municipal Government
Denver: Education and Research
Denver: Health Care
Denver: Convention Facilities
The City in Brief
Founded: 1858 (incorporated, 1861)
Head Official: Mayor John W. Hickenlooper (D) (since 2003)
2003 estimate: 557,748
Percent change, 1990–2000: 18.6%
U.S. rank in 1980: 24th
U.S. rank in 1990: 26th
U.S. rank in 2000: 31st
Metropolitan Area Population (PMSA)
Percent change, 1990–2000: 29.9%
U.S. rank in 1980: 21st (PMSA)
U.S. rank in 1990: 22nd (MSA)
U.S. rank in 2000: 19th (MSA)
Area: 153 square miles (2000)
Elevation: 5,332 feet above sea level
Average Annual Temperature: 50.0° F
Average Annual Precipitation: 15.81 inches
Major Economic Sectors: Communications, utilities, transportation
Unemployment Rate: 5.6% (January 2005)
Per Capita Income: $24,101 (1999)
2002 FBI Crime Index Total: 32,132
Major Colleges and Universities: University of Denver, Metropolitan State University, University of Colorado at Denver
Daily Newspapers: The Denver Post; Rocky Mountain News