| United States|
155 sq mi
November 17, 1858, as Denver City, K.T.
Michael Hancock (D)
| Denver Museum of Nature and Science, Denver Botanic Gardens, Sports Authority Field at Mile High, Coors Field, Downtown Aquarium - Denver|
University of Denver, University of Colorado Denver, Metropolitan State University of Denver, Regis University, Community College of Denver
The City and County of Denver ( Arapaho: Niineniiniiciihehe) is the capital and most populous municipality of the U.S. state of Colorado. As of 2014, Denver is also the most populous county in Colorado. Denver is located in the South Platte River Valley on the western edge of the High Plains just east of the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains. The Denver downtown district is located immediately east of the confluence of Cherry Creek with the South Platte River, approximately 12 miles (19 km) east of the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. Denver is nicknamed the Mile-High City because its official elevation is exactly one mile (5,280 feet or 1,609.344 meters) above sea level, making it one of the highest major cities in the United States. The 105th meridian west of Greenwich, the longitudinal reference for the Mountain Time Zone, passes directly through Denver Union Station.
Denver is ranked as a beta world city by the Globalization and World Cities Research Network. With a 2013 estimated population of 649,495, Denver ranks as the 22nd-most populous U.S. city. The 10-county Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO Metropolitan Statistical Area had an estimated 2013 population of 2,697,476 and ranked as the 21st most populous U.S. metropolitan statistical area. The 12-county Denver-Aurora, CO Combined Statistical Area had an estimated 2013 population of 3,277,309, which ranks as the 16th most populous U.S. metropolitan area. Denver is the most populous city of the Front Range Urban Corridor, an oblong urban region stretching across two states with population of 5,467,633 in 2010. Denver is the most populous city within a 500-mile (800 km) radius and the most populous city in the Mountain West and the third-most populous city in the Southwestern United States after Phoenix, Arizona and El Paso, Texas. Its metropolitan population is the second-largest in the Southwest after that of Phoenix.
Denver City was founded in November 1858 as a mining town during the Pikes Peak Gold Rush in western Kansas Territory. That summer, a group of gold prospectors from Lawrence, Kansas, had arrived and established Montana City on the banks of the South Platte River. This was the first settlement in what was later to become the city of Denver. The site faded quickly, however, and by the summer of 1859 it was abandoned in favor of Auraria (named after the gold mining town of Auraria, Georgia), and St. Charles City.
On November 22, 1858, General William Larimer, a land speculator from eastern Kansas Territory, placed cottonwood logs to stake a claim on the bluff overlooking the confluence of the South Platte River and Cherry Creek, across the creek from the existing mining settlement of Auraria, and on the site of the existing townsite of St. Charles. Larimer named the town site Denver City to curry favor with Kansas Territorial Governor James W. Denver. Larimer hoped that the towns name would help make it the county seat of Arapaho County, but unknown to him Governor Denver had already resigned from office. The location was accessible to existing trails and was across the South Platte River from the site of seasonal encampments of the Cheyenne and Arapaho. The site of these first towns is now the site of Confluence Park near downtown Denver. Larimer, along with associates in the St. Charles City Land Company, sold parcels in the town to merchants and miners, with the intention of creating a major city that would cater to new emigrants. Denver City was a frontier town, with an economy based on servicing local miners with gambling, saloons, livestock and goods trading. In the early years, land parcels were often traded for grubstakes or gambled away by miners in Auraria. In May 1859, Denver City residents donated 53 lots to the Leavenworth & Pikes Peak Express in order to secure the regions first overland wagon route. Offering daily service for "passengers, mail, freight, and gold," the Express reached Denver on a trail that trimmed westward travel time from twelve days to six. In 1863, Western Union furthered Denvers dominance of the region by choosing the city for its regional terminus.
The Colorado Territory was created on February 28, 1861, Arapahoe County was formed on November 1, 1861, and Denver City was incorporated on November 7, 1861. Denver City served as the Arapahoe County Seat from 1861 until consolidation in 1902. In 1867, Denver City became the Territorial Capital. With its new-found importance, Denver City shortened its name to Denver. On August 1, 1876, Colorado was admitted to the Union.
Although by the close of the 1860s, Denver residents could look with pride at their success establishing a vibrant supply and service center, the decision to route the nations first transcontinental railroad through Cheyenne, rather than Denver, threatened the prosperity of the young town. A daunting 100 miles away, citizens mobilized to build a railroad to connect Denver to the transcontinental railroad. Spearheaded by visionary leaders including Territorial Governor John Evans, David Moffat, and Walter Cheesman, fundraising began. Within three days, $300,000 had been raised, and citizens were optimistic. Fundraising stalled before enough was raised, forcing these visionary leaders to take control of the debt-ridden railroad. Despite challenges, on June 24, 1870, citizens cheered as the Denver Pacific completed the link to the transcontinental railroad, ushering in a new age of prosperity for Denver.
Finally linked to the rest of the nation by rail, Denver prospered as a service and supply center. The young city grew during these years, attracting millionaires with their mansions, as well as the poverty and crime of a rapidly growing city. Denver citizens were proud when the rich chose Denver and were thrilled that Horace Tabor, the Leadville mining millionaire, built an impressive business block at 16th and Larimer as well as the elegant Tabor Grand Opera House. Luxurious hotels, including the much-loved Brown Palace Hotel, soon followed, as well as splendid homes for millionaires like the Croke, Patterson, Campbell Mansion at 11th and Pennsylvania and the now-demolished Moffat Mansion at 8th and Grant. Intent on transforming Denver into one of the worlds great cities, leaders wooed industry and enticed laborers to work in these factories. Soon, in addition to the elite and a large middle class, Denver had a growing population of German, Italian, and Chinese laborers, soon followed by African-Americans and Spanish-surname workers. Unprepared for this influx, the Silver Crash of 1893 unsettled political, social, and economic balances, laying the foundation for ethnic bigotry, such as the Red Scare and the rise of the Ku Klux Klan, as well as corruption and crime.
Between 1880 and 1895 the city experienced a huge rise in corruption, as crime bosses, such as Soapy Smith, worked side by side with elected officials and the police to control elections, gambling, and the bunko gangs. The city also experienced a depression in 1893 after the crash of silver prices. In 1887, the precursor to the international charity United Way was formed in Denver by local religious leaders who raised funds and coordinated various charities to help Denvers poor. By 1890, Denver had grown to be the second-largest city west of Omaha, Nebraska, but by 1900 it had dropped to third place behind San Francisco and Los Angeles. In 1900, whites represented 96.8% of Denvers population.
In 1901, the Colorado General Assembly voted to split Arapahoe County into three parts: a new consolidated City and County of Denver, a new Adams County, and the remainder of the Arapahoe County to be renamed South Arapahoe County. A ruling by the Colorado Supreme Court, subsequent legislation, and a referendum delayed the creation of the City and County of Denver until November 15, 1902.
Denver has hosted the Democratic National Convention twice, during the years of 1908, and again in 2008, taking the opportunity to promote the citys status on the national, political, and socioeconomic stage.
Early in the 20th century, Denver, like many other cities, was home to a pioneering Brass Era car company. The Colburn Automobile Company made cars copied from the contemporary Renault.
From 1953 to 1989, the Rocky Flats Plant, a DOE nuclear weapon facility formerly located about 15 miles from Denver, produced fissile plutonium "pits" for nuclear warheads. A major fire at the facility in 1957, as well as leakage from nuclear waste stored at the site between 1958 and 1968, resulted in the contamination of some parts of Denver, to varying degrees, with plutonium-239, a harmful radioactive substance with a half-life of 24,200 years. A study by the Jefferson County health director, Dr. Carl Johnson, in 1981 linked the contamination to an increase in birth defects and cancer incidence in central Denver and nearer Rocky Flats. Later studies confirmed many of his findings. Plutonium contamination was still present outside the former plant site as of August 2010, and presents risks to building the envisioned Jefferson Parkway, which would complete Denvers automotive beltway.
Denver was selected in 1970 to host the 1976 Winter Olympics to coincide with Colorados centennial celebration, but in November 1972 Colorado voters struck down ballot initiatives allocating public funds to pay for the high costs of the games, which were subsequently moved to Innsbruck, Austria. The notoriety of becoming the only city ever to decline to host an Olympiad after being selected has made subsequent bids difficult. The movement against hosting the games was based largely on environmental issues and was led by State Representative Richard Lamm, who was subsequently elected to three terms (1975–87) as Colorado governor. Denver explored a potential bid for the 2022 Winter Olympics, but no bid will be submitted. In 2010, Denver adopted a comprehensive update of its zoning code. The new zoning was developed to guide development as envisioned in adopted plans such as Blueprint Denver, Transit Oriented Development Strategic Plan, Greenprint Denver, and the Strategic Transportation Plan.
Denver has also been known historically as the Queen City of the Plains and the Queen City of the West, because of its important role in the agricultural industry of the high-plains region in eastern Colorado and along the foothills of the Colorado Front Range. Several US Navy ships have been named USS Denver in honor of the city.
Denver is located in the center of the Front Range Urban Corridor, between the Rocky Mountains to the west and the High Plains to the east. Denvers topography consists of plains in the city center with hilly areas to the north, west and south. According to the United States Census Bureau the city has a total area of 155 square miles (401 km2), of which 153 square miles (396 km2) is land and 1.6 square miles (4.1 km2) (1.1%) is water. The City and County of Denver is surrounded by only three other counties: Adams County to the north and east, Arapahoe County to the south and east, and Jefferson County to the west.
Although Denvers nickname is the "Mile-High City" because its official elevation is one mile above sea level, defined by the elevation of the spot of a benchmark on the steps of the State Capitol building, the elevation of the entire city ranges from 5,130 to 5,690 feet (1,560 to 1,730 m). According to Geographic Names Information System (GNIS) and the National Elevation Dataset, the citys elevation is 5,278 feet (1,609 m), which is reflected on various websites such as that of the National Weather Service.
The Denver MSA has a gross metropolitan product of $157.6 billion in 2010, making it the 18th largest metro economy in the United States. Denvers economy is based partially on its geographic position and its connection to some of the major transportation systems of the country. Because Denver is the largest city within 500 miles (800 km), it has become a natural location for storage and distribution of goods and services to the Mountain States, Southwest states, as well as all western states. Another benefit for distribution is that Denver is nearly equidistant from large cities of the Midwest, such as Chicago and St. Louis and some large cities of the West Coast, such as Los Angeles and San Diego.
Apollo Hall opened quickly after the citys founding in 1859 and staged many plays for eager settlers. In the 1880s Horace Tabor built Denvers first Opera House. After the start of the 20th century, city leaders embarked on a city beautification program that created many of the citys parks, parkways, museums, and the Municipal Auditorium, which was home to the 1908 Democratic National Convention and is now known as the Ellie Caulkins Opera House. Denver and the metropolitan areas around it continued to support culture. In 1988, voters in the Denver Metropolitan Area approved the Scientific and Cultural Facilities Tax (commonly known as SCFD), a 1 cent sales tax that contributes money to various cultural and scientific facilities and organizations throughout the Metro area. The tax was renewed by voters in 1994 and 2004 and allows the SCFD to operate until 2018.
Denver is home to many nationally recognized museums, including a new wing for the Denver Art Museum by world-renowned architect Daniel Libeskind, the second largest Performing Arts Center in the nation after Lincoln Center in New York City and bustling neighborhoods such as LoDo, filled with art galleries, restaurants, bars and clubs. That is part of the reason why Denver was recently recognized for the third year in a row as the best city for singles. Denvers neighborhoods also continue their influx of diverse people and businesses while the citys cultural institutions grow and prosper. The city acquired the estate of abstract expressionist painter Clyfford Still in 2004 and built a museum to exhibit his works near the Denver Art Museum. The Denver Museum of Nature and Science currently holds an aquamarine specimen valued at over one million dollars, as well as specimens of the state mineral, rhodochrosite. Every September the Denver Mart, located at 451 E. 58th Avenue hosts a gem and mineral show. The state history museum, History Colorado Center, opened in April 2012. It features hands-on and interactive exhibits, artifacts and programs about Colorado history. It was named in 2013 by True West Magazine as one of the top-ten "must see" history museums in the country. History Colorados Byers-Evans House Museum and the Molly Brown House are nearby.
Denver has numerous art districts around the city, including Denvers Art District on Santa Fe and the River North Art District (RiNo).
While Denver may not be as recognized for historical musical prominence as some other American cities, it still manages to have a very active pop, jazz, jam, folk, and classical music scene, which has nurtured several artists and genres to regional, national, and even international attention. Of particular note is Denvers importance in the folk scene of the 1960s and 1970s. Well-known folk artists such as Bob Dylan, Judy Collins and John Denver lived in Denver at various points during this time, and performed at local clubs. Also, three members of the widely popular group Earth, Wind, and Fire are from Denver. More recent Denver-based artists include The Lumineers, Air Dubai, The Fray, Flobots, Cephalic Carnage, Axe Murder Boyz, Deuce Mob, and Five Iron Frenzy.
Because of its proximity to the mountains, and generally sunny weather, Denver has gained a reputation as being a very active, outdoor oriented city. Many Denver residents spend the weekends in the mountains; either skiing in the winter or hiking, climbing, kayaking and camping in the summer.
Additionally, Denver and the surrounding cities of the Front Range are home to a large number of local and national breweries. Many restaurants in the region have on-site breweries, and some of the larger brewers, including Coors and the New Belgium Brewing Company, offer tours. The city also welcomes visitors from around the world when it hosts the annual Great American Beer Festival each fall.
Denver used to be a major trading center for beef and livestock when ranchers would drive (or later transport) cattle to the Denver Union Stockyards for sale. As a celebration of that history, each year for more than a century, Denver hosts the National Western Stock Show, attracting as many as 10,000 animals and 700,000 attendees. The National Western Stock Show is held every January at the National Western Complex, northeast of downtown.
Denver hosts four large Mexican American celebrations: Cinco de Mayo (with over 500,000 attendees), in May, El Grito de la Independencia, in September, the annual Lowrider show, and the Dia De Los Muertos art shows/events in North Denvers Highland neighborhood, and the Lincoln Park neighborhood in the original section of West Denver.
Denver is also famous for its dedication to New Mexican cuisine and the Chile. Its best known for its Green and Red Chile sauce, Colorado Burrito, Southwest (Denver) Omelette, Breakfast Burrito, Chiles rellenos, and Tamales most notably. Denver has a very large population of Mexican Americans (one of the countrys largest), and is famous for many other southwest cuisine dishes as well. Denver is also well known for other types of food such as Rocky Mountain oysters, Rainbow trout, and the Denver sandwich.
The Dragon Boat Festival in July, Moon Festival in September and Chinese New Year are annual events in Denver for the Chinese and Asian residents. Chinese hot pot (huo guo) and Korean BBQ restaurants have been growing in popularity. The Denver area has 2 Chinese newspapers, the Chinese American Post and the Colorado Chinese News.
Denver is also the setting for The Bill Engvall Show, and the setting for the 18th season of MTVs The Real World. It was also the setting for the prime time drama Dynasty from 1981 to 1989 (although the show was mostly filmed in Los Angeles). From 1998 to 2002, the citys Alameda East Veterinary Hospital was home to the Animal Planet series Emergency Vets, which spun off three one-off documentary specials and the current Animal Planet series E-Vet Interns. The city is also the setting for the Disney Channel Original TV Show, Good Luck Charlie, which is currently in its third season.