Denver Colorado

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Denver skyline, 1999.

Template:Infobox City The City and County of Denver is the largest city and capital of the state of Colorado, United States of America. It is the largest city along the Front Range and forms the heart of the Denver-Aurora metropolitan area.

The city is located on the plains just east of the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, which form a dramatic and awe inspiring skyline to the west. The central downtown district is on the east side of the South Platte River, near its confluence with Cherry Creek, approximately fifteen miles from the foothills.

It is the county seat of, and coextensive with, Denver County -- one of the few consolidated city-counties. As of the 2000 census, the population of the city was 554,636. Also as of the 2000 census [1], the population of the Denver-Aurora metropolitan area was 2,179,240, making it the 22nd-largest metropolitan area in the United States.

Denver is nicknamed the "Mile-High City", because its official elevation, measured on the fifteenth step of the state capitol building's west side, is 5,280 feet (1,609 m) above sea level. (The elevation is 5,431 ft [1,655 m], as surveyed at the Denver International Airport). Also, a row of seats in the upper deck of Coors Field, home of Major League Baseball's Colorado Rockies (NL), is distinctively marked in purple (one of the team's colors) to indicate that the row is one mile above sea level.

Denver has also been known historically as the Queen City of the Plains because of its important role in the agricultural industry of the plains regions along the foothills of the Front Range.

Several US Navy ships have been named USS Denver in honor of the city.


Denver was founded in the Kansas Territory in 1858. On November 22 of that year, General William Larimer, a land speculator from eastern Kansas, placed cottonwood logs to stake a square-mile claim on the hill overlooking the confluence of the South Platte River and Cherry Creek, across the creek from the existing mining settlement of Auraria.

Colorado State Capitol Building

The site was accessible to existing trails and had previously been the site of seasonal encampments of the Cheyenne and Arapaho. Larimer, along with associates in the Denver 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. The name "Denver City" was chosen to honor Kansas territorial governor James W. Denver, in order to ensure that the city would become the county seat of then Arapaho County, Kansas. Ironically, when Larimer named it after Denver, he was unaware that James Denver had already resigned as governor.

In the first few years, while the town grew, land parcels were often traded freely for grubstakes and in the course of gambling by miners in Auraria. The city was incorporated on November 7, 1861, several months after the formation of the Colorado Territory. Denver was the county seat of Arapahoe County, Colorado until the creation of Denver County in 1902.

Denver was selected to host the 1976 Winter Olympics to coincide with Colorado's centennial anniversary, but Colorado voters struck down ballot initiatives allocating public funds to pay for the high costs of the games, so they were moved to Innsbruck, Austria. The movement against hosting the games was based largely on environmental issues and was led by then State Senator Richard Lamm. Lamm was subsequently elected as Colorado governor in 1974.

On April 20, 1999, the Columbine High School massacre occurred at Columbine High School, which is located southwest of Denver in an unincorporated area in suburban Jefferson County; the school has a Littleton address.

The cheeseburger was allegedly invented in Denver by Louis Ballast who operated the Humpty Dumpty Barrel drive-in. He applied for a patent on his now famous invention in 1935. It has been speculated that he wasn’t the first person to add cheese to a hamburger, but nobody has an earlier patent, and no evidence to debunk his claim has emerged.[2]

Denver was an important place for the "beat generation." Beat icon Neal Cassady was raised on Larimer Street in Denver, and a portion of Jack Kerouac's beat masterpiece On the Road takes place in the city, and is based on the beat's actual experiences in Denver during a road trip. Beat poet Allen Ginsberg lived for a time in the Denver suburb of Lakewood, Colorado, and he helped found the Buddhist college, Naropa University or the "Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at Naropa" in nearby Boulder, Colorado.

Geography and climate

Denver is located at 39°43'35" North, 104°57'56" West (39.726287, -104.965486)Template:GR in the Colorado Front Range region. It has the Rocky Mountains to the west and the great plains to the east.

File:Denver satellite 1999.jpg
Satellite image of the Denver Metropolitan area

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 401.3 km² (154.9 mi²). 397.2 km² (153.4 mi²) of it is land and 4.1 km² (1.6 mi²) of it is water. The total area is 1.03% water.


Denver has a semi-arid climate characterized by dry winters, wetter springs, low-humidity summers, and pleasant falls. While Denver is located on the Great Plains, the weather of the city and surrounding area is heavily influenced by the proximity of the Rocky Mountains to the west. In the winter, the storms that dump huge amounts of snow in the mountains get blocked by the towering Front Range mountains. So, Denver tends to have dry winters that receive less snow than one may expect. In the late spring and early summer, the warm, moist air from the Gulf of Mexico influences the area and thunderstorms are prevalent, especially in the afternoon. Late summer thunderstorms are also common, fueled by tropical moisture from Mexico called the "monsoonal flow."

The climate, while considered mild compared to the mountains to the west and the plains further east, can often be very unpredictable. An often-repeated saying of Denverites is "If you don't like the weather, wait five minutes." Measurable amounts of snow have fallen in Denver as late as Memorial Day and as early as Labor Day, although trace amounts have been recorded in June.

Denver averages 15.4 inches (391 mm) of precipitation per year. The average annual snowfall is around 60 inches. Although Denver's Convention and Visitor Bureau claims Denver receives over 300 sunny days a year [3], the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says Denver receives about 250 days of sunshine a year [4]. January's average daily high is 43° F with a daily low of 15°F. July's average high is 88°F with a low of 59°F. [5]


Map of Denver Neighborhoods

Denver has 79 administrative "neighborhoods." The City and community groups use these "neighborhoods" for planning and administration. Although the City's delineation of the "neighborhood" boundaries is somewhat arbitrary, often the City's definitions of its "neighborhoods" correspond to those used by Denverites to describe a particular place. These are those "neighborhoods":

Denver also has a number of "neighborhoods" not reflected in the City's administrative "neighborhoods." Sometimes these neighborhoods reflect the way people in an area identify themselves; sometimes they reflect how others, such as real estate developers, have defined those areas.

Among the neighborhoods commonly spoken of are LoDo (short for "Lower Downtown"), part of the City's Union Station neighborhood; Capitol Hill; Uptown, part of the North Capitol Hill neighborhood; Curtis Park, part of the Five Points neighborhood; Alamo Placita, the northern part of the Speer neighborhood; and the Golden Triangle, roughly the Civic Center neighborhood.


As of the censusTemplate:GR of 2000, there are 554,636 people, 239,235 households, and 119,378 families residing in the city. The population density is 1,396.5/km² (3,616.8/mi²). There are 251,435 housing units at an average density of 633.1/km² (1,639.6/mi²). The racial makeup of the city is 65.30% White, 11.12% Black or African American, 1.31% Native American, 2.81% Asian American, 0.12% Pacific Islander, 15.59% from other races, and 3.75% from two or more races. 31.68% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There are 239,235 households out of which 23.2% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 34.7% are married couples living together, 10.8% have a female householder with no husband present, and 50.1% are non-families. 39.3% of all households are made up of individuals and 9.4% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.27 and the average family size is 3.14.

In the city the population is spread out with 22.0% under the age of 18, 10.7% from 18 to 24, 36.1% from 25 to 44, 20.0% from 45 to 64, and 11.3% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 33 years. For every 100 females there are 102.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 101.1 males.

The median income for a household in the city is $39,500, and the median income for a family is $48,195. Males have a median income of $34,232 versus $30,768 for females. The per capita income for the city is $24,101. 14.3% of the population and 10.6% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 20.3% of those under the age of 18 and 9.7% of those 65 and older are living below the poverty line.


Denver's economy is to some degree based on its geographic position and its connection to some of the major transportation systems of the country. Since Denver is the largest city within 600 miles, it has become a natural location for storage and distribution of goods and services to the Mountain States. Denver is also approximately halfway between the large cities of the Midwest like Chicago and St. Louis and the cities of the West Coast, another benefit for distribution.

17th Street, dubbed the "Wall St. of the West," is home to many of Denver's banks, corporations, and financial agencies.

This position also allows Denver to have a considerable amount of federal jobs with many federal agencies based or having offices in the Denver area. This includes the Denver Federal Center, in nearby Lakewood, Colorado. In fact, the Denver Metropolitan Area has more federal workers than any other city except for the Washington D.C. metropolitan area. Along with the plethora of federal agencies comes many companies based on US defense and space projects. Lockheed-Martin, and Ball Aerospace are examples. Of course, being the capital of the state of Colorado also gives many state jobs to Denver.

Denver's position near the mineral-rich Rocky Mountains, encouraged mining and energy companies to spring up in the area. In the early days of the city, gold and silver booms and busts played a large role in the economic success of the city. In the 1970s and early '80s, the energy crisis in America created an energy boom in Denver captured in the soap opera Dynasty. During this time, Denver was built up considerably, with many new downtown skyscrapers built during this time. Eventually the oil prices dropped from $34 a barrel in 1981 to $9 a barrel in 1986, and the Denver economy dropped with it, leaving almost 15,000 oil industry workers in the area unemployed (including mayor John Hickenlooper, a former geologist), and the highest office vacancy rate in the nation (30%). Energy and mining are still important in Denver's economy today, with companies such as Newmont Mining, Patina Oil and Gas, and Western Gas Resources.

Denver's west-central geographic location in the Mountain Time Zone (UTC -7) also benefits the telecommunications industry by allowing communication with both North American coasts, South America, Europe, and Asia in the same business day. Denver's location on the 105th meridian at over 1 mile in elevation also enables it to be the largest city in the U.S. to offer a 'one-bounce' real-time satellite uplink to 6 continents in the same business day. Qwest Communications, EchoStar, Starz-Encore, and Comcast are just a few of the telecommunications companies with operations in the Denver area. These and other high-tech companies had a boom in Denver in the mid to late 1990s, but the technology bust in the new millennium caused Denver to lose many of those technology jobs. Recently the Denver area has started making a comeback, with an unemployment level of 5.3%, considerably lower than the 6.4% unemployment from just a year before. Denver government and industry leaders are attempting to diversify the Denver economy so that it is less susceptible to boom and bust cycles.

Other companies with major operations in the Denver area include:


Colfax Ave at Broadway, where the downtown and the normal city grid meet

Grid system

Most of Denver has a straight forward north-south, east-west street grid. Blocks are usually identified in hundreds from the median streets. Colfax Avenue, the major east-west artery through Denver, is 15 blocks or 1500 north of the median. Ellsworth Ave is the north-south median, while Broadway is the east-west median. Both of these streets are identified as "0." Avenues north of Ellsworth are numbered (with the notable exception of Colfax Ave. and a few others). Avenues south of Ellsworth are named. All streets are named.

However, there is also an older downtown grid system that was designed to be parallel to the South Platte River and Cherry Creek. Therefore, most of the streets downtown and in LoDo run northeast-southwest and northwest-southeast. This system was also designed to help with snow pack. If the streets were to run in a normal N-S/E-W system, only the N-S streets would get sun. With the grid pointed to the diagonal directions, the NW-SE streets get sun to melt snow in the morning and the NE-SW streets get it in the afternoon. The NW-SE streets are numbered, while the NE-SW streets are named. The named streets start at the intersection of Colfax Ave and Broadway with the block long Cleveland Place. The numbered streets start underneath the Colfax and 1-25 viaducts. There are 27 named and 44 numbered streets on this grid. There are also a few vestiges of the old grid system in the normal grid such as Park Ave, Morrison Rd., and Speer Blvd.

Of course, this makes Denver a somewhat confusing city to drive in, especially in areas where these two grid systems meet. Often, people will take a wrong turn and end up in the completely opposite direction they intended. Fortunately, downtown traffic in Denver is much calmer than in many other large cities, and the mountains to the west provide an easy navigational reference.


Denver is primarily served by the interstate highways I-25 and I-70. I-25 runs north-south from the New Mexico border through Denver to the Wyoming border. Likewise, I-70 runs east-west from Utah to Kansas. The intersection of the two interstates in Denver has been locally termed "the mousetrap." Additionally, I-76 intersects I-70 and I-25 just west and north of the city, respectively, and runs northeast to Nebraska.

A highway expansion and transit project, dubbed "T-REX", is currently under construction. The project includes the addition of extra freeway lanes and a light rail line in the I-25 corridor between downtown Denver and the Denver Technological Center. The massive project is slated to be finished in fall of 2006.

Mass Transportation

Denver RTD Light Rail car at 16th & Stout

Mass transportation throughout the Denver-Aurora metropolitan area is managed and coordinated by the Regional Transportation District (RTD). RTD currently operates more than 1,000 buses serving 10,000 bus stops in 38 municipal jurisdictions. Additionally, RTD operates two light rail lines with a total of 15.8 miles of track and serving 24 stations. Current RTD local fare is $1.25. FasTracks, an expansion project approved by voters in 2004, will allow light rail to serve cities such as Lakewood, Golden, and Aurora. Commuter rail lines will serve Boulder, Longmont and the Denver International Airport.


Train service to Denver is provided by the Amtrak California Zephyr which runs from Chicago west through Denver to San Francisco. Additionally, there is the Ski Train provided by the Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad which takes passengers between Denver and the Winter Park Ski Resort. Trains stop in Denver at Union Station, where travellers can meet up with RTD's 16th Street Free MallRide or use light rail to tour the city.


Denver's sister cities

Denver has the second oldest sister city in the United States with its relationship with Brest, France started in 1948. In 1947, Amanda Knecht, a teacher at East High School, visited WWII ravaged Brest. When she came back, she shared her experiences in the city with her students, and her class raised $32,000 in change to help rebuild the children's wing of Brest's hospital. The gift was proceeded with the development of the sister city program with Brest. Denver's Sister Cities International develops programs to foster relations between all the cities. All of Denver's sister cities have parks in the city named after them (except the newest sister city, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, which will eventually have its own park).

The list of Denver's sister (aka twinned) cities includes Axum (Ethiopia), Brest (France), Chennai (India), Cuernavaca (Mexico), Karmiel (Israel), Kunming (China), Nairobi (Kenya), Potenza (Italy), Takayama (Japan), and Ulaanbaatar (Mongolia).


Public Schools

Denver's public schools are operated by Denver Public Schools. The first school was a log cabin on the corner on 12th street between Market and Larimer streets that opened in 1859. Currently, DPS operates 73 elementary schools, 15 K-8 schools, 17 Middle Schools, 14 High Schools, and 19 Charter Schools. They also operate magnet programs and schools including the Denver School of the Arts, the Center for International Studies, the Emily Griffith Opportunity School, an International Baccalaureate program, a Highly Gifted and Talented Program, and others. DPS also operates the Balarat Program, a outdoor education, western history, and environmental studies program at a 720 acre site in the mountains northwest of Boulder [6].

In total, DPS educates approximately 73,000 students. The ethnic/racial composition of these students are:

American Indian: 1.2% Asian: 3.1% Black: 19.1% Hispanic: 57.3% White: 19.3%

The graduation rate of DPS students is 76.9% with a dropout rate of 4.6%. (The rest of the percentage can be attributed to students moving out of the district).

There are 13,452 employees of DPS, 4,061 are teachers. [7]

Colleges and universities



File:Denver mosaic.jpg
The Rocky Mountains west of Denver help people navigate the city by serving as a directional reference.


Sports teams


  • Awarded the 1976 Winter Olympics, which voters rejected due to a 300 percent rise in costs and worries about environmental impact
  • The 1998 Major League All-Star Game at Coors Field
  • The 2001 NHL All-Star Game and FanFest at Pepsi Center
  • 2005 NBA All-Star Game at the Pepsi Center
  • 2008 NCAA Frozen Four Tournament
  • Denver is host to a yearly race on the Champ Car World Series circuit, the Grand Prix of Denver


Famous Denverites

Famous non-native residents

Books on Denver

  • Rise and Dine, Breakfast in Denver & Boulder by Joey Porcelli. Fulcrum Publishing, Golden, Colorado. ISBN 1555915094.

A large portion of Jack Kerouac's beat classic On the Road takes place in Denver.

External links

Template:Mapit-US-cityscale Template:Colorado Template:United States state capitals

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