With a population somewhere around 567,000, Denver is the largest city in the state of Colorado, situated along the South Platte River and Cherry Creek. Nicknamed the "Mile High City" because it is situated a mile above sea level, Denver was first established during the gold rush of the mid-19th century, similar to many other Rocky Mountain cities. Denver experienced a population decline in the 1990s, when a large proportion of residents began relocating to the suburbs, but the city has rebounded and remains the financial, commercial, and cultural hub of the Rocky Mountain region.
NEIGHBORHOODS AND DISTRICTS
Denver is composed of numerous distinct neighborhoods:
- With three diverse commercial districts (Lower Highlands, Highlands Square, and Tennyson Street) and a distinct Hispanic community, Highlands is Denver's largest neighborhood. This area northwest of downtown has undergone a notable growth spurt and is now filled with numerous fashionable restaurants, bars, and shops. The area of Highlands Square, at 32nd and Lowell, features a number of old-fashioned boutiques and restaurants surrounded by bungalow-style homes.
- Five Points is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Denver and features a mixture of Victorian homes and newer housing developments. Its predominantly African-American-owned commercial district is unique in the country and is known for its vibrant jazz scene. Notable attractions here include the Stiles African American Heritage Center and the Black American West Museum and Heritage Center.
- Cherry Creek North is the main shopping and dining neighborhood and features hundreds of independently owned shops, galleries, spas, and restaurants, not to mention the area's upscale Cherry Creek Shopping Center. The area's many greenbelts, including the Cherry Creek Bike Path, give the neighborhood a diverse combination of urban and suburban landscapes.
- Located near Cherry Creek, Old South Gaylord is mainly a residential neighborhood with its own dining and shopping districts. Quaintly decorated shops give the place a laid-back atmosphere, and this atmosphere is accentuated by Washington Park, which includes lakes, flower gardens, and generally pleasant spaces for family picnics.
- Lower Downtown (LoDo), at Larimer and Riverfront, is composed of newly restored red brick buildings and one of the largest series of Victorian and turn-of-the-century homes in the United States. LoDo is filled with a variety of brewpubs, restaurants, and coffeehouses and is home to the Colorado Rockies Major League Baseball team, which plays in Denver's Coors Field. Larimer Square is one of the first historic neighborhoods in America to be restored and has a notable nightlife as well as fashionable shops and boutiques. Riverfront contains the only downtown amusement park in the United States; other Riverfront attractions are the Children's Museum of Denver and the Museum of Contemporary Art.
ECONOMY AND INDUSTRIES
Once a major gold- and silver-mining capital, Denver experienced economic booms after World War II, when military bases brought development, and in the 1970s, when it became the core of oil shale exploration. After a decade of decline, Denver once again boomed in the 1990s, when international and government businesses and tourism helped finance such projects as the light-rail transit system and Denver International Airport.
Denver's strategic location along major interstates has enabled it to become a successful processing, shipping, and distribution center for a quantity of goods and services. Denver is also home to a number of electronics plants, and its prominent manufactures include telecommunications, aeronautics, and high technology.
Some notable businesses include C-Square Industries, which is dedicated to serving manufacturers of pollution control or waste treatment devices, Qwest Communications, a high-speed Internet and telecommunications company, and Quiznos restaurant chain.
Denver has a number of institutions of higher learning:
- University of Denver enrolls more than 11,000 students in undergraduate and graduate programs.
- Community College of Denver offers programs in behavioral sciences, early childhood education, English/literature, information technology, pre-aerospace engineering technology, and veterinary technology.
- Art Institute of Colorado, offers degrees in Web design, interactive media design, media arts and animation, culinary management, interior design, digital film and video production, graphic design, and culinary arts.
- Kaplan College-Denver specializes in health-care and legal studies.
Denver has several attractions that celebrate local and regional history:
- Colorado History Museum on Broadway in the downtown area explores Colorado's diverse history through a number of intriguing exhibits on mining in the Rocky Mountains and life in early Denver. The museum offers historic photos, artifacts, and dioramas.
- Byers-Evans House Museum, an Italianate-style house first constructed in the early 1880s and refurbished to an early-20th-century style, displays the legacy of the Byers and Evans families, two early and important Colorado pioneer families. This home is located on Bannock in downtown.
- Devoted to preserving African American history, Stiles African American Heritage Center features historical lessons and first-person historical interpretations, guided tours, cultural exhibits, and replications.
- Children's Museum of Denver offers a number of interactive programs to enhance the joy of learning.
Denver offers a number of other options for children's amusements:
- Boondocks Fun Center, located just off the Interstate 25, includes indoor and outdoor facilities as well as a full-service restaurant, go-kart rides, laser tag, mini-golf courses, and a max-flight roller coaster simulator.
- Lakeside Amusement Park includes kiddie rides, a scenic miniature train, and the crowd-favorite Cyclone Roller Coaster.
- Elitch Gardens amusement park includes theme parks, a water park, and a variety of entertainment and events. This park is open seasonally in the summers.
In addition to the Colorado Rockies MLB team, Denver is home to a number of sports teams:
- Denver Broncos National League Football team
- Denver Nuggets National Basketball Association team
- Colorado Avalanche National Hockey League team
- Colorado Mammoth National Lacrosse League team
- Colorado Rapids Major League Soccer team
- Colorado Crush of the Arena Football League
DID YOU KNOW?
- If you want to be exactly one mile above sea level, be on or at: the 13th step of the State Capitol, the purple seats in Coors Field's upper deck, or the Mile High Loop Trail in City Park.
- One place that says it invented the cheeseburger was Humpty Dumpty drive-in at 2776 N. Speer Blvd., where, in 1935, a patty first met a slice of cheese. The Denver drive-in is long gone.
- Men's Fitness ranks Denver residents as #2 in the nation for participating in skiing, #2 in hiking, #3 in jogging and #1 in mountain biking, scuba diving, snowboarding and Pilates.
- The Western snap shirt was created by Rockmount Ranch Wear at 1626 Wazee. The snaps were designed to pop open so a cowboy wouldn't tear his pocket if it snagged on brush or barbed wire.
- The Denver region is home to more than 30 microbreweries and the mighty Coors brewery in Golden. John Hickenlooper, a brewer, was elected mayor of Denver and governor of Colorado.
- Chances are that today's Denver weather forecast is sunny and dry. Government stats prove that Denver has a 69% chance of having a sunny day - a 1% better chance than San Diego.
- Back in the Jurassic era, Denver was covered with warm seas, a Miami Beach for dinosaurs. The bones of hundreds of species have been found here, such as at Dinosaur Ridge near Morrison.
- Alfred Packer, convicted of manslaughter for eating 5 fellow prospectors after they were snowed in near Gunnison in 1874, retired to the Denver area and is buried in Littleton Cemetery.
- It is now a ghost town, but in 1861, Nevadaville, outside Central City, was larger than Denver.
- When Denver International Airport was built it required the moving of 110 million cubic yards of earth, about one-third the amount of earth moved to build the Panama Canal.
- In terms of size, Denver International is the largest airport in the country at 53 square miles.
- Denver is Bicycle Magazine's top city for bicyclists. The city has 85 miles of off-road trails for bikers and runners. There's more than 130 miles of designated bike paths and lanes.
- Colorado has the lowest obesity rate of the 50 states, according to the Trust for America's Health, 2004.
- There are 40 state parks and 3 national parks in metro Denver's back yard; prime recreation opportunities abound for biking, hiking, camping, fishing or skiing.
- The city and county of Denver has the largest city park system in the nation with 205 parks within the Denver city limits. More than 20,000 acres of parks are in the nearby mountains.
- The stegosaurus was designated as the official state fossil on April 28, 1982 by executive order of Gov. Richard D. Lamm.
- Denver receives 300 days of sunshine a year. That's more sun than San Diego or Miami Beach.
- As the "Baby Boomer" capital of America, Denver has the highest percentage of boomers than any major U.S. city.
- Denver is built on high plains and is one of the flattest of all American cities.
- The entire world's supply of Colorado onyx, a rare stone found near Beulah, is used as wainscoting inside the Denver State Capitol.
- The largest of the hundreds of natural lakes in Colorado is Grand Lake, which is almost one full square mile.
- Colorado earns its nickname "Mother of Rivers" because more major rivers have their source in Colorado than in any other state.
- John Henry "Doc" Holliday's brief and tumultuous existence led him to Glenwood Springs, where he succumbed to tuberculosis at the Hotel Glenwood on Nov. 8, 1887.
- Colorado's southwest corner borders Arizona, New Mexico & Utah, the only place in America where the corners of four states meet.
- The world's largest natural hot springs pool is in Glenwood Springs.
- Colfax Avenue is the longest continuous street in the United States. It stretches 26 miles from Aurora, through Denver to Lakewood, Colorado.
- Colfax is said to be a "Gateway to the Rockies" and it can take you from the plains to the mountains.
- With an average elevation of about 6800 feet, Colorado is the highest of all the states.
- Great Sand Dunes National Monument, near Alamosa, contains some of the largest and highest sand dunes in North America.