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Denver Union Station - History

Denver Union Station - History

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Union Station

Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Notable Buildings &bull Notable Events &bull Railroads & Streetcars. A significant historical month for this entry is March 1772.

Location. 39° 45.187′ N, 104° 59.986′ W. Marker is in Denver, Colorado, in Denver County. Marker is on Wynkoop Street near 17th Street. Out front of the building to the right as approaching up 17th street. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 1701 Wynkoop Street, Denver CO 80202, United States of America. Touch for directions.

Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. The People of the Station (a few steps from this marker) Welcome to Union Station (a few steps from this marker) Union Station Timeline (within shouting distance of this marker) Union Station Area (within shouting distance of this marker) Denver City Railway Building (within shouting distance of this marker) When the Depot Became a Station (within shouting distance of this marker) Edward W. Wynkoop (within shouting distance of this marker) Warehouses (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Denver.

Related markers. Click here for a list of markers that are related to this marker. Denver Union Station

Additional commentary.
1. Denver's Famous

Mizpah Arch (see picture 3)
In 1906, Denver's Famous Mizpah Arch was built in front of Union Station on 17th Street between Wynkoop and Wazee Streets. The 70-ton bronze-coated, steel gateway supported a huge "WELCOME" sign, illuminated by 2,194 light bulbs. Denver's Mayor Speer officially dedicated the arch on July 4th, 1906, declaring that it "is to stand here for ages as an expression of love, good wishes, and kind feelings of our citizens to the stranger who enters our gates."

Initially the arch also said "WELCOME" on the downtown side, but the Chamber of Commerce belatedly realized that departing visitors should not be "WELCOME" to leave Denver. Chamber officials later replaced that side of the sign with the word "MIZPAH".

Local Denver citizens initially told visitors that it was an "Indian Word" for "Howdy, Partner." In reality, mizpah is the Hebrew parting salutation found in Genesis 31-49 'The Lord watch between me and thee, when we are absent one from another."

For how famous the Mizpah Arch is in Denver history, it only stood for a brief 25 years. The Mizpah Arch was taken down on December 7th, 1931 after being deemed a traffic hazard.

arrived in Denver's Central Platte Valley on June 21, 1870. At that time, only four small temporary stations were set up to serve passengers.

1881 - The Union Depot and Railroad Company built the city's first Union Station. It cost $525,000 and opened on June 1, 1881.

1894 - The original Union Station building burned on March 18, 1894, when a fire ignited the electrical system of the ladies' restroom. Damage was considerable. The building's wooden tower was destroyed. Union Station was quickly rebuilt with a much lower roofline and a stone clock tower replaced the wooden one.

1906 - Denver's famous Welcome or Mizpah Arch was built in front of Union Station on 17th Street between Wynkoop and Wazee streets the arch was formally dedicated on July 4, 1906.

1914 - In 1914, the Denver Union Terminal Railway Company tore down the stone clock tower and replaced with the building's lower expanded center section that you see to this day. The original chandeliers were eight feet across. The original sconces on the wall were under coats of paint for decades. Only recently were they restored to their original bronze tone. The plaster arches that line the walls of the center room have 2300 carved Columbine flowers in them.

1920s/30s - The 1920s and 1930s were the glory days of Denver Union Station. During that time, the station operated 80 trains

1931 - The Mizpah arch was taken down on December 7, 1931 after being deemed a traffic hazard. Presidents Eisenhower, Taft and Theodore Roosevelt are just a few of the famous people who came by train into Union Station.

1958 - Up until 1958, Denver Union Station had more travelers than Stapleton Airport.

Late 1980s - In the late 1980s, the Regional Transportation District (RTD) and the City of Denver cooperated with the Denver Union terminal Railway Corporation (DUT), the private owner of the terminal, to make improvements to the site. These improvements included upgrading rail platforms and canopies and accommodating an RTD bus lane to access Market Street Station from the I-25 bus/High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes.

1997-2000 - RTD, the City and the Denver Regional Council of Governments (DRCOG) cooperated with the Union Station Transport Development Company (USTDC) and various private landowners and businesses to create the Central Platte Valley Light Rail Spur (C-Line), a major public transit connection to DUS.

2001 - In August 2001, RTD purchased the site in accordance with a jointly funded Intergovernmental Agreement between RTD, the City and County of Denver (CCD), CDOT and DRCOG.

2002 - In May 2002, the Denver Union Station project team was initiated by the CCD, RTD, CDOT, and DRCOG to develop a Master Plan and

Secrets of Colorado: 9 secrets of Denver's Union Station and the Crawford Hotel

For years in the early 1900s, Denver’s Union Station was the center of town -- the place where tourists and dreamers arrived looking to see the Rocky Mountains and maybe find a fortune.

Some 80 trains were arriving daily at Union Station in the 1930s and 1940s, but by 2012, there were just two trains a day and few people coming to Union Station.

However, that's changed in the last year since RTD opened a transportation hub at Union Station and developers remodeled the station, adding more retail space and a luxury hotel.

While it’s a beautiful place to visit, we want to share some of the secrets of Union Station that you might not know. Let’s start in the big open Great Hall.

</p><p>The Great Hall has become great again. There are restaurants and shops lining the room, with benches, even couches and other seating in the middle.

Secret No. 1: While the dark, wood benches are new, workers were able to save two of the original benches. They're on the north wall of Union Station.

</p><p>The original benches were known for being uncomfortable and it turns out they were unhealthy, too. They had asbestos inside! Crews were able to rescue two benches that didn't have asbestos. They've been cleaned up and are still in Union Station for history buffs to find.

By the way, just like your couch cushions, over the years, items got left or lost under the benches and in various places.

Secret No. 2: Some of those bus tickets, coins, notes and other items have been preserved.

</p><p>Not just preserved, the artifacts have been framed and are being used as artwork on the second floor of the hotel.

All of the art in the hotel was created by Colorado artists.

You can even see the blueprints for the 1912-1914 remodel of Union Station. They're framed and hung on the walls of a straircase between the third and fourth floors.

</p><p>Back in the Great Hall, it's hard not to notice the chandeliers.

Secret No. 3: The chandeliers may look familiar because they were crafted from photos of the original chandeliers inside Union Station.

</p><p>However, the new chandeliers are twice as large and have external light bulbs to provide more lighting.

Secret No. 4: The gold sconces on the walls are original, but they have LED light bulbs now.

</p><p>Did you notice the rosettes in the design around the sconces?

Secret No. 5: Those rosettes are Columbines, the Colorado state flower. There are 2,300 of them on the walls in the Great Hall of Union Station. If you visited years ago, you may not have noticed the detail work because the Columbines were painted dark brown. During the 2014 remodel, the Columbines were painted white so they were easier to see.

</p><p>As you wander around, look for the old ticket window -- it's been incorporated into the windows of the Terminal Bar.

</p><p>Secret No. 6: That is the original ticket window. Workers found it under a layer of drywall. It was cleaned up, fixed up and incorporated into the Great Hall's design.

In the Great Hall, you may notice two floors above the grand room - that's part of the Crawford Hotel.

</p><p>Secret No. 7: Before the remodel, Union Station was 3 floors -- retail and transportation on the first floor, offices on the next floor and an attic. Now, it's 4 floors!

A second floor was added between the original ground floor and the old office floor.

The office's floor is now the 3rd floor.

And a fourth floor was created in the old attic space.

The second, third and fourth floors house the 112-room boutique hotel. It was named the Crawford Hotel in honor of Dana Crawford, an urban preservationist and Union Station partner.

Crawford has had a hand in redeveloping Larimer Square, the Oxford Hotel and other Denver projects.

There are three styles of rooms.

</p><p>The "Pullman" rooms are on the second floor. The "Pullman" rooms are supposed to evoke train travel with a subtle art deco nod, according to the hotel's website.

You'll notice the rooms are rectangle-shaped, not square, more like a sleeping car room on a train.

The "classic" rooms are on the third floor. Officials say the rooms are inspired by the building's Victorian era beginning.

</p><p>Secret No. 8: If you're in a classic room, check out the bathroom door. Some of the doors came from the old offices that once occupied this floor.

The fourth floor rooms are the "loft" rooms, utilizing the old attic space. All rooms even have the original exposed wood timbers.

</p><p>We're told each rooms in The Crawford is different. In the loft-style rooms, you see those timbers and in some, you may have exposed brick. My tour guide said all of the loft rooms have fun furnishings.

</p><p>Secret No. 9: If you're staying at the hotel, you don't have to wait in the long lines for breakfast at Snooze restaurant on the first floor. You can order room service!

</p><p>Learn more about Union Station and The Crawford Hotel.

Discover Our Historic Hotel in Denver

Since our founding in 2014, The Crawford Hotel has seen Denver through high and low moments, persevering through it all. Follow the timeline below to learn the story behind one of Denver&rsquos most beloved hotels and landmarks.

Today, The Crawford Hotel is owned by Sage Hospitality.

Around every corner of Denver Union Station, find countless stories and unique pieces of Denver&rsquos rich past. More than a century old, the landmark station &mdash opened in 1881 &mdash has been completely restored to reflect the history of the railway station as well as Denver itself. From the 2,700 Columbine flowers etched into the walls to the blueprint display proudly showcasing past iterations of the station, uncover a unique experience like no other at our historic hotel in Denver.

Our Namesake

A longtime Denver resident, Dana Crawford is both our namesake and the driving force behind The Crawford. As a member of the Union Station Alliance, Crawford worked tirelessly to preserve and revitalize the iconic station, eventually bringing it back to its former glory. Throughout her career, Crawford aided in the revitalization of not only Denver Union Station, but also much of downtown Denver&rsquos historic sites.

If travel is on your agenda, there are plenty of options. People come from all over the world to take the train from Union Station. Traveling to San Francisco via Amtrak’s California Zephyr from Chicago will take you through two mountain ranges along the way, you can relax and watch bald eagles soar over snow-capped peaks.

But like many others, you’ll have a hard time wanting to leave Union Station once you arrive. While most travel hubs buzz with commotion as commuters rush to get somewhere, no one at Union Station is in a rush to do anything except enjoy the moment. If the train is late, it’s actually a good thing.

Even the hallways and staircases, lined with vintage artwork and mementos that evoke the romance of train travel, encourage you to slow down. If you have time, wander outside and find a spot in the sun. Reminiscent of Italy’s sprawling piazzas, the courtyard is a place where you can relax, take in the surroundings and watch the kids play in the fountain.

What Union Station has managed to capture is a relaxed, timeless feeling that is perfectly Colorado — a place where time seems content to whisper rather than shout. And when the conductor calls “All aboard,” it doesn’t matter where you’re going. You’re already enjoying the ride.

Neighborhood History

The stockyards weren’t the only industry to flock to what is now the future site of the National Western Center. Other railroad-reliant industries, such as ore smelters, found the area equally attractive and quickly expanded the industrial sector of Denver alongside the livestock industry. Communities such as Elyria, Swansea, and Globeville (formerly Holdenville) arose to house and accommodate the influx of industrial and meatpacking workers and their families.

To the east grew the diverse communities of Elyria and Swansea. Elyria was incorporated in 1890, immediately east of the present stockyards, which today borders Brighton Boulevard and the eastern boundary of the National Western Center Campus. Swansea sits beyond Elyria, east of York Street and was founded in 1870.

These regions were originally occupied by Slavic immigrants who were within walking distance to work in the industrial and meat packing plants. These growing communities built schools, churches, and neighborhood stores that were accessible and welcoming to the newcomers in the area. On the opposite side of the future National Western Center, to the west of the South Platte River, is the community of Globeville. This region was originally established in 1891 to provide homes for the workers of the Holden Smelter, and the area was home to many Polish immigrants in its early years.

Together, the stockyards, meat packing plants, and smelters created a strong and bustling economic center in the early 1900s, enabling the vibrant and resilient surrounding residential communities to grow and flourish for many years. Expansions in all three communities continued throughout World Wars I and II, and population shifts brought greater diversification and a strong Latino population and influence to the area.

These historic neighborhoods proved their resilience through industrial shifts that brought new challenges in the mid-1900s. Greater automation and the relocation of meat packing plants out of the city meant lost jobs and changing economies in the region. The physical landscape experienced a shift, too, with the construction of Interstate 70 in 1964. The demographics also changed. Currently, Globeville’s population is 68% Hispanic and Elyria Swansea’s population is 81% Hispanic. The community continues to be welcoming to immigrants and pride themselves on being family friendly. Learn more about the neighborhoods through the Denver Public Library.

Despite drastic changes, individuals in these communities resolved to revitalize their corner of Denver. The historic buildings and features that remain on the National Western Center site directly tell the story of the stockyard and early show days. These same features also tell the story of the surrounding residential neighborhoods as longstanding landmarks of community and prosperity.


In the summer of 1858, during the Pike's Peak Gold Rush, a group of gold prospectors from Lawrence, Kansas established Montana City as a mining town on the banks of the South Platte River in what was then western Kansas Territory. This was the first historical 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. [23]

On November 22, 1858, [ contradictory ] General William Larimer and Captain Jonathan Cox, Esquire, both land speculators 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 townsite Denver City to curry favor with Kansas Territorial Governor James W. Denver. [24] Larimer hoped the town's name would help it be selected as the county seat of Arapaho County but, unbeknownst 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 occupied by 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 immigrants. 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. [24] In May 1859, Denver City residents donated 53 lots to the Leavenworth & Pike's Peak Express in order to secure the region's 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 Denver's dominance of the region by choosing the city for its regional terminus.

The Colorado Territory was created on February 28, 1861, [25] Arapahoe County was formed on November 1, 1861, [25] and Denver City was incorporated on November 7, 1861. [26] Denver City served as the Arapahoe County Seat from 1861 until consolidation in 1902. [27] In 1867, Denver City became the acting territorial capital, and in 1881 was chosen as the permanent state capital in a statewide ballot. With its newfound importance, Denver City shortened its name to Denver. [27] 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 nation's first transcontinental railroad through Cheyenne, rather than Denver, threatened the prosperity of the young town. The transcontinental railroad passed a daunting 100 miles away, but citizens mobilized to build a railroad to connect Denver to it. 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. [28]

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 a mixture of crime and poverty of a rapidly growing city. Denver citizens were proud when the rich chose Denver and were thrilled when 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, such as the Croke, Patterson, Campbell Mansion at 11th and Pennsylvania and the now-demolished Moffat Mansion at 8th and Grant. [29] Intent on transforming Denver into one of the world's great cities, leaders wooed industry and attracted laborers to work in these factories.

Soon, in addition to the elite and a large middle class, Denver had a growing population of immigrant German, Italian, and Chinese laborers, soon followed by African Americans from the Deep South and Hispanic workers. The influx of the new residents strained available housing. In addition, the Silver Crash of 1893 unsettled political, social, and economic balances. Competition among the different ethnic groups was often expressed as bigotry, and social tensions gave rise to the Red Scare. Americans were suspicious of immigrants who were sometimes allied with socialist and labor union causes. After World War I, a revival of the Ku Klux Klan attracted white native-born Americans who were anxious about the many changes in society. Unlike the earlier organization that was active in the rural South, KKK chapters developed in urban areas of the Midwest and West, including Denver, and into Idaho and Oregon. Corruption and crime also developed in Denver. [30]

Between 1880 and 1895 the city underwent 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 bunco gangs. [31] The city also suffered 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 Denver's poor. [32] By 1890, Denver had grown to be the second-largest city west of Omaha, Nebraska. [33] In 1900, whites represented 96.8% of Denver's population. [34] The African American and Hispanic populations increased with migrations of the 20th century. Many African Americans first came as workers on the railroad, which had a terminus in Denver, and began to settle there.

Between the 1880s and 1930s, Denver's floriculture industry developed and thrived. [35] [36] This period became known locally as the Carnation Gold Rush. [37]

A bill proposing a state constitutional amendment to allow home rule for Denver and other municipalities was introduced in the legislature in 1901 and passed. The measure called for a statewide referendum, which voters approved in 1902. On December 1 that year Governor James Orman proclaimed the amendment part of the state's fundamental law. The City and County of Denver came into being on that date and was separated from Arapahoe and Adams Counties. [8] [9] [38]

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 one of its contemporaries, Renault. [39]

From 1953 to 1989, the Rocky Flats Plant, a DOE nuclear weapon facility that was 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. [40] A 1981 study by the Jefferson County health director, Dr. Carl Johnson 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. [41] [42] [43] Plutonium contamination was still present outside the former plant site as of August 2010 [update] . [44] It presents risks to building the envisioned Jefferson Parkway, [45] which would complete Denver's automotive beltway.

In 1970, Denver was selected to host the 1976 Winter Olympics to coincide with Colorado's centennial celebration, but in November 1972, Colorado voters struck down ballot initiatives allocating public funds to pay for the high costs of the games. They were moved to Innsbruck, Austria. [46] 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. He was subsequently elected to three terms (1975–87) as Colorado governor. [47] Denver explored a potential bid for the 2022 Winter Olympics, [48] but no bid was submitted. [49]

In 2010, Denver adopted a comprehensive update of its zoning code. [50] The new zoning was developed to guide development as envisioned in adopted plans such as Blueprint Denver, [51] Transit Oriented Development Strategic Plan, Greenprint Denver, and the Strategic Transportation Plan.

Denver has hosted the Democratic National Convention twice, in 1908 and again in 2008. It promoted the city on the national, political, and socioeconomic stage. [52] On August 10–15, 1993, Denver hosted the Catholic Church's 6th World Youth Day, which was attended by an estimated 500,000, making it the largest gathering in Colorado history.

Denver has 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 U.S. Navy ships have been named USS Denver in honor of the city.

Denver is in the center of the Front Range Urban Corridor, between the Rocky Mountains to the west and the High Plains to the east. Denver's 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 km 2 ), of which 153 square miles (396 km 2 ) is land and 1.6 square miles (4.1 km 2 ) (1.1%) is water. [53] 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 Denver's 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 city's elevation is 5,278 feet (1,609 m), which is reflected on various websites such as the National Weather Service. [54]

Neighborhoods Edit

As of January 2013, the City and County of Denver has defined 78 official neighborhoods that the city and community groups use for planning and administration. [55] Although the city's delineation of the neighborhood boundaries is somewhat arbitrary, it corresponds roughly to the definitions used by residents. These "neighborhoods" should not be confused with cities or suburbs, which may be separate entities within the metro area.

The character of the neighborhoods varies significantly from one to another and includes everything from large skyscrapers to houses from the late 19th century to modern, suburban-style developments. Generally, the neighborhoods closest to the city center are denser, older, and contain more brick building material. Many neighborhoods away from the city center were developed after World War II, and are built with more modern materials and style. Some of the neighborhoods even farther from the city center, or recently redeveloped parcels anywhere in the city, have either very suburban characteristics or are new urbanist developments that attempt to recreate the feel of older neighborhoods.

Denver does not have larger area designations, unlike the City of Chicago, which has larger areas that house the neighborhoods (e.g., Northwest Side). Denver residents use the terms "north", "south", "east", and "west". [56]

Denver also has a number of neighborhoods not reflected in the administrative boundaries. These neighborhoods may reflect the way people in an area identify themselves or they might reflect how others, such as real estate developers, have defined those areas. Well-known non-administrative neighborhoods include the historic and trendy LoDo (short for "Lower Downtown"), part of the city's Union Station neighborhood Uptown, straddling North Capitol Hill and City Park West Curtis Park, part of the Five Points neighborhood Alamo Placita, the northern part of the Speer neighborhood Park Hill, a successful example of intentional racial integration [57] and Golden Triangle, in the Civic Center.

One of Denver's newer neighborhoods was built on the former site of Stapleton International Airport, which was named after former Denver mayor Benjamin Stapleton, who was a member of the Ku Klux Klan. [58] In 2020, the neighborhood's community association voted to change the neighborhood's name from Stapleton to Central Park [59] (see more in Politics section below).

Adjacent counties, municipalities and census-designated places Edit

North: Adams County, Berkley, Northglenn, Commerce City
West: Jefferson County, Arvada, Wheat Ridge, Lakeside, Mountain View, Edgewater, Lakewood, Dakota Ridge Denver
Enclave: Arapahoe County, Glendale, Holly Hills
Adams County
East: Aurora
Arapahoe County
South: Arapahoe County, Bow Mar, Littleton, Sheridan, Englewood, Cherry Hills Village, Greenwood Village, Aurora

Major Highways Edit

Climate Edit

Denver lies within the semi-arid, continental climate zone (Köppen climate classification: BSk). [60] Humid continental and subtropical microclimates can be found. [61] [62] It has four distinct seasons and receives most of its precipitation from April through August. Due to its inland location on the High Plains, at the foot of the Rocky Mountains, the region can be subject to sudden changes in weather. [63]

July is the warmest month, with an average high temperature of 89 °F (31.7 °C). [64] Summers range from warm to hot with occasional, sometimes severe, afternoon thunderstorms and high temperatures reaching 90 °F (32 °C) on 38 days annually, and occasionally 100 °F (38 °C). December, the coldest month of the year, has an average daily high temperature of 46 °F (7.8 °C). Winters consist of periods of snow and very low temperatures alternating with periods of milder weather due to the warming effect of Chinook winds. In winter, daytime highs occasionally exceed 60 °F (16 °C), but they also often fail to reach 32 °F (0 °C) during periods of cold weather. Occasionally, daytime highs can even fail to rise above 0 °F (−18 °C) due to arctic air masses. [65] On the coldest nights of the year, lows can fall to −10 °F (−23 °C) or below. Snowfall is common throughout the late fall, winter and early spring, averaging 53.5 inches (136 cm) for 1981–2010. [66] The average window for measurable (≥0.1 in or 0.25 cm) snow is October 17 through April 27 however, measurable snowfall has fallen in Denver as early as September 4 and as late as June 3. [67] Extremes in temperature range from −29 °F (−34 °C) on January 9, 1875, up to 105 °F (41 °C) as recently as June 28, 2018. [68] Due to the city's high elevation and aridity, diurnal temperature variation is large throughout the year.

Tornadoes are rare west of the I-25 corridor however, one notable exception was an F3 tornado that struck 4.4 miles south of downtown on June 15, 1988. On the other hand, the suburbs east of Denver and the city's east-northeastern extension (Denver International Airport) can see a few tornadoes, often weak landspout tornadoes, each spring and summer especially during June with the enhancement of the Denver Convergence Vorticity Zone (DCVZ). The DCVZ, also known as the Denver Cyclone, is a variable vortex of storm-forming air flow usually found north and east of downtown, and which often includes the airport. [69] [70] Heavy weather from the DCVZ can disrupt airport operations. [71] [72] In a study looking at hail events in areas with a population of at least 50,000, Denver was found to be ranked 10th most prone to hail storms in the continental United States. [73] In fact, Denver has received 3 of the top 10 costliest hailstorms in United States history, which occurred on July 11, 1990 July 20, 2009 and May 8, 2017 respectively.

Based on 30-year averages obtained from NOAA's National Climatic Data Center for the months of December, January and February, Weather Channel ranked Denver the 18th coldest major U.S. city as of 2014 [update] . [74]

Denver's official weather station is at Denver International Airport, roughly 20 miles from downtown. A 2019 analysis showed the average temperature at Denver International Airport, 50.2 °F (10 °C), was significantly cooler than downtown, 53.0 °F (12 °C). Many of the suburbs also have warmer temperatures and there is controversy regarding the location of the official temperature readings. [75]

Climate data for Denver
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Mean daily daylight hours 10.0 11.0 12.0 13.0 14.0 15.0 15.0 14.0 12.0 11.0 10.0 9.0 12.2
Average Ultraviolet index 2 3 5 7 9 10 11 10 7 5 3 2 6.2
Source: Weather Atlas [81]

Historical population
Census Pop.
18704,759 0.2%
188035,629 648.7%
1890106,713 199.5%
1900133,859 25.4%
1910213,381 59.4%
1920256,491 20.2%
1930287,861 12.2%
1940322,412 12.0%
1950415,765 29.0%
1960493,887 18.8%
1970514,678 4.2%
1980492,686 −4.3%
1990467,610 −5.1%
2000554,636 18.6%
2010600,158 8.2%
2020 (est.)735,538 [82] 22.6%
U.S. Decennial Census [83]
Racial composition 2010 [84] 1990 [34] 1970 [34] 1940 [34]
White 68.9% 72.1% 89.0% 97.3%
—Non-Hispanic 52.2% 61.4% 74.5% [85] n/a
Black 10.2% 12.8% 9.1% 2.4%
Asian 3.4% 2.4% 1.4% 0.2%
Hispanic or Latino (of any race) 31.8% 23.0% 15.2% [85] n/a

As of the 2010 census, the population of the City and County of Denver was 600,158, making it the 24th most populous U.S. city. [86] The 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, [19] and the larger Denver-Aurora-Boulder Combined Statistical Area had an estimated 2013 population of 3,277,309 and ranked as the 16th most populous U.S. metropolitan area. [19] Denver is the most populous city within a radius centered in the city and of 550-mile (890 km) magnitude. [19] Denverites is a term used for residents of Denver.

According to the 2010 census, the City and County of Denver contained 600,158 people and 285,797 households. The population density was 3,698 inhabitants per square mile (1,428/km 2 ) including the airport. There were 285,797 housing units at an average density of 1,751 per square mile (676/km 2 ). [17] However, the average density throughout most Denver neighborhoods tends to be higher. Without the 80249 zip code (47.3 sq mi, 8,407 residents) near the airport, the average density increases to around 5,470 per square mile. Denver, Colorado, is at the top of the list of 2017 Best Places to Live, according to U.S. News & World Report, landing a place in the top two in terms of affordability and quality of lifestyle. [87]

According to the 2010 United States Census, the racial composition of Denver was as follows:

    : 68.9% (Non-Hispanic Whites: 52.2%) (of any race): 31.8% Mexican Americans made up 24.9% of the city's population. : 10.2% : 3.4% (0.8% Vietnamese, 0.6% Chinese, 0.5% Indian, 0.3% Korean, 0.3% Japanese, 0.3% Filipino, 0.2% Burmese, 0.1% Cambodian) : 1.4% : 0.1%
  • Some other race: 9.2% : 4.1%

Approximately 70.3% of the population (over five years old) spoke only English at home. An additional 23.5% of the population spoke Spanish at home. In terms of ancestry, 31.8% were Hispanic or Latino, 14.6% of the population were of German ancestry, 9.7% were of Irish ancestry, 8.9% were of English ancestry, and 4.0% were of Italian ancestry.

There were 250,906 households, of which 23.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 34.7% were married couples living together, 10.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 50.1% were non-families. 39.3% of all households were made up of individuals, and 9.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.27, and the average family size was 3.14.

Age distribution was 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 were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 33 years. Overall there were 102.1 males for every 100 females. Due to a skewed sex ratio wherein single men outnumber single women, some protologists had nicknamed the city as Menver. [88]

The median household income was $45,438, and the median family income was $48,195. Males had a median income of $36,232 versus $33,768 for females. The per capita income for the city was $24,101. 19.1% of the population and 14.6% of families were below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 25.3% of those under the age of 18 and 13.7% of those 65 and older were living below the poverty line. [89]

Denver has one of the largest populations of Mexican-Americans in the entire United States. Approximately one third of the city is Hispanic, with the overwhelming majority of them being of Mexican descent. Most of them speak Spanish at home.

Languages Edit

As of 2010 [update] , 72.28% (386,815) of Denver residents aged five and older spoke only English at home, while 21.42% (114,635) spoke Spanish, 0.85% (4,550) Vietnamese, 0.57% (3,073) African languages, 0.53% (2,845) Russian, 0.50% (2,681) Chinese, 0.47% (2,527) French, and 0.46% (2,465) German. In total, 27.72% (148,335) of Denver's population aged five and older spoke a language other than English. [90]

Longevity Edit

According to a report in the Journal of the American Medical Association, residents of Denver had a 2014 life expectancy of 80.02 years. [91]

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. [93] Denver's economy is based partially on its geographic position and its connection to some of the country's major transportation systems. 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 Francisco.

Over the years, the city has been home to other large corporations in the central United States, making Denver a key trade point for the country. Several well-known companies originated in or have relocated to Denver. William Ainsworth opened the Denver Instrument Company in 1895 to make analytical balances for gold assayers. Its factory is now in Arvada. AIMCO (NYSE: AIV)—the largest owner and operator of apartment communities in the United States, with approximately 870 communities comprising nearly 136,000 units in 44 states—is headquartered in Denver, employing approximately 3,500 people. Also, Samsonite Corp., the world's largest luggage manufacturer, began in Denver in 1910 as Shwayder Trunk Manufacturing Company, but Samsonite closed its NE Denver factory in 2001, and moved its headquarters to Massachusetts after a change of ownership in 2006. The Mountain States Telephone & Telegraph Company, founded in Denver in 1911, is now a part of telecommunications giant Lumen Technologies (previously CenturyLink).

On October 31, 1937, Continental Airlines, now United Airlines, moved its headquarters to Stapleton Airport in Denver, Colorado. Robert F. Six arranged to have the headquarters moved to Denver from El Paso, Texas because Six believed that the airline should have its headquarters in a large city with a potential base of customers. MediaNews Group purchased the Denver Post in 1987 the company is based in Denver. The Gates Corporation, the world's largest producer of automotive belts and hoses, was established in S. Denver in 1919. Russell Stover Candies made its first chocolate candy in Denver in 1923, but moved to Kansas City in 1969. The Wright & McGill Company has been making its Eagle Claw brand of fishing gear in NE Denver since 1925. The original Frontier Airlines began operations at Denver's old Stapleton International Airport in 1950 Frontier was reincarnated at DIA in 1994. Scott's Liquid Gold, Inc., has been making furniture polish in Denver since 1954. Village Inn restaurants began as a single pancake house in Denver in 1958. Big O Tires, LLC, of Centennial opened its first franchise in 1962 in Denver. The Shane Company sold its first diamond jewelry in 1971 in Denver. In 1973 Re/Max made Denver its headquarters. Johns Manville Corp., a manufacturer of insulation and roofing products, relocated its headquarters to Denver from New York in 1972. CH2M Hill, an engineering and construction firm, relocated from Oregon to the Denver Technological Center in 1980. The Ball Corporation sold its glass business in Indiana in the 1990s and moved to suburban Broomfield Ball has several operations in greater Denver.

Molson Coors Brewing Company established its U.S. headquarters in Denver in 2005, but announced its departure in 2019. Its subsidiary and regional wholesale distributor, Coors Distributing Company, is in NW Denver. The Newmont Mining Corporation, the second-largest gold producer in North America and one of the largest in the world, is headquartered in Denver. MapQuest, an online site for maps, directions and business listings, is headquartered in Denver's LoDo district.

Large Denver-area employers that have headquarters elsewhere include Lockheed Martin Corp., United Airlines, Kroger Co. and Xcel Energy, Inc.

Geography also allows Denver to have a considerable government presence, with many federal agencies based or having offices in the Denver area. Along with federal agencies come many companies based on US defense and space projects, and more jobs are brought to the city by virtue of its being the capital of the state of Colorado. The Denver area is home to the former nuclear weapons plant Rocky Flats, the Denver Federal Center, Byron G. Rogers Federal Building and United States Courthouse, the Denver Mint, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

In 2005, a $310.7 million expansion for the Colorado Convention Center was completed, doubling its size. The hope was the center's expansion would elevate the city to one of the top 10 cities in the nation for holding a convention. [94]

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 city's economic success. In the 1970s and early 1980s, the energy crisis in America and resulting high oil prices created an energy boom in Denver captured in the soap opera Dynasty. Denver was built up considerably during this time with the construction of many new downtown skyscrapers. When the price of oil dropped from $34 a barrel in 1981 to $9 a barrel in 1986, the Denver economy also dropped, leaving almost 15,000 oil industry workers in the area unemployed (including former mayor and governor John Hickenlooper, a former geologist), and the nation's highest office vacancy rate (30%). [95] The industry has recovered and the region has 700 employed petroleum engineers. [96] Advances in hydraulic fracturing have made the DJ Basin of Colorado into an accessible and lucrative oil play. Energy and mining are still important in Denver's economy today, with companies such as Ovintiv, Halliburton, Smith International, Rio Tinto Group, Newmont Mining, and Chevron Corporation, headquartered or having significant operations. Denver is in 149th place in terms of the cost of doing business in the United States. [97]

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 on the same business day. Denver's location on the 105th meridian at over one mile (1.6 km) in elevation also enables it to be the largest city in the U.S. to offer a "one-bounce" real-time satellite uplink to six continents in the same business day. Qwest Communications now part of CenturyLink, Dish Network Corporation, Starz, DIRECTV, and Comcast are a few of the many 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. After a rise in unemployment in the Great Recession, Denver's unemployment rate recovered and had one of the lowest unemployment rates in the nation at 2.6% in November 2016. [98] As of December 2016, the unemployment rate for the Denver-Aurora-Broomfield MSA is 2.6%. [99] The Downtown region has seen increased real estate investment [100] with the construction of several new skyscrapers from 2010 onward and major development around Denver Union Station.

Denver has also enjoyed success as a pioneer in the fast-casual restaurant industry, with many popular national chain restaurants founded and based in Denver. Chipotle Mexican Grill, Quiznos, and Smashburger were founded and headquartered in Denver. Qdoba Mexican Grill, Noodles & Company, and Good Times Burgers & Frozen Custard originated in Denver, but have moved their headquarters to the suburbs of Wheat Ridge, Broomfield, and Golden, respectively.

In 2015, Denver ranked No. 1 on Forbes ' list of the Best Places for Business and Careers. [101]

Apollo Hall opened soon after the city's founding in 1859 and staged many plays for eager settlers. [27] In the 1880s Horace Tabor built Denver's first opera house. After the start of the 20th century, city leaders embarked on a city beautification program that created many of the city's 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 0.1% (1 cent per $10) sales tax that contributes money to various cultural and scientific facilities and organizations throughout the Metro area. [102] The tax was renewed by voters in 1994 and 2004 and allowed the SCFD to operate until 2018. [103] Ballot issue 4B in 2016 won approval 62.8 percent to 37.2 percent, by Denver metro area voters, to extend the SCFD sales tax until 2030. [104]

Denver is home to a wide array of museums. [105] Denver has 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, in 2006, recognized for the third year in a row as the best city for singles. [106] Denver's neighborhoods also continue their influx of diverse people and businesses while the city's 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. [107] The Denver Museum of Nature and Science holds an aquamarine specimen valued at over $1 million, as well as specimens of the state mineral, rhodochrosite. Every September the Denver Mart, at 451 E. 58th Avenue, hosts a gem and mineral show. [108] The state history museum, History Colorado Center, opened in April 2012. It features hands-on and interactive exhibits, artifacts and programs about Colorado history. [109] It was named in 2013 by True West Magazine as one of the top-ten "must see" history museums in the country. [110] History Colorado's Byers-Evans House Museum and the Molly Brown House are nearby.

Denver has numerous art districts around the city, including Denver's Art District on Santa Fe and the River North Art District (RiNo). [111]

While Denver may not be as recognized for historical musical prominence as some other American cities, it has an active pop, jazz, jam, folk, metal, and classical music scene, which has nurtured several artists and genres to regional, national, and even international attention. Of particular note is Denver's 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. [112] Three members of the widely popular group Earth, Wind, and Fire are also from Denver. More recent Denver-based artists include Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats, The Lumineers, Air Dubai, The Fray, Flobots, Cephalic Carnage, Axe Murder Boyz, Deuce Mob, Havok, Bloodstrike, Primitive Man, 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 skiing in the winter and hiking, climbing, kayaking, and camping in the summer.

Denver and surrounding cities are home to a large number of local and national breweries. Many of the region's restaurants have on-site breweries, and some larger brewers offer tours, including Coors and New Belgium Brewing Company. 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, for more than a century Denver has hosted the annual National Western Stock Show, attracting as many as 10,000 animals and 700,000 attendees. The show is held every January at the National Western Complex northeast of downtown.

Denver has one of the country's largest populations of Mexican Americans and hosts four large Mexican American celebrations: Cinco de Mayo (with over 500,000 attendees), [113] in May El Grito de la Independencia, in September the annual Lowrider show, and the Dia De Los Muertos art shows/events in North Denver's 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. It is best known for its green and red chile sauce, Colorado burrito, Southwest (Denver) omelette, breakfast burrito, empanadas, chiles rellenos, and tamales. 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-American communities. 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. [114]

Denver has long been a place tolerant of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) community. Many gay bars can be found on Colfax Avenue and on South Broadway. Every June, Denver hosts the annual Denver PrideFest in Civic Center Park, the largest LGBTQ Pride festival in the Rocky Mountain region. [115]

Denver is the setting for The Bill Engvall Show, Tim Allen's Last Man Standing and the 18th season of MTV's 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 city's Alameda East Veterinary Hospital was home to the Animal Planet series Emergency Vets, which spun off three documentary specials and the current Animal Planet series E-Vet Interns. The city is also the setting for the Disney Channel sitcom Good Luck Charlie.

Denver is home to a variety of sports teams and is one of 13 U.S. cities with teams from four major sports (the Denver metro area is the smallest metropolitan area to have a team in all four major sports). Including MLS soccer, it is one of 10 cities to have five major sports teams. The Denver Broncos of the National Football League have drawn crowds of over 70,000 since their origins in the early 1960s, and continue to draw fans today to their current home Empower Field at Mile High. The Broncos have sold out every home game (except for strike-replacement games) since 1970. [116] The Broncos have advanced to eight Super Bowls and won back-to-back titles in 1997 and 1998, and won again in 2015.

The Colorado Rockies were created as an expansion franchise in 1993 and Coors Field opened in 1995. The Rockies advanced to the playoffs that year but were eliminated in the first round. In 2007, they advanced to the playoffs as a wild-card entrant, won the NL Championship Series, and brought the World Series to Denver for the first time but were swept in four games by the Boston Red Sox.

Denver has been home to two National Hockey League teams. The Colorado Rockies played from 1976 to 1982, but became the New Jersey Devils. The Colorado Avalanche joined in 1995, after relocating from Quebec City. While in Denver, they have won two Stanley Cups in 1996 and in 2001. The Denver Nuggets joined the American Basketball Association in 1967 and the National Basketball Association in 1976. The Avalanche and Nuggets have played at Ball Arena (formerly known as Pepsi Center) since 1999. The Major League Soccer team Colorado Rapids play in Dick's Sporting Goods Park, an 18,000-seat soccer-specific stadium opened for the 2007 MLS season in the Denver suburb of Commerce City. [117] The Rapids won the MLS Cup in 2010.

Major League sports teams
Club League Venue Attendance Attendance Rank in League Start Championship
Denver Broncos NFL Empower Field at Mile High 76,446 [118] 5th of 32 1960 1997, 1998, 2015
Denver Nuggets NBA Ball Arena 18,450 [119] 12th of 30 1967
Colorado Rockies MLB Coors Field 37,233 [120] 7th of 30 1993
Colorado Avalanche NHL Ball Arena 17,132 [121] 23rd of 31 1995 1996, 2001
Colorado Rapids MLS Dick's Sporting Goods Park 15,333 [122] 21st of 23 1996 2010

Denver has several additional professional teams. In 2006, Denver established a Major League Lacrosse team, the Denver Outlaws. They play in Empower Field at Mile High. In 2006, the Denver Outlaws won the Western Conference Championship and then won their first championship in 2014 eight years later. They also won in 2016 and 2018. The Colorado Mammoth of the National Lacrosse League play at Ball Arena. They won their first and only championship in 2006.

In 2018, the Denver Bandits were established as the first professional football team for women in Colorado and will be a part of the initial season for the Women's National Football Conference (WNFC) in 2019.

Denver submitted the winning bid to host the 1976 Winter Olympics but subsequently withdrew, giving it the dubious distinction of being the only city to back out after having won its bid to host the Olympics. [46] Denver and Colorado Springs hosted the 1962 World Ice Hockey Championships.

As of 2006 [update] , Denver had over 200 parks, from small mini-parks all over the city to the giant 314-acre (1.27 km 2 ) City Park. [123] Denver also has 29 recreation centers providing places and programming for resident's recreation and relaxation. [124]

Many of Denver's parks were acquired from state lands in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This coincided with the City Beautiful movement, and Denver mayor Robert Speer (1904–12 and 1916–18) set out to expand and beautify the city's parks. Reinhard Schuetze was the city's first landscape architect, and he brought his German-educated landscaping genius to Washington Park, Cheesman Park, and City Park among others. Speer used Schuetze as well as other landscape architects such as Frederick Law Olmsted Jr. and Saco Rienk DeBoer to design not only parks such as Civic Center Park, but many city parkways and tree-lawns. Cheesman Park neighbor the Denver Botanic Gardens displays the beauty and versatility of micro-climates within the semi-arid Denver Basin. All of these parks were fed with South Platte River water diverted through the city ditch. [125]

In addition to the parks within Denver, the city acquired land for mountain parks starting in the 1911s. [126] Over the years, Denver has acquired, built and maintained approximately 14,000 acres (57 km 2 ) of mountain parks, including Red Rocks Park, which is known for its scenery and musical history revolving around the unique Red Rocks Amphitheatre. [127] [128] Denver also owns the mountain on which the Winter Park Resort ski area operates in Grand County, 67 miles (110 km) west of Denver. [129] City parks are important places for Denverites and visitors, inciting controversy with every change. Denver continues to grow its park system with the development of many new parks along the Platte River through the city, and with Central Park and Bluff Lake Nature Center in the Central Park neighborhood redevelopment. All of these parks are important gathering places for residents and allow what was once a dry plain to be lush, active, and green. Denver is also home to a large network of public community gardens, most of which are managed by Denver Urban Gardens, a non-profit organization.

Since 1974, Denver and the surrounding jurisdictions have rehabilitated the urban South Platte River and its tributaries for recreational use by hikers and cyclists. The main stem of the South Platte River Greenway runs along the South Platte 35 miles (56 km) into Adams County in the north. The Greenway project is recognized as one of the best urban reclamation projects in the U.S., winning, for example, the Silver Medal Rudy Bruner Award for Urban Excellence in 2001. [130]

In 2020, ParkScore by the Trust for Public Land, a national land conservation organization, reported Denver had the 22nd best park system among the 50 most populous U.S. cities. 91% of Denverites live within a 10-minute walk of a park. I [131]

Denver is a consolidated city-county with a mayor elected on a nonpartisan ballot, a 13-member city council and an auditor. The Denver City Council is elected from 11 districts with two at-large council members and is responsible for passing and changing all laws, resolutions, and ordinances, usually after a public hearing, and can also call for misconduct investigations of Denver's departmental officials. All elected officials have four-year terms, with a maximum of three terms. The current mayor is Michael Hancock.

Denver has a strong mayor/weak city council government. The mayor can approve or veto any ordinances or resolutions approved by the council, makes sure all contracts with the city are kept and performed, signs all bonds and contracts, is responsible for the city budget, and can appoint people to various city departments, organizations, and commissions. However, the council can override the mayor's veto with a nine out of thirteen member vote, and the city budget must be approved and can be changed by a simple majority vote of the council. The auditor checks all expenditures and may refuse to allow specific ones, usually based on financial reasons. [132]

The Denver Department of Safety oversees three branches: the Denver Police Department, Denver Fire Department, and Denver Sheriff Department. The Denver County Court is an integrated Colorado County Court and Municipal Court and is managed by Denver instead of the state.

Politics Edit

While Denver elections are non-partisan, Democrats have long dominated the city's politics most citywide officials are known to be Democrats. The mayor's office has been occupied by a Democrat since the 1963 municipal election. All of the city's seats in the state legislature are held by Democrats.

In statewide elections, the city also tends to favor Democrats, though Republicans were occasionally competitive until the turn of the millennium. The last Republican to win Denver in a gubernatorial election was John A. Love in 1970 by a narrow majority. [133] Bill Owens in 2002 remains the last Republican governor to receive at least 40% of Denver's vote. [134] The last Republican Senator to carry Denver was William L. Armstrong during his 1984 landslide. [135]

In federal elections, Denver is a Democratic stronghold. It has supported a Democrat for president in every election since 1960, excluding 1972 and 1980. The city has swung heavily to the Democrats since the 1980s Ronald Reagan is the last Republican to garner even 40 percent of the city's vote. At the federal level, Denver is the heart of Colorado's 1st congressional district , which includes all of Denver and parts of Arapahoe County. It is the most Democratic district in the Mountain West and has been in Democratic hands for all but two terms since 1933. It is currently represented by Democrat Diana DeGette.

Benjamin F. Stapleton was the mayor of Denver for two periods, the first from 1923 to 1931 and the second from 1935 to 1947. Stapleton was responsible for many civic improvements, notably during his second stint as mayor when he had access to funds and manpower from the New Deal. During this time, the park system was considerably expanded and the Civic Center completed. His signature project was the construction of Denver Municipal Airport, which began in 1929 amidst heavy criticism. It was later renamed Stapleton International Airport in his honor. Today, the airport has been replaced by a neighborhood initially named Stapleton. However, because of Stapleton's demonstrated racism and prominent membership in the Ku Klux Klan, during the George Floyd protests, residents of the neighborhood changed the name to "Central Park" in 2020. [136] [137] Stapleton Street continues to bear his name.

During the 1960s and 1970s, Denver was one of the centers of the Chicano Movement. The boxer-turned-activist Rodolfo "Corky" Gonzales formed an organization called the Crusade for Justice, which battled police brutality, fought for bilingual education, and, most notably, hosted the First National Chicano Youth Liberation Conference in March 1969. [138]

In recent years, Denver has taken a stance on helping people who are or become homeless, particularly under the administrations of mayors John Hickenlooper and Wellington Webb. At a rate of 19 homeless per 10,000 residents in 2011 as compared to 50 or more per 10,000 residents for the four metro areas with the highest rate of homelessness, [139] Denver's homeless population and rate of homeless are both considerably lower than many other major cities. However, residents of the city streets suffer Denver winters – which, although mild and dry much of the time, can have brief periods of extremely cold temperatures and snow.

In 2005, Denver became the first major city in the U.S. to vote to make the private possession of less than an ounce of marijuana legal for adults 21 and older. [140] The city voted 53.5 percent in favor of the marijuana legalization measure, which, as then-mayor John Hickenlooper pointed out, was without effect, because the city cannot usurp state law, which at that time treated marijuana possession in much the same way as a speeding ticket, with fines of up to $100 and no jail time. [140] Denver passed an initiative in the fourth quarter of 2007 requiring the mayor to appoint an 11-member review panel to monitor the city's compliance with the 2005 ordinance. [141] In 2012, Colorado Amendment 64 was signed into law by Governor John Hickenlooper and at the beginning of 2014 Colorado became the first state to allow the sale of marijuana for recreational use. [142]

In May 2019, Denver became the first U.S. city to decriminalize psilocybin mushrooms after an initiative passed with 50.6% of the vote. The measure prohibits Denver from using any resources to prosecute adults over 21 for personal use of psilocybin mushrooms, though such use remains illegal under state and federal law. [143] [144]

Former Denver mayor John Hickenlooper was a member of the Mayors Against Illegal Guns Coalition, [145] an organization formed in 2006 and co-chaired by New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg and Boston mayor Thomas Menino.

Denver hosted the 2008 Democratic National Convention, which was the centennial of the city's first hosting of the landmark 1908 convention. It also hosted the G7 (now G8) summit between June 20 and 22 in 1997 and the 2000 National Convention of the Green Party. [146] [147] In 1972, 1981, and 2008, Denver also played host to the Libertarian Party of the United States National Convention. The 1972 Convention was notable for nominating Tonie Nathan as the Vice Presidential candidate, the first woman, as well as the first Jew, to receive an electoral vote in a United States presidential election.

On October 3, 2012, the University of Denver in Denver hosted the first of the three 2012 presidential debates during the election that year. [148]

In July 2019, Mayor Hancock said that Denver will not assist U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents with immigration raids. [149]

Denver vote
by party in presidential elections
Year Republican Democratic Others
2020 18.1% 71,618 79.5% 313,293 2.2% 8,918
2016 18.9% 62,690 73.7% 244,551 7.4% 24,611
2012 24.2% 73,111 73.4% 222,018 2.4% 7,289
2008 23.0% 62,567 75.5% 204,882 1.5% 4,084
2004 29.3% 69,903 69.6% 166,135 1.2% 2,788
2000 30.9% 61,224 61.9% 122,693 7.3% 14,430
1996 30.0% 58,529 61.8% 120,312 8.2% 15,973
1992 25.4% 55,418 56.0% 121,961 18.6% 40,540
1988 37.1% 77,753 60.7% 127,173 2.2% 4,504
1984 47.8% 105,096 50.2% 110,200 2.0% 4,442
1980 42.2% 88,398 41.0% 85,903 16.8% 35,207
1976 46.7% 105,960 49.5% 112,229 3.8% 8,549
1972 54.1% 121,995 43.5% 98,062 2.3% 5,278
1968 43.5% 92,003 50.2% 106,081 6.3% 13,233
1964 33.6% 73,279 65.7% 143,480 0.7% 1,529
1960 49.6% 109,446 49.7% 109,637 0.7% 1,618
1956 55.9% 121,402 43.2% 93,812 0.9% 1,907
1952 56.1% 119,792 43.2% 92,237 0.7% 1,534
1948 45.2% 76,364 52.9% 89,489 1.9% 3,214
1944 48.8% 86,331 50.8% 90,001 0.4% 759
1940 46.9% 81,328 52.5% 90,938 0.6% 1,105
1936 33.3% 50,743 65.1% 99,263 1.6% 2,486
1932 43.5% 59,372 53.4% 72,868 3.2% 4,318
1928 63.4% 73,543 35.6% 41,238 1.1% 1,221
1924 63.4% 59,077 16.9% 15,764 19.6% 18,282
1920 62.0% 43,581 32.5% 22,839 5.5% 3,838
1916 33.8% 23,185 62.8% 43,029 3.4% 2,298
1912 13.6% 8,155 44.5% 26,690 41.9% 25,171
1908 45.9% 30,193 50.4% 33,145 3.6% 2,369
1904 51.7% 32,667 45.8% 28,958 2.4% 1,528

Taxes Edit

The City and County of Denver levies an occupational privilege tax (OPT or head tax) on employers and employees.

  • If any employee performs work in the city limits and is paid over $500 for that work in a single month, the employee and employer are both liable for the OPT regardless of where the main business office is located or headquartered.
  • The employer is liable for $4 per employee per month and the employee is liable for $5.75 per month.
  • It is the employer's responsibility to withhold, remit, and file the OPT returns. If an employer does not comply, the employer can be held liable for both portions of the OPT as well as penalties and interest.

Denver Public Schools (DPS) is the public school system in Denver. It educates approximately 92,000 students in 92 elementary schools, 44 K-8 schools, 34 middle schools, 18 high schools, and 19 charter schools. [151] The first school of what is now DPS was a log cabin that opened in 1859 on the corner of 12th Street between Market and Larimer Streets. The district boundaries are coextensive with the city limits. [152] The Cherry Creek School District serves some areas with Denver postal addresses that are outside the city limits. [152] [153]

Denver's many colleges and universities range in age and study programs. Three major public schools constitute the Auraria Campus: the University of Colorado Denver, Metropolitan State University of Denver, and Community College of Denver. The private University of Denver was the first institution of higher learning in the city and was founded in 1864. Other prominent Denver higher education institutions include Johnson & Wales University, Catholic (Jesuit) Regis University and the city has Roman Catholic and Jewish institutions, as well as a health sciences school. In addition to those schools within the city, there are a number of schools throughout the surrounding metro area.

The Denver Metropolitan Area is served by a variety of media outlets in print, radio, television, and the Internet.

Television stations Edit

Denver is the 16th-largest market in the country for television, according to the 2009–2010 rankings from Nielsen Media Research.

    , channel 2, is a CW affiliate owned by Nexstar Broadcasting. Nexstar also owns KDVR, the Fox affiliate on channel 31, and KWGN is controlled by KDVR management. KWGN is Colorado's first television station, signing on the air in July 1952. , channel 4, is a CBSowned and operated station. , channel 6, is the flagship outlet of Rocky Mountain PBS, a statewide network of Public Broadcasting Service stations. Programming on KRMA is rebroadcast to four other stations throughout Colorado. , channel 7, is an ABC affiliate owned by the E.W. Scripps Company, previously owned by the McGraw-Hill company from 1972 to January 2012. , channel 9, is an NBC affiliate, owned by Tegna, Inc.. TEGNA also owns KTVD, the MyNetworkTV affiliate on channel 20. , channel 12, is Denver's secondary PBS affiliate. , channel 25, is a Telemundo-owned station. , channel 31, is Denver's FOX affiliate. , channel 38, is a Trinity Broadcasting Network-owned station. , channel 50, is the Univision affiliate. , channel 53, is a Christian station owned by the LeSEA Broadcasting group.

Radio stations Edit

Denver is also served by over 40 AM and FM radio stations, covering a wide variety of formats and styles. Denver-Boulder radio is the No. 19 market in the United States, according to the Spring 2011 Arbitron ranking (up from No. 20 in Fall 2009). For a list of radio stations, see Radio Stations in Colorado.

Print Edit

After a continued rivalry between Denver's two main newspapers, the Denver Post and Rocky Mountain News, the papers merged operations in 2001 under a joint operating agreement that formed the Denver Newspaper Agency [154] until February 2009 when E. W. Scripps Company, the owner of the Rocky Mountain News, closed the paper. There are also several alternative or localized newspapers published in Denver, including the Westword, Law Week Colorado, Out Front Colorado and the Intermountain Jewish News. Denver is home to multiple regional magazines such as 5280, which takes its name from the city's mile-high elevation (5,280 feet or 1,609 meters).

City streets Edit

Most of Denver has a straightforward street grid oriented to the four cardinal directions. Blocks are usually identified in hundreds from the median streets, identified as "00", which are Broadway (the east–west median, running north–south) and Ellsworth Avenue (the north–south median, running east–west). Colfax Avenue, a major east–west artery through Denver, is 15 blocks (1500) north of the median. Avenues north of Ellsworth are numbered (with the exception of Colfax Avenue and several others, such as Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd and Montview Blvd.), while avenues south of Ellsworth are named.

There is also an older downtown grid system that was designed to be parallel to the confluence of the South Platte River and Cherry Creek. Most of the streets downtown and in LoDo run northeast–southwest and northwest–southeast. This system has an unplanned benefit for snow removal if the streets were in a normal N–S/E–W grid, only the N–S streets would receive sunlight. With the grid oriented to the diagonal directions, the NW–SE streets receive sunlight to melt snow in the morning and the NE–SW streets receive it in the afternoon. This idea was from Henry Brown the founder of the Brown Palace Hotel. There is now a plaque across the street from the Brown Palace Hotel that honors this idea. The NW–SE streets are numbered, while the NE–SW streets are named. The named streets start at the intersection of Colfax Avenue and Broadway with the block-long Cheyenne Place. The numbered streets start underneath the Colfax and I-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 Avenue, Morrison Road, and Speer Boulevard. Larimer Street, named after William Larimer Jr., the founder of Denver, which is in the heart of LoDo, is the oldest street in Denver.

All roads in the downtown grid system are streets (e.g. 16th Street, Stout Street), except for the five NE-SW roads nearest the intersection of Colfax Avenue and Broadway: Cheyenne Place, Cleveland Place, Court Place, Tremont Place and Glenarm Place. Roads outside that system that travel east/west are given the suffix "avenue" and those that head north and south are given the "street" suffix (e.g. Colfax Avenue, Lincoln Street). Boulevards are higher capacity streets and travel any direction (more commonly north and south). Smaller roads are sometimes referred to as places, drives (though not all drives are smaller capacity roads, some are major thoroughfares) or courts. Most streets outside the area between Broadway and Colorado Boulevard are organized alphabetically from the city's center.

Some Denver streets have bicycle lanes, leaving a patchwork of disjointed routes throughout the city. There are over 850 miles [155] of paved, off-road, bike paths in Denver parks and along bodies of water, like Cherry Creek and the South Platte. This allows for a significant portion of Denver's population to be bicycle commuters and has led to Denver being known as a bicycle-friendly city. [156] Some residents are very opposed to bike lanes, which have caused some plans to be watered down or nixed. The review process for one bike line on Broadway will last over a year before city council members will make a decision. In addition to the many bike paths, Denver launched B-Cycle – a citywide bicycle sharing program – in late April 2010. The B-Cycle network was the largest in the United States at the time of its launch, boasting 400 bicycles. [157]

The Denver Boot, a car-disabling device, was first used in Denver. [158]

Cycling Edit

The League of American Bicyclists rated Colorado as the sixth most bicycle-friendly state in the nation for 2014. This is due in large part to Front Range cities like Boulder, Fort Collins and Denver placing an emphasis on legislation, programs and infrastructure developments that promote cycling as a mode of transportation. [159] Walk Score has rated Denver as the fourth most bicycle-friendly large city in the United States. [160] According to data from the 2011 American Community Survey, Denver ranks 6th among US cities with populations over 400,000 in terms of the percentage of workers who commute by bicycle at 2.2% of commuters. [161] B-Cycle – Denver's citywide bicycle sharing program – was the largest in the United States at the time of its launch in 2010, boasting 400 bicycles. [157] B-Cycle ridership peaked in 2014, then steadily declined. The program announced it would cease operations at the end of January 2020. [162] [163] [164] The city announced plans to seek one or more new contractors to run a bike-share program starting mid-2020. [165]

Electric rental scooters Edit

In 2018, electric scooter services began to place scooters in Denver. Hundreds of unsanctioned LimeBike and Bird electric scooters appeared on Denver streets in May, causing an uproar. In June, the city ordered the companies to remove them [166] and acted quickly to create an official program, making a requirement that scooters be left at RTD stops and out of the public right-of-way. Lime and Bird scooters then reappeared in late July, with limited compliance. Uber's Jump e-bikes arrived in late August, followed by Lyft's nationwide electric scooter launch in early September. [167] Lyft says that it will, each night, take the scooters to the warehouse for safety checks, maintenance and charging. Additionally, Spin and Razor each were permitted to add 350 scooters. [168]

Walkability Edit

2017 rankings by Walk Score placed Denver twenty-sixth among 108 U.S. cities with a population of 200,000 or greater. [160] City leaders have acknowledged the concerns of walkability advocates that Denver has serious gaps in its sidewalk network. The 2019 Denver Moves: Pedestrians plan outlines a need for approximate $1.3 billion in sidewalk funding, plus $400 million for trails. [169] Denver does not currently have resources to fully fund this plan. [170]

Modal characteristics Edit

In 2015, 9.6 percent of Denver households lacked a car, and in 2016, this was virtually unchanged (9.4 percent). The national average was 8.7 percent in 2016. Denver averaged 1.62 cars per household in 2016, compared to a national average of 1.8. [171]

Freeways and highways Edit

Denver is primarily served by the interstate freeways I-25 and I-70. The problematic intersection of the two interstates is referred to locally as "the mousetrap" because, when viewed from the air, the junction (and subsequent vehicles) resemble mice in a large trap.

  • Interstate 25 runs north–south from New Mexico through Denver to Wyoming
  • Interstate 225 traverses neighboring Aurora. I-225 was designed to link Aurora with I-25 in the southeastern corner of Denver, and I-70 to the north of Aurora, with construction starting May 1964 and ending May 21, 1976.
  • Interstate 70 runs east–west from Utah to Maryland. It is also the primary corridor on which Denverites access the mountains. A proposed $1.2 billion widening of an urban portion through a primarily low-income and Latino community has been met with community protests and calls to reroute the interstate along the less urban Interstate 270 alignment. They cite increased pollution and the negative effects of tripling the interstates large footprint through the neighborhood as primary objections. The affected neighborhood bisected by the Interstate was also designated the most polluted neighborhood in the country and is home to a Superfund site. [172]
  • Interstate 270 runs concurrently with US 36 from an interchange with Interstate 70 in northeast Denver to an interchange with Interstate 25 north of Denver. The freeway continues as US 36 from the interchange with Interstate 25.
  • Interstate 76 begins from I-70 just west of the city in Arvada. It intersects I-25 north of the city and runs northeast to Nebraska where it ends at I-80.
  • US 6 follows the alignment of 6th Avenue west of I-25, and connects downtown Denver to the west-central suburbs of Golden and Lakewood. It continues west through Utah and Nevada to Bishop, California. To the east, it continues as far as Provincetown, on Cape Cod in Massachusetts.
  • US 285 ends its 847 Mile route through New Mexico and Texas at Interstate 25 in the University Hills Neighborhood.
  • US 85 also travels through Denver. This Highway is often used as an alternate route to Castle Rock instead of taking Interstate 25.
  • U.S. Route 87 runs north and south and through Denver. It's concurrent with I-25 the entire length in the state.
  • US 36 connects Denver to Boulder and Rocky Mountain National Park near Estes Park. It runs east into Ohio, after crossing four other states.
  • State Highway 93 starts in the Western Metropolitan area in Golden, Colorado and travels almost 19 miles to meet with SH 119 in central Boulder. This highway is often used as an alternate route to Boulder instead of taking US 36.
  • State Highway 470 (C-470, SH 470) is the southwestern portion of the Denver metro area's beltway. Originally planned as Interstate 470 in the 1960s, the beltway project was attacked on environmental impact grounds and the interstate beltway was never built. The portion of "Interstate 470" built as a state highway is the present-day SH 470, which is a freeway for its entire length.

Denver also has a nearly complete beltway known as "the 470's". These are SH 470 (also known as C-470), a freeway in the southwest Metro area, and two toll highways, E-470 (from southeast to northeast) and Northwest Parkway (from terminus of E-470 to US 36). SH 470 was intended to be I-470 and built with federal highway funds, but the funding was redirected to complete conversion of downtown Denver's 16th Street to a pedestrian mall. As a result, construction was delayed until 1980 after state and local legislation was passed. [173] I-470 was also once called "The Silver Stake Highway", from Gov. Lamm's declared intention to drive a silver stake through it and kill it.

A highway expansion and transit project for the southern I-25 corridor, dubbed T-REX (Transportation Expansion Project), was completed on November 17, 2006. [174] The project installed wider and additional highway lanes, and improved highway access and drainage. The project also includes a light rail line that traverses from downtown to the south end of the metro area at Lincoln Avenue. [175] The project spanned almost 19 miles (31 km) along the highway with an additional line traveling parallel to part of I-225, stopping just short of Parker Road.

Metro Denver highway conditions can be accessed on the Colorado Department of Transportation website Traffic Conditions. [176]

Mass transportation Edit

Mass transportation throughout the Denver metropolitan area is managed and coordinated by the Regional Transportation District (RTD). RTD operates more than 1,000 buses serving over 10,000 bus stops in 38 municipal jurisdictions in eight counties around the Denver and Boulder metropolitan areas. Additionally, RTD operates eleven rail lines, the A, B, C, D, E, F, G, L, N, R, W, and H with a total of 57.9 miles (93.2 km) of track, serving 44 stations. The C, D, E, F, L, R, W and H lines are light rail while the A Line, B Line, G Line and N Line are commuter rail.

FasTracks is a commuter rail, light rail, and bus expansion project approved by voters in 2004, which will serve neighboring suburbs and communities. The W Line, or West line, opened in April 2013 serving Golden/Federal Center. The commuter rail A Line from Denver Union Station to Denver International Airport opened in April 2016 with ridership exceeding RTD's early expectations. [177] The light rail R Line through Aurora opened in February 2017. [178] The G Line to the suburb of Arvada opened on April 26, 2019 after being originally planned to open in the Fall of 2016. [179] The N Line to Commerce City and Thornton opened on September 21, 2020. [180]

An express bus service, known as the Flatiron Flyer, serves to connect Boulder and Denver. The service, billed as bus rapid transit, has been accused of bus rapid transit creep for failing to meet the majority of BRT requirements, including level boarding and all-door entry. A commuter rail connection to Boulder and its suburb of Longmont, also part of the FasTracks ballot initiative and an extension of the B Line, is planned to be finished by RTD, but no construction funds have yet been identified prior to 2040. [181] RTD is currently considering an interim commuter service which would run rush-hour trains from Longmont to Denver.

The Colorado Department of Transportation runs Bustang, a bus system that offers weekday and weekend service connecting Denver with Grand Junction, Colorado Springs, Fort Collins and Gunnison. [182]

Greyhound Lines, the intercity bus operator, has a major hub in Denver, with routes to New York City, Portland, Reno, Las Vegas, and their headquarters, Dallas. Subsidiary Autobuses Americanos provides service to El Paso. Allied bus operators Black Hills Trailways, and Burlington Trailways provide service to Billings, Omaha, Indianapolis, and Alamosa.

Amtrak, the national passenger rail system, provides service to Denver, operating its California Zephyr multiple times every week in both directions between Chicago and Emeryville, California, across the bay from San Francisco. The service usually runs daily but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the service was cut by Amtrak. Amtrak Thruway service operated by private bus companies links the Denver station with Rocky Mountain points. In 2017 the Colorado legislature reinvigorated studies of passenger rail service along the Front Range, potentially connecting Denver to Fort Collins and Pueblo, or further to Amtrak connections in Cheyenne, Wyoming and Trinidad. [183]

At Albuquerque, New Mexico, Denver Thruway connections are made daily with the Amtrak Southwest Chief. Additionally, the Ski Train operated on the former Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad, which took passengers between Denver and the Winter Park Ski Resort, but it is no longer in service. The Ski Train made its final run to Winter Park on March 29, 2009. The service was revived on a trial basis in 2016 with a great amount of local fanfare. Further development of a mountain corridor rail option, though publicly popular, has been met with resistance from politicians, namely the director of Colorado Department of Transportation [184] [ failed verification ] . The Ski Train did return to service under Amtrak with the name "Winter Park Express" in 2017, and currently runs only on Saturdays, Sundays, and major holidays during the winter ski seasons.

Denver's early years as a major train hub of the west are still very visible today. Trains stop in Denver at historic Union Station, where travelers can access RTD's 16th Street Free MallRide or use light rail to tour the city. Union Station will also serve as the main juncture for rail travel in the metro area, at the completion of FasTracks. The city also plans to invest billions to bringing frequent public transit within one-fourth of a mile of most of its residents. [185]

Denver public transportation statistics Edit

The average amount of time people spend commuting on public transit in Denver and Boulder, Colorado—for example, to and from work, on a weekday—is 77 minutes 31% of public transit riders ride for more than 2 hours every day. The average amount of time people wait at a stop or station for public transit is 14 minutes, while 25% of riders wait for over 20 minutes, on average, every day. The average distance people usually ride in a single trip with public transit is 6.96 miles (11.20 km), while 31% travel over 7.46 miles (12.01 km) in a single direction. [186]

Airports Edit

Denver International Airport (IATA: DEN, ICAO: KDEN), commonly known as DIA or DEN, serves as the primary airport for the Front Range Urban Corridor surrounding Denver. DIA is 18.6 miles (30 km) east-northeast of the Colorado State Capitol. DIA is the 20th busiest airport in the world and ranks 5th in the United States, with 64,494,613 passengers passing through it in 2018. [187] It covers more than 53 square miles (137.3 km 2 ), making it the largest airport by land area in the United States and larger than the island of Manhattan. [188] [189] Denver serves as a major hub for United Airlines, is the headquarters and primary hub for Frontier Airlines, and is a major focus city and the fastest-growing market for Southwest Airlines.

As of 2017, Denver International Airport has been rated by Skytrax as the 28th best airport in the world, falling to second place in the United States behind only Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport. Skytrax also named DIA as the second best regional airport in North America for 2017, and the fourth-best regional airport in the world.

Three general aviation airports serve the Denver area. Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport (KBJC) is 13.7 miles (22 km) north-northwest, Centennial Airport (KAPA) is 13.7 miles (22 km) south-southeast, and Colorado Air and Space Port formerly, Front Range Airport (KCFO) is 23.7 miles (38 km) east of the state capitol.

In the past, Denver has been home to several other airports that are no longer operational. Stapleton International Airport was closed in 1995 when it was replaced by DIA. Lowry Air Force Base was a military flight training facility that ceased flight operations in 1966, with the base finally being closed in 1994. Both Stapleton and Lowry have since been redeveloped into primarily residential neighborhoods. Buckley Air Force Base, a former Air National Guard base, is the only military facility in the Denver area.

  • The 2011–2020 television show Last Man Standing is set in Denver. The show often shows the Denver or nearby mountain skyline, and refers to Denver landmarks and institutions several times in the show.
  • A series of 30 Perry Masontelevision films often took place in Denver and the surrounding mountains. It aired on NBC from 1985 to 1995 as sequels to the CBS TV series Perry Mason. The series was often filmed in Denver. Viewers can see shots of the Denver City and County building among many other Denver and Colorado landmarks.
  • The headquarters of Blake Carrington's oil empire was set in Denver in the long running 1980s prime-time soapDynasty. [190] The series opening displays the 1980s Denver skyline.
  • The setting for the popular 2013 Identity Thief movie is primarily in Denver.
  • The movie We're the Millers is set in Denver. It is a 2013 American crime comedy film directed by Rawson M. Thurber and starring Jennifer Aniston, Jason Sudeikis, Emma Roberts, Will Poulter, Nick Offerman, Kathryn Hahn, Molly Quinn, and Ed Helms.
  • Sal Paradise, the main character in Jack Kerouac's acclaimed novel On the Road, visits Denver several times in the book as he travels between San Francisco and New York. [191]
  • In Tom Clancy's 1991 novel The Sum of All Fears, a terrorist group attempts to destroy Denver with a nuclear weapon while it is hosting the Super Bowl. They fail to destroy the city, but both teams and all spectators watching the game are killed. In the 2002 film version, the action takes place in Baltimore. [192]
  • The 1993 Clint Eastwood film In the Line of Fire features Denver in a scene where the president of the United States visits and holds a campaign rally at the Civic Center south of downtown. [193]
  • The 1995 movie Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead, starring Andy García and Christopher Lloyd is, as its title suggests, set in Denver.
  • The sitcom Good Luck Charlie (2010–2014) is set In Denver.
  • James Dashner's 2011 novel The Death Cure features Denver as a city protected from animal-behaving humans called Cranks, and the death zone of one of the main characters, Newt.
  • A large portion of Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance occurs in Denver.
  • In the alternate history TV series The Man in the High Castle (2015–2019), based on the novel by Philip K. Dick, Denver is featured as the capital of the neutral zone between the Japanese Pacific States and the Greater American Nazi Reich.
  • The 2016 TruTV show Those Who Can't is based in a fictional Denver high school and features many Denver-based comedians, including Ben Roy, Adam Cayton-Holland, and Andrew Orvedahl.
  • The animated sitcom South Park features Denver in some episodes.
  • In the Netflix TV series Money Heist, Denver is the name of one of the main characters.
  • The 2019 film A Dog's Way Home is set in Denver, chronicling a dog's two-year journey from New Mexico to return to her family in Denver.

Denver's relationship with Brest, France, began in 1948, making it the second-oldest sister city in the United States. [194] In 1947, Amanda Knecht, a teacher at East High School, visited World War II-ravaged Brest. When she returned, she shared her experiences in the city with her students, and her class raised $32,000 to help rebuild the children's wing of Brest's hospital. The gift led to the development of the sister city program with Brest. [195] There were serious efforts in the early 2000s, in both Denver and Sochi, Russian Federation, to establish sister-city ties, but the negotiations did not come to fruition.

Since then, Denver has established relationships with additional sister cities: [196]

Photos of Union Station

Looking down 17th Street towards the second Union Station building and the Mizpah Arch, circa 1908.

By Detroit Publishing Company via United States Library of Congress (Public Domain)

The arch at “Union Depot,” circa 1908.

(A.C. Roebuck. via Library of Congress)

A stereo photograph looking down 17th from California Street to “Union Depot.” Printed in 1906.

(Universal View Co., via Library of Congress)

A color postcard of Union Depot, printed in 1898.

By Scan by NYPL, Public Domain, Link

A stereo photograph of Union Depot from the late 1800s.

By Unknown – This image is available from the New York Public Library, Public Domain, Link

The welcome arch outside Union Station, circa 1908.

(Detroit Publishing Co. via Library of Congress)

An aerial view of Union Depot in this stereo photograph printed in the late 1800s.

By Unknown – This image is available from the New York Public Library, Public Domain, Link

Taxis lined up outside Union Station in September 1950.

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A man sits in the waiting area in July 1953.

[protected-iframe info=”//embed.gettyimages.com/embed/161899895?et=5W5tFCm0Rj5fqHQSgyo35A&tld=com&sig=87dXdQG8LN0zxAOG7uBG4rjRVXP3MF-BKcsmhYDCXqw=&caption=true&ver=1″ embed image”]

A view from behind the Union Station sign, showing current-day LoDo and downtown Denver.

(Getty Images)

Scaffolding around the exterior of Union Station during major renovations in 2013.

By Seraphimblade – Own work , CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Crews working on the Union Station renovation in 2011, on the future site of the open-air train hall.

(Getty Images)

Outside the renovated Union Station, showing the jet fountains.

(Getty Images)

A look down into the Great Hall in 2016, following Union Station renovations.

(Getty Images)

Inside Union Station in 2016, showing the Cooper Lounge above, and outside of the Terminal Bar below.

(Getty Images)

Inside the Great Hall in 2016, as people work in the public spaces outside the Terminal Bar.

(Getty Images)

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Denver Union Station - History

Denver County Colorado

Denver Union Station

Denver Depot 1882

Denver Union Station 1894 (after fire)

Denver's first train station was constructed in 1868 to serve the new Denver Pacific Railway, which connected Denver to the main transcontinental line at Cheyenne, Wyoming. By 1875, there were four different railroad stations, making passenger transfers between different railroad lines inconvenient. To remedy this issue, the Union Pacific Railroad proposed creating one central "Union Station" to combine the various operations. In February 1880, the owners of the four lines (the Union Pacific, the Denver & Rio Grande Western, the Denver, South Park & Pacific, and the Colorado Central) agreed to build a station at 17th and Wynkoop Streets. Architect A.Taylor of Kansas City was hired to develop the plans, and the station opened in May 1881.

A fire in 1894 destroyed the central portion of the 1881 depot. The Kansas City architectural firm of Van Brunt & Howe was hired to design a larger replacement depot in the Romanesque style. Both in 1881 and 1894 depots included a tall central clock tower with four clock faces.

In 1912, the original Union Depot partnership was dissolved and replaced by the Denver Terminal Railway Company, representing the then-major operators of the station (the Atchison, Topeka, & Sante Fe, the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy, the Chicago, Rock Island, & Pacific, the Colorado & Southern, the Union Pacific, and the Denver & Rio Grande Western). The new partnership decided to demolish and rebuild the central portion of the station to handle the increasing passenger traffic. The new central portion, designed by Denver architects Gove & Walsh, was buit in the Beaux-Arts style and opened in 1914.

During its heyday, the station was served by 80 daily trains operated by 6 different railroads however, most of this was terminated at the time of the formation of Amtrak, which has since operated only one train daily between Chicago and the Bay Area, routed through Denver. Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad's Ski Train was operated until the end of the winter of 2008-2009, at which time the operation was discontinued. In September 2009 plans were announced to revive the service as a special limited route beginning in December, but this did not happen due to insurance problems.

The station also serves the once a year Cheyenne Frontier Days Train , ususally pulled by Union Pacific's steam locomotive 844, the last steam locomotive built for Union Pacific. The train runs between Union Station adn Cheyenne, Wyoming for the Frontier Days Rodeo event.

Under a public/private consortium, the station and the surrounding 19.5 acres will soon be the hub of Denver's new FasTracks rail network, under the Regional Transportation District's master plan for the station site, officially known as the Denver Union Station. Eight teams of prominent architects, developers and engineers competed in 2002 for the massive contract to redevelop the station into a transit-oriented retail, office and residential complex, with a budget in the range of $900 million.

On July 30, 2010 the US Department of Transportation announced that the station had received a $300 million grant to construct 3 light-rail tracks and 8 heavy-rail tracks for both intercity and commuter rail services, as well as additional storage and servicing capabilities.

On February 1, 2011, Amtrak's passenger station and boarding platform were moved to a temporary station at 21st and Wewatta streets, behind Coors Field, in order to allow construction of the commuter rail tracks and platforms. This temporary relocation lasted until Feburary 28, 2014, when Amtrak's ticketing and pasenger services returned to the station.

The new light rail station opened on April 15, 2011, west of the former light rail stations and adjacent to the consolidated main line railroad tracks near the Denver Millennium Bridge. The westernmost stop of the 16th Street Mall shuttle, also known as the MallRide, was also moved west and is adjacent to the new light rail stop.

The main historic building closed to the public on December 1, 2012 for construction. The majority of the terminal building's upper levels will become The Crawford Hotel, with the Great Hall on the ground level serving as the hotel lobby. The building will also have resturants and shops on the first floor.

The full redevelopment, designed an built by Milender White Construction Company and managed by the Union Station Alliance, is planned to be completed by the middle of 2014.
Source: Wikipedia

Facts: Current and Historical
The city's first Union Station cost $525,000 for the Union Depot and Railroad Company to build on June 1, 1881. We are now investing $500 million for Denver Union Station. It was the largest building in Denver at the time.

The original Denver Union Station, built in 1881, burned on March 18, 1894, when a fire ignited the electrical system in the ladies' restroom.

On July 4, 1906, Mayor Robert Speer dedicated the Welcome Arch in front of Union Station. The arch was 65 foot high, 85 foot wide gateway structure with 2,194 light bulbs, and served as Denver's "front door".

Presidents Eisenhower, Taft and Theodore Roosevelt were among the famous who came by train into Union Station.

The original chandeliers were 8 feet across.

The plaster arches that line the walls of the center room have 2,300 carved Columbine flowers in them.

In 1902, Denver Union Station depot police began enforcing a "no kissing" rule on platforms because it slowed down the trains.

World War II passenger traffic sweeled almost to a gridlock with 24,000 people a day.

With 80 trains daily, the station was always in motion serving more than a million pasengers a year during the early 1900s. It is now projected to serve 200,000 passenger per day (in and out of Denver Union Station) in 2030 with 500 trains per day. That's roughly 50 million passengers a year!

Not until 1958 did passenger traffic at Stapleton Airport exceed taht at Denver Union Station. This is when DUS placed on both sides of the building "Travel by Train" signs to advertise commercial intercity trains.

Denver Union Station was designated as a City of Denver landmark on October 4, 2004.
Source: FasTracks Regional Transportation District of Denver

Mizpah Arch: A gateway to Denver’s past and future

Arch rivals: The St. Louis Gateway Arch, left, commemorates settlers who passed through the region during the era of westward expansion. Below, Paris' Arc de Triomphe honors soldiers who returned (and didn't) from the Napoleonic Wars.

Caption: Internationally known designer Mario Botta designed the ' Millennium Marker' sculpture as shown in the model. The rectangular perforated sandstone and granite slabs would be 35 feet high and separated by a pool with fountain features Photographer: ANDERSON MASON DALE Credit: SPECIAL TO THE DENVER POST Keyword: PUBDATE____1999_10_20

The Arc de Triomphe in Paris Photo credit: iStockphoto.com

Mizpah Welcom Arch rendering. For Penny column.

The great architectural challenge for every city is balancing the things it ought to build with the things it needs to save. Most often, proponents of preservation and progress battle to outweigh one another.

The proposal by a private citizen’s group to re-create Union Station’s legendary Mizpah Arch &mdash the towering, lit-up, metal gate that welcomed rail travelers to Denver decades ago &mdash is the rare project that drops a few pounds on both sides of the scale.

On one hand, it would be something new. The old arch has been gone longer than Prohibition, and rebuilding it would be a major construction project starting from the ground up &mdash up to six or seven stories high, that is.

On the other hand, it is a bit of retroactive nostalgia. Its aim is to hold on to a piece of the past, 25 prosperous years starting in 1906, when trains ruled transportation and Union Station was the city’s unofficial front door.

Which side of the scale a new arch would tip toward &mdash history or the future &mdash depends on how it might be realized. Will it be a straightforward replica, a grand idea that has gained serious civic backing? Or will it be an entirely new design, a more modern object that captures the present day?

Or might it be both? Could a new structure be something that offers a nod to great moments past, but pushes toward new and interesting days ahead?

As the Denver Union Station Project Authority continues its $500 million transformation of the land into a regional transportation hub, the answer &mdash to this million dollar question perhaps &mdash will likely come soon.

Arches embody architecture at its most artful. If buildings are a mix of form and function, these structures are nearly all about how they look. They exist as symbols mostly, meant to shout, “this is the place.”

From the great Arc de Triomphe in Paris to the sleek St. Louis Gateway Arch, they can put a city on the map, recalling the heroic efforts of those who entered before and inviting others to follow their lead.

The Mizpah Arch provided this metaphoric service to millions in its day. Built by a consortium of local business interests for $22,500, the arch used 70 tons of steel and cladding and 2,194 light bulbs (or around that histories give varying numbers and materials on all the details).

It was as big &mdash wider than a basketball court is long &mdash as it was fancy: two square columns supporting a decorative beam, buttressed on each side by similar, scaled-down doorways, and capped with two blossoming finials. Its crown: an elegant clock encased in a metal filigree.

The arch, Mayor Robert Speer declared at the time, would stand “for ages as an expression of love, good wishes and kind feelings of our citizens to the stranger who enters our gates.”

Set in front of the station at the hub of 17th Street, the arch originally featured the word “WELCOME” on both sides. Later, the departure side was changed to “MIZPAH,” a Hebrew word expressing the emotional bond between people who are separated.

The arch didn’t quite make it through Speer’s “ages.” Cars got bigger, downtown busier, and in 1931, the structure, a bit dilapidated, was deemed a traffic hazard and torn down. Today, Denverites know it only from black-and-white photos, but its majestic stance captures the imagination and evokes a city during a time of possibilities.

Lately, it has captured the imagination of local movers and shakers, including the watchdog group Union Station Advocates, which wants to reconstruct it on the Union Station grounds.

This is a heavyweight group of supporters to say the least, denizens who have earned their stripes through successful projects downtown, including Dana Crawford, the developer credited with saving LoDo, businessman Evan Makovsky, historian Tom Noel, architect Jim Johnson.

The group has plunged ahead, drawing up preliminary sketches of the original arch and raising the money to pay for it. A fundraiser last month netted $70,000, Crawford said.

“I’m absolutely certain that this will happen,” said Crawford. “But where, when and how much, I don’t know.”

Late to the planning party

There is a problem, however. The arch comes late &mdash very late &mdash to the plan to overhaul Union Station. Since 2001, the Regional Transportation District has been working to transform the site into a modern transit mecca. Hundreds of thousands of dollars have been spent on a carefully laid program involving architects, developers and urban planners. It is a thoroughly contemporary update, meant to take Denver through the 21st century.

And it does not include a nostalgic, 60-foot arch.

Where would such an arch go? Probably not in front at 17th and Wynkoop streets, where it didn’t work 70 years ago. Union Station Advocates’ latest idea is to put it on the west side at 17th and Wewatta streets.

Bill Mosher, who works for Trammell Crow, the company overseeing the station’s redevelopment, notes the arch’s hurdles: its expense, appropriateness and functionality. Adding a symbolic front door, he points out, could actually confuse folks looking for the real one.

The authority isn’t outwardly quashing the arch idea. In fact, it stresses openness and supported the recent fundraiser. But it is not rushing to make room either. Mosher believes an arch could come after the station is reopened around 2013.

“We are building a new infrastructure that’s going to be the center of downtown for a hundred years,” he said. “It’s going to take 20 years for things to build up around it.”

This isn’t the first time the idea of replacing the arch has come up. In 1999, at the request of local architects, respected Italian designer Mario Botta proposed a modern version of the arch to the Denver public. Botta’s “Millennium Marker” consisted of large granite slabs, tilted toward each other, with fountains spewing water into the center.

It was a disaster. The design impressed local building buffs, LoDo developers and city leaders, including Crawford and pre-mayor John Hickenlooper, who went on record supporting it.

But local business people sunk the idea. It was, they thought, out of character with the Western-industrial architecture of downtown.

Of course, Denver was a different city a decade ago. The Daniel Libeskind-designed art museum and the angular Colorado Convention Center were yet to be built. There was no Spire high-rise or Ellie Caulkins Opera House. Buildings that mixed modern and traditional ideas certainly existed, but not on the scale the city has learned to appreciate.

Moreover, the area around Union Station had not yet been turned on its head, filled with thousands of interesting and contemporary lofts and townhomes. The gleaming 23-story Glass House condo complex wasn’t even conceived now it dominates the skyline.

Would Botta’s design &mdash or something better &mdash get a warmer reception in an updated LoDo? Possibly. City laws that favor art and artists will require Union Station to spend $2 million or more on art around the building. If the works Denver chose for its recent new justice and convention centers are any indication, expect contemporary pieces to lead the way &mdash not replicated arches.

The rebirthed Mizpah Arch is far from a done deal. No one is quite sure how it would be built, what it would be made of.

Union Station Advocates has to raise a lot of money. It has to convince the Project Authority of its merit. But it is a safe bet the group has the clout to get it all done. Mayor Hickenlooper showed up at their fundraiser so did folks like Tami Door from the Downtown Denver Partnership and David Ehrlich, co-executive director of the fledgling Denver Theatre District.

How much public discussion will take place around the idea remains to be seen, as well. For sure, the group is open to talking. It goes out of its way to invite the public to its meetings.

But so far there isn’t much to discuss. What is missing from the conversation is an alternative. No one has put forward a design that combines Botta’s new ideas with Denver’s old-school traditions. Throughout downtown, scores of buildings borrow elements from the historic structures around them combining the old and new is a standard trick for architects. An arch that does the same is entirely possible.

Union Station Advocates has no responsibility here to create or back anything other than what it sees fit. It is not in charge of art it just believes replicating the arch would be good for the city.

But if the group can raise a million dollars for a commemorative arch on public property, investigating alternatives may be in everybody’s best interest.

The same goes for the Project Authority. If a citizen’s group is willing to step forward and fund something different, a bit more enthusiasm could land the agency a piece closer to the architectural style it is going for.

If there’s a lesson from the Botta episode, it is that a project like this needs collaboration as well as the determination of connected folks who know how to get their way.

“When support for this project got rolling, nobody came to us asking what we thought about it,” Denver businessman Dave Schumacher said back in 1999 when he lobbied against the Botta arch.

“I’m amazed at how far the bandwagon of support for this project has gotten. And I’d guess that this will be settled as a political and public-relations &mdash rather than an aesthetic &mdash issue.”

In the end, he was right. But hopefully, history won’t repeat itself.

Union Station’s early years

1870 Trains begin arriving at Union Station

1881 First Union Station built

1894 The station is reconstructed after a fire

1906 The Welcome Arch, also known as the Mizpah Arch, is built

1931 The Mizpah Arch is torn down

2001 RTD took over the management of the site. Since then, it has been working to turn it into a regional transportation hub for bus and rail service.

Watch the video: 4K Denver Union Station walking tour (May 2022).


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