Denver, co

This article is about the capital of Colorado. For other uses, see Denver (disambiguation).

Denver
City-county
City and County of Denver
Sports Authority Field at Mile High, RTD Light Rail train Downtown.
Seal
Nickname(s): The Mile-High City[1] Queen City of the West, Queen City of the Plains,[2] Wall Street of the West[3]
State of Colorado
Denver
Denver
Location in the United States

Coordinates: 39°44′21″N 104°59′5″W / 39.73917°N 104.98472°W / 39.73917; -104.98472Coordinates: 39°44′21″N 104°59′5″W / 39.73917°N 104.98472°W / 39.73917; -104.98472

Country  United States
State  Colorado
City and County Denver[4]
Founded November 22, 1858, as Denver City, K.T.[5]
Incorporated 11/7/1861, as Denver City, C.T.[6]
Consolidated November 15, 1902, as the City and County of Denver
Named for James W. Denver
Government
 • Type Consolidated City and County[4]
 • Body Denver City Council
 • Mayor Michael Hancock (D)[7]
Area[5]
 • City-county 154.9 sq mi (401.3 km2)
 • Land 153.3 sq mi (397.2 km2)
 • Water 1.6 sq mi (4.1 km2)  1.03%
 • Metro 8,414.4 sq mi (21,793 km2)
Elevation[9] 5,130–5,690 ft (1,564–1,731 m)
Population (USCB estimate for July 1, 2012)[10]
 • City-county 634,265 (US: 23rd)
 • Density 4,044/sq mi (1,561/km2)
 • Metro 2,900,000[8] (US: 21st)
 • Demonym Denverite
Time zone MST (UTC−7)
 • Summer (DST) MDT (UTC−6)
ZIP codes 80201–80212, 80214–80239, 80241, 80243–80244, 80246–80252, 80256–80266, 80271, 80273–80274, 80279–80281, 80290–80291, 80293–80295, 80299, 80012, 80014, 80022, 80033, 80123, 80127[11]
Area code(s) Both 303 and 720
FIPS code 08-20000
GNIS feature ID 0201738
Highways I-25, I-70, I-76, I-225, I-270, US 6, US 40, US 85, US 285, US 287, SH 2, SH 26, SH 30, SH 35, SH 83, SH 88, SH 95, SH 121, SH 177, SH 265, SH 470, E-470
Website City and County of Denver
Most populous Colorado city
Second most populous Colorado county

The City and County of Denver (/ˈdɛnvər/; Arapaho: Niinéniiniicíihéhe')[12] is the largest city and the capital of the U.S. state of Colorado. Denver is also the second most populous county in Colorado after El Paso County. Denver is a consolidated city and county located in the South Platte River Valley on the western edge of the High Plains just east of the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains. The Denver downtown district is located immediately east of the confluence of Cherry Creek with the South Platte River, approximately 12 miles (19 km) east of the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. Denver is nicknamed the Mile-High City because its official elevation is exactly one mile or 5,280 feet (1,609.3 m) above sea level, making it one of the highest major cities in the United States.[5] The 105th meridian west of Greenwich passes through Union Station and is the temporal reference for the Mountain Time Zone.

With a 2012 estimated population of 634,265, Denver ranks as the 23rd most populous U.S. city.[13] The 10-county Denver-Aurora-Broomfield, CO Metropolitan Statistical Area had an estimated 2011 population of 2,599,504 and ranked as the 21st most populous U.S. metropolitan statistical area.[14] The 12-county Denver-Aurora-Boulder Combined Statistical Area had an estimated 2011 population of 3,157,520, which ranks as the 16th most populous U.S. metropolitan area.[15] Denver is the most populous city of the Front Range Urban Corridor, an oblong urban region stretching across three states with population of 5,467,633 in 2010.[10] Denver is the most populous city within a 500-mile (800 km) radius and the 3rd most populous city in the Mountain West and the Southwestern United States after Phoenix, Arizona and El Paso, Texas.

History

Main article: History of Denver



Denver City was founded in November 1858 as a mining town during the Pike's Peak Gold Rush in western Kansas Territory.[16] That summer, a group of gold prospectors from Lawrence, Kansas, had arrived and established Montana City on the banks of the South Platte River. This was the first settlement in what was later to become the city of Denver. The site faded quickly, however, and by the summer of 1859 it was abandoned in favor of Auraria (named after the gold mining town of Auraria, Georgia), and St. Charles City.

On November 22, 1858, General William Larimer, a land speculator from eastern Kansas Territory, placed cottonwood logs to stake a claim on the bluff overlooking the confluence of the South Platte River and Cherry Creek, across the creek from the existing mining settlement of Auraria, and on the site of the existing townsite of St. Charles. Larimer named the town site Denver City to curry favor with Kansas Territorial Governor James W. Denver.[17] Larimer hoped that the town's name would help make it the county seat of Arapaho County, but unknown to him Governor Denver had already resigned from office. The location was accessible to existing trails and was across the South Platte River from the site of seasonal encampments of the Cheyenne and Arapaho. The site of these first towns is now the site of Confluence Park in downtown Denver. Larimer, along with associates in the St. Charles City Land Company, sold parcels in the town to merchants and miners, with the intention of creating a major city that would cater to new emigrants. Denver City was a frontier town, with an economy based on servicing local miners with gambling, saloons, livestock and goods trading. In the early years, land parcels were often traded for grubstakes or gambled away by miners in Auraria.[17] 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,[18] Arapahoe County was formed on November 1, 1861,[18] and Denver City was incorporated on November 7, 1861.[19] Denver City served as the Arapahoe County Seat from 1861 until consolidation in 1902.[20] In 1867, Denver City became the Territorial Capital. With its new-found importance, Denver City shortened its name to Denver.[20] 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. A daunting 100 miles away, citizens mobilized to build a railroad to connect Denver to the transcontinental railroad. Spearheaded by visionary leaders including Territorial Governor John Evans, David Moffat, and Walter Cheesman, fundraising began. Within three days, $300,000 had been raised, and citizens were optimistic. Fundraising stalled before enough was raised, forcing these visionary leaders to take control of the debt-ridden railroad. Despite challenges, on June 24, 1870, citizens cheered as the Denver Pacific completed the link to the transcontinental railroad, ushering in a new age of prosperity for Denver.[21]

Finally linked to the rest of the nation by rail, Denver prospered as a service and supply center. The young city grew during these years, attracting millionaires with their mansions, as well as the poverty and crime of a rapidly growing city. Denver citizens were proud when the rich chose Denver and were thrilled that Horace Tabor, the Leadville mining millionaire, built an impressive business block at 16th and Larimer as well as the elegant Tabor Grand Opera House. Luxurious hotels, including the much-loved Brown Palace Hotel, soon followed, as well as splendid homes for millionaires like the Croke, Patterson, Campbell Mansion at 11th and Pennsylvania and the now-demolished Moffat Mansion at 8th and Grant.[22] Intent on transforming Denver into one of the world's great cities, leaders wooed industry and enticed laborers to work in these factories. Soon, in addition to the elite and a large middle class, Denver had a growing population of German, Italian, and Chinese laborers, soon followed by African-Americans and Spanish-surname workers. Unprepared for this influx, the Silver Crash of 1893 unsettled political, social, and economic balances, laying the foundation for ethnic bigotry, such as the Red Scare and the rise of the Ku Klux Klan, as well as corruption and crime.[23]

Between 1880 and 1895 the city experienced a huge rise in corruption, as crime bosses, such as Soapy Smith, worked side by side with elected officials and the police to control elections, gambling, and the bunko[24] gangs.[25] The city also experienced a depression in 1893 after the crash of silver prices. In 1887, the precursor to the international charity United Way was formed in Denver by local religious leaders who raised funds and coordinated various charities to help Denver's poor.[26] By 1890, Denver had grown to be the second-largest city west of Omaha, Nebraska, but by 1900 it had dropped to third place behind San Francisco and Los Angeles.[27] In 1900, whites represented 96.8% of Denver's population.[28]

In 1901, the Colorado General Assembly voted to split Arapahoe County into three parts: a new consolidated City and County of Denver, a new Adams County, and the remainder of the Arapahoe County to be renamed South Arapahoe County. A ruling by the Colorado Supreme Court, subsequent legislation, and a referendum delayed the creation of the City and County of Denver until November 15, 1902.[29]

Denver has hosted the Democratic National Convention twice, during the years of 1908, and again in 2008, taking the opportunity to promote the city's status on the national, political, and socioeconomic stage.[30]

Early in the 20th century, Denver, like many other cities, was home to a pioneering Brass Era car company. The Colburn Automobile Company made cars copied from the contemporary Renault.[31]

From 1953 to 1989, the Rocky Flats Plant, a DOE nuclear weapon facility formerly located about 15 miles from Denver, produced fissile plutonium "pits" for nuclear warheads. A major fire at the facility in 1957, as well as leakage from nuclear waste stored at the site between 1958 and 1968, resulted in the contamination of some parts of Denver, to varying degrees, with plutonium-239, a harmful radioactive substance with a half-life of 24,200 years.[32] A study by the Jefferson County health director, Dr. Carl Johnson, in 1981 linked the contamination to an increase in birth defects and cancer incidence in central Denver and nearer Rocky Flats. Later studies confirmed many of his findings.[33][34][35] Plutonium contamination was still present outside the former plant site as of August 2010,[36] and presents risks to building the envisioned Jefferson Parkway,[37] which would complete Denver's automotive beltway.

Denver was selected in 1970 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, which were subsequently moved to Innsbruck, Austria. The notoriety of becoming the only city ever to decline to host an Olympiad after being selected has made subsequent bids difficult. The movement against hosting the games was based largely on environmental issues and was led by State Representative Richard Lamm, who was subsequently elected to three terms (1975–87) as Colorado governor.[38] Denver explored a potential bid for the 2022 Winter Olympics,[39] but no bid will be submitted.[40] In 2010, Denver adopted a comprehensive update of its zoning code.[41] The new zoning was developed to guide development as envisioned in adopted plans such as Blueprint Denver,[42] Transit Oriented Development Strategic Plan, Greenprint Denver, and the Strategic Transportation Plan.

Denver has also been known historically as the Queen City of the Plains and the Queen City of the West, because of its important role in the agricultural industry of the high-plains region in eastern Colorado and along the foothills of the Colorado Front Range. Several US Navy ships have been named USS Denver in honor of the city.

Geography

Main article: Geography of Denver
Panorama of Denver in early May, as seen from the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. Mount Evans can be seen to the left beyond the city skyline.



Denver is located in the center of the Front Range Urban Corridor, between the Rocky Mountains to the west and the High Plains to the east. Denver's topography consists of plains in the city center with hilly areas to the northwest, west, south, and southeast. According to the United States Census Bureau the city has an area of 154.9 square miles (401.2 km2), of which 1.6 square miles (4.1 km2), or 1.03%, is water. The City and County of Denver is surrounded by only three other counties: Adams County to the north and east, Arapahoe County to the south and east, and Jefferson County to the west.

Although 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 feet (1,560 m) to 5,690 feet (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 that of the National Weather Service.[43]

Climate

Denver lies within the semi-arid, continental climate zone (Köppen climate classification BSk).[44] It has four distinct seasons and receives a modest amount of precipitation spread through the year. Due to its inland location on the High Plains, at the foot of the Rocky Mountains, Denver, like all cities along the eastern edge of the Rocky Mountains, is subject to sudden changes in weather.[45] The climate is very sunny, averaging 3,106 hours or 300 days of sunshine a year.[46] July is the warmest month, with a daily average temperature of 74.2 °F (23.4 °C). Summers range from mild to hot with occasional 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 a daily average temperature of 29.9 °F (−1.2 °C). Winters range from mild to occasional bitter cold, with periods of snow and low temperatures alternating with periods of relatively milder weather, the result of chinook winds. Episodes of 50 °F (10 °C)+ highs alternate with nights of sub-0 °F (−18 °C) lows. Snowfall is common throughout the late fall, winter and spring, averaging 53.5 inches (136 cm) for 1981−2010.[47] The average window for measurable (≥0.1 in or 0.25 cm) snow is October 17 thru April 27 although measurable snowfall has fallen in Denver as early as September 4 and as late as June 3. Extremes in temperature range from −29 °F (−34 °C) on January 9, 1875 up to 105 °F (41 °C) as recently as June 25 and 26, 2012.[48] Tornadoes are rare in Denver, though one notable exception was an F3 tornado that struck Downtown Denver on June 15, 1988.

NOTE - the above data were taken at Stapleton Airport until its closure, at which time Denver International Airport became the replacing station


Neighborhoods


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.[51] 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 start of the 20th 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. Most neighborhoods contain parks or other features that are the focal point for the neighborhood.

Denver does not have larger area designations, unlike the City of Chicago which has larger areas that house the neighborhoods (IE: Northwest Side). Denver residents use the terms "north" "south" "east" and "west" loosely.[52]

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;[53] and Golden Triangle, in the Civic Center.

Parks and recreation

As of 2006, Denver had over 200 parks, from small mini-parks all over the city to the giant 314 acres (1.27 km2) City Park.[54] Denver also has 29 recreation centers providing places and programming for resident's recreation and relaxation.[55]

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. All of this greenery was fed with South Platte River water diverted through the city ditch.[56]


In addition to the parks within Denver itself, the city acquired land for mountain parks starting in the 1911s.[57] Over the years, Denver has acquired, built and maintained approximately 14,000 acres (57 km2) of mountain parks, including Red Rocks Park, which is known for its scenery and musical history revolving around the unique Red Rocks Amphitheatre.[58][59] Denver also owns the mountain on which the Winter Park Resort ski area is operated in Grand County, 67 miles (110 km) west of Denver.[60] City parks are important places for both 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 Stapleton 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 from Chatfield Reservoir 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.[61]

In its 2013 ParkScore ranking, The Trust for Public Land, a national land conservation organization, reported that Denver had the 17th best park system among the 50 most populous U.S. cities.[62]

Demographics

Historical population
Census Pop.
18604,749
18704,7590.2%
188035,629648.7%
1890106,713199.5%
1900133,85925.4%
1910213,38159.4%
1920256,49120.2%
1930287,86112.2%
1940322,41212.0%
1950415,78629.0%
1960493,88718.8%
1970514,6784.2%
1980492,365−4.3%
1990467,610−5.0%
2000554,63618.6%
2010600,1588.2%
Est. 2012634,2655.7%
U.S. Decennial Census[63]
2012 Estimate[64]
Racial composition 2010[65] 1990[66] 1970[66]
White 68.9% 72.1% 89.0%
—Non-Hispanic 52.2% 61.4% 74.5% [67]
Black or African American 10.2% 12.8% 9.1%
Hispanic or Latino (of any race) 31.8% 23.0% 15.2%[67]

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.[68] The Denver-Aurora-Broomfield, CO Metropolitan Statistical Area had an estimated 2008 population of 2,506,626 and ranked as the 21st most populous U.S. metropolitan statistical area,[14] and the larger Denver-Aurora-Boulder Combined Statistical Area had an estimated 2008 population of 3,049,562 and ranked as the 16th most populous U.S. metropolitan area.[15] Denver is the most populous city within a radius centered in the city and of 550 miles (885 km) magnitude.[69] Denverites is a term used for residents of Denver.

According to census estimates, the City and County of Denver contains approximately 566,974 people (2006) and 239,235 households (2000). The population density is 3,698 inhabitants per square mile (1,428/km²) including the airport. There are 268,540 housing units (2005) at an average density of 1,751 per square mile (676/km²).[70] 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.[71]

According to the 2010 United States Census, the racial composition of Denver was as follows:[72]

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, 31.2% were Mexican, 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.[73]

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

Age distribution is 22.0% under the age of 18, 10.7% from 18 to 24, 36.1% from 25 to 44, 20.0% from 45 to 64, and 11.3% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 33 years. For every 100 females there are 102.1 males.

The median household income is $45,438, and the median family income is $48,195. Males have a median income of $36,232 versus $33,768 for females. The per capita income for the city is $24,101. 19.1% of the population and 14.6% of families are 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 are living below the poverty line.[74]

Languages

As of 2010, 72.28% (386,815) of Denver residents age 5 and older spoke English at home as a primary language, 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 German was spoken as a main language by 0.46% (2,465) of the population over the age of five. In total, 27.72% (148,335) of Denver's population age 5 and older spoke a mother language other than English.[75]

Panorama of downtown Denver, circa 2007, looking east at the intersection of Auraria Pkwy. and Speer Blvd.