Content courtesy of Wikipedia.org
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. 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.
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. 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. Most neighborhoods contain parks or other features that are the focal point of 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”.
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; and Golden Triangle, in the Civic Center.
A 2011 study by Walk Score ranked Denver sixteenth most walkable of fifty largest U.S. cities, though massive gaps in the cities sidewalks remain an oft-discussed issue. Many walkability advocates believe the city’s need for pedestrian infrastructure is only growing as Denver and the Colorado Department of Transportation place the needs of cars over the needs of people by widening roads or the purposeful plowing of snow onto sidewalks during winter storms.
The League of American Bicyclists has rated Colorado as the sixth most bicycle-friendly state in the nation for the year 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. Walk score has rated Denver as the third most bicycle-friendly large city in the United States. 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. B-Cycle – Denver’s citywide bicycle sharing program – was the largest in the United States at the time of its launch, boasting 400 bicycles. Through the acquisition of new grants, the program has expanded each year, adding dozens of new stations, hundreds of bikes, and by beginning service during the winter months.
Denver is home to a variety of sports teams and is one of the 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). 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 Sports Authority Field at Mile High. The Broncos have sold out every home game (except for strike-replacement games) since 1970. 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 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. The Rapids won the MLS Cup in 2010.
Denver has several additional professional teams. In 2006 Denver established a Major League Lacrosse team, the Denver Outlaws. They play in Sports Authority Field at Mile High. In 2006, the Denver Outlaws won the Western Conference Championship. The Colorado Mammoth of the National Lacrosse League play at the Pepsi Center.
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. Denver and Colorado Springs hosted the 1962 World Ice Hockey Championships.
Denver Public Schools (DPS) is the public school system in Denver. It educates about 73,000 students in 73 elementary schools, 15 K-8 schools, 17 middle schools, 14 high schools, and 19 charter schools. 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. The Cherry Creek School District serves some areas with Denver postal addresses that are outside the city limits.
Denver’s many colleges and universities range in age and study programs. Three major public schools constitute the Auraria Campus, 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.
Apollo Hall opened soon after the city’s founding in 1859 and staged many plays for eager settlers. 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. The tax was renewed by voters in 1994 and 2004 and allows the SCFD to operate until 2018.
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. 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. 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. The state history museum, History Colorado Center, opened in April 2012. It features hands-on and interactive exhibits, artifacts and programs about Colorado history. It was named in 2013 by True West Magazine as one of the top-ten “must see” history museums in the country. History 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).
While Denver may not be as recognized for historical musical prominence as some other American cities, it has an active pop, jazz, jam, folk, and classical music scene, which has nurtured several artists and genres to regional, national, and even international attention. Of particular note is 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. Also, three members of the widely popular group Earth, Wind, and Fire are from Denver. More recent Denver-based artists include The Lumineers, Air Dubai, The Fray, Flobots, Cephalic Carnage, Axe Murder Boyz, Deuce Mob, and Five Iron Frenzy.
Because of its proximity to the mountains and generally sunny weather, Denver has gained a reputation as being a very active, outdoor-oriented city. Many Denver residents spend the weekends in the mountains; 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), 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’s best known for its green and red chile sauce, Colorado burrito, Southwest (Denver) omelette, breakfast burrito, 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 residents. Chinese hot pot (huo guo) and Korean BBQ restaurants have been growing in popularity. The Denver area has 2 Chinese newspapers, the Chinese American Post and the Colorado Chinese News.
Denver is the setting for The Bill Engvall Show, 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.
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. Denver also has 29 recreation centers providing places and programming for resident’s recreation and relaxation.
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.
In addition to the parks within Denver, the city acquired land for mountain parks starting in the 1911s. 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. Denver also owns the mountain on which the Winter Park Resort ski area operates in Grand County, 67 miles (110 km) west of Denver. 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 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.
In its 2013 ParkScore ranking, The Trust for Public Land, a national land conservation organization, reported Denver had the 17th best park system among the 50 most populous U.S. cities.