Denver officially the City and County of Denver, is the and of the of . Denver is located in the on the western edge of the just east of the of the . The Denver downtown district is located immediately east of the confluence of with the , approximately 12 mi (19 km) east of the of the Rocky Mountains. Denver is the Mile-High City because its official elevation is exactly one mile (5,280 ft or 1,610 m) above sea level, making it one of the highest major cities in the United States. The , the longitudinal reference for the , passes directly through .

Denver is ranked as a by the . With a 2015 estimated population of 682,545, Denver ranks as the , and with a 2.8% increase in 2015, the city is also the fastest growing major city in the United States. The 10-county had an estimated 2015 population of 2,814,330 and ranked as the . The 12-city had an estimated 2015 population of 3,418,876, which ranks as the . Denver is the most populous city of the 18-county , an oblong urban region stretching across two states with an estimated 2015 population of 4,757,713. Denver is the most populous city within a 500-mile (800 km) radius in the and the second-most populous city in the after . In 2016, Denver was named the best place to live in the USA by U.S. News & World Report.

Denver City was founded in November 1858 as a during the in western . That summer, a group of gold prospectors from , had arrived and established on the banks of the . 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 (named after the gold mining town of ), and St. Charles City.

On November 22, 1858, , a land speculator from eastern , placed logs to stake a claim on the bluff overlooking the confluence of the South Platte River and , 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 . Larimer hoped that the town's name would help make it the 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 and . The site of these first towns is now the site of 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 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. 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, furthered Denver's dominance of the region by choosing the city for its regional terminus.

The was created on February 28, 1861, was formed on November 1, 1861, and Denver City was incorporated on November 7, 1861. Denver City served as the Arapahoe County Seat from 1861 until in 1902. In 1867, Denver City became the . With its new-found importance, Denver City shortened its name to Denver. On August 1, 1876, Colorado was .

"Pioneer Mothers of Colorado" statue at building

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 , , 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.

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 , 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 , 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. 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.

Panorama of Denver, 1898

Between 1880 and 1895 the city experienced a huge rise in corruption, as crime bosses, such as , worked side by side with elected officials and the police to control elections, gambling, and bunco gangs. The city also experienced a after the crash of silver prices. In 1887, the precursor to the international charity was formed in Denver by local religious leaders who raised funds and coordinated various charities to help Denver's poor. By 1890, Denver had grown to be the second-largest city west of . In 1900, whites represented 96.8% of Denver's population.

Between the 1880s and 1930s, Denver's floriculture industry developed and thrived. This period became known locally as the .

In 1901, the voted to split Arapahoe County into three parts: a new City and County of Denver, a new , and the remainder of the Arapahoe County to be renamed . A ruling by the , subsequent legislation, and a delayed the creation of the City and County of Denver until November 15, 1902.

Denver has hosted the twice, during the years of , and again in , taking the opportunity to promote the city's status on the national, political, and socioeconomic stage.

Early in the 20th century, Denver, like many other cities, was home to a pioneering company. The made cars copied from the contemporary .

From 1953 to 1989, the , a nuclear weapon facility formerly located about 15 miles from Denver, produced "" for . A major fire at the facility in 1957, as well as leakage from stored at the site between 1958 and 1968, resulted in the , to varying degrees, with , a harmful radioactive substance with a half-life of 24,200 years. 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. Plutonium contamination was still present outside the former plant site as of August 2010[update], and presents risks to building the envisioned Jefferson Parkway, which would complete Denver's automotive .

Downtown Denver cityscape, 1964. Includes Denver's oldest church (Trinity United Methodist), first building of the Mile High Center complex, Lincoln Center, old brownstone part of the Brown Palace Hotel, and Cosmopolitan Hotel – since demolished.

Denver was selected in 1970 to host the 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 , 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 , who was subsequently elected to three terms (1975–87) as . Denver explored a potential bid for the , but no bid will be submitted. In 2010, Denver adopted a comprehensive update of its zoning code. The new zoning was developed to guide development as envisioned in adopted plans such as Blueprint Denver, 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 industry of the high-plains region in eastern Colorado and along the foothills of the . Several ships have been named in honor of the city.


Denver is located in the center of the , between the to the west and the 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 the city has a total area of 155 square miles (401 km), of which 153 square miles (396 km) is land and 1.6 square miles (4.1 km) (1.1%) is water. The City and County of Denver is surrounded by only three other counties: to the north and east, to the south and east, and 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 (GNIS) and the , the city's elevation is 5,278 feet (1,609 m), which is reflected on various websites such as that of the .


See also:

Denver's 78 official neighborhoods

As of January 2013, the City and County of Denver has defined 78 official 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 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, , which has larger areas that house the neighborhoods (IE: Northwest Side). Denver residents use the terms "north" "south" "east" and "west".

Construction along Cherokee Street in the Golden Triangle neighborhood.

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 (short for "Lower Downtown"), part of the city's ; Uptown, straddling and ; Curtis Park, part of the neighborhood; , the northern part of the ; , a successful example of intentional racial integration; and , in the Civic Center.

Adjacent counties, municipalities and CDP


View of downtown Denver after a snowstorm in March 2016, looking northwest from .

Denver lies within the , climate zone ( ). It has four distinct seasons and receives a modest amount of precipitation spread throughout the year. Due to its inland location on the , at the foot of the , Denver, like all cities along the eastern edge of the Rocky Mountains, is subject to sudden changes in weather. Contrary to the popular belief that Denver receives 300 days of sunshine a year, the city can actually expect to receive an average of 115 clear days, 130 partly cloudy days, and 120 cloudy days each year.

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, 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 a daily average temperature of 29.9 °F (−1.2 °C). Winters consist of periods of snow and very low temperatures alternating with periods of milder weather due to the warming effect of . In winter, daytime highs can exceed 60 °F (16 °C) but can also often fail to reach 32 °F (0 °C) during periods of cold weather and can even fail to rise above 0 °F (−18 °C) on occasion. On the coldest nights of the year, lows can easily 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. The average window for measurable (≥0.1 in or 0.25 cm) snow is October 17 through 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 . Due to the city's high elevation and aridity, is large throughout the year.

are rare west of the I-25 corridor; however, one notable exception was an 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 () can see a few tornadoes, often weak tornadoes, each spring and summer—especially during June with the enhancement of the (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. Heavy weather from the DCVZ can disrupt airport operations. In a study looking at 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 . In fact, Denver has received two of the top 10 in United States history which occurred on July 11, 1990 and July 20, 2009, respectively.

Based on 30-year averages obtained from 's for the months of December, January and February, ranked Denver the 18th coldest major U.S. city as of 2014

As of the , the population of the City and County of Denver was 600,158, making it the . The had an estimated 2013 population of 2,697,476 and ranked as the , and the larger had an estimated 2013 population of 3,277,309 and ranked as the . Denver is the most populous city within a centered in the city and of 550 miles (885 km) magnitude. Denverites is a term used for residents of Denver.

According to the , the City and County of Denver contains 600,158 people and 285,797 households. The population density is 3,698 inhabitants per square mile (1,428/km²) including the airport. There are 285,797 housing units at an average density of 1,751 per square mile (676/km²). 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.

According to the , the racial composition of Denver was as follows:

  • : 68.9% (: 52.2%)
  • (of any race): 31.8%; 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, 31.2% were , 14.6% of the population were of ancestry, 9.7% were of ancestry, 8.9% were of ancestry, and 4.0% were of ancestry.

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 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.


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


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. Denver's economy is based partially on its geographic position and its connection to some of the major transportation systems of the country. 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 , , as well as all . Another benefit for distribution is that Denver is nearly equidistant from large cities of the , such as Chicago and and some large cities of the , 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 . (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 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 after a change of ownership in 2006. The , founded in Denver in 1911, is now a part of telecommunications giant .

purchased the in 1987; the company is based in Denver. The , the world's largest producer of automotive belts and hoses, was established in S. Denver in 1919. Inc. 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 began operations at Denver's old in 1950. was reincarnated at in 1994. Scott's Liquid Gold, Inc., has been making furniture polish in Denver since 1954. restaurants began as a single pancake house in Denver in 1958. , LLC, of opened its first franchise in 1962 in Denver. sold its first diamond jewelry in 1971 in Denver. Corp., a manufacturer of insulation and roofing products, relocated its headquarters to Denver from New York in 1972. Inc., an engineering and construction firm, relocated from Oregon to the in 1980. The sold its glass business in Indiana in the 1990s and moved to suburban . Ball has several operations in greater Denver.

established its U.S. headquarters in Denver in 2005. Its subsidiary and regional distributor, Coors Distributing Company, is in NW Denver. The , the 2nd largest gold producer in North America and one of the largest in the world, is headquartered in Denver.

Large Denver-area employers that have headquarters elsewhere include Corp., , Co. and , Inc. , an online site for maps, directions and business listings, is headquartered in Denver's LoDo district.

Development in the bustling Union Station section of downtown.

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 . The Denver area is home to the former nuclear weapons plant , the , , the , and the .

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

Denver's position near the mineral-rich encouraged mining and energy companies to spring up in the area. In the early days of the city, gold and silver booms and busts played a large role in the economic success of the city. In the 1970s and early 1980s, the energy crisis in America and resulting high oil prices created an energy boom in Denver captured in the soap opera . 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 dropped with it, leaving almost 15,000 oil industry workers in the area unemployed (including former mayor and current governor , a former geologist), and the highest office vacancy rate in the nation (30%). Since then, the industry has recovered and there remain 700 employed petroleum engineers in the region. 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 , , , , , , and headquartered or having significant operations in the area.

The first Chipotle Mexican Grill near the campus of the

Denver's west-central geographic location in the Mountain Time Zone (UTC−7) also benefits the telecommunications industry by allowing communication with both North American coasts, South America, Europe, and Asia in the same business day. Denver's location on the 105th meridian at over 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. , , , , and 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. Denver had one of the lowest unemployment rates in the nation at 3.8% in October 2007. As of April 2015, the unemployment rate for the Denver-Aurora-Broomfield MSA is 4.2%. The Downtown region has seen increased real estate investment with the construction of several new skyscrapers set to be completed in 2010–2013.

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. , , and were founded and headquartered in Denver. , , and originated in Denver, but have moved their headquarters to the nearby suburbs of , , and .

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

Culture and contemporary life

Denver Pavilions is a popular arts, entertainment, and shopping center on the in downtown Denver.

Apollo Hall opened quickly after the city's founding in 1859 and staged many plays for eager settlers. In the 1880s built Denver's first . 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 and is now known as the . Denver and the metropolitan areas around it continued to support culture. In 1988, voters in the approved the Scientific and Cultural Facilities Tax (commonly known as SCFD), a 1 cent 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 is home to many nationally recognized museums, including a new wing for the by world-renowned architect , the second largest in the nation after in New York City and bustling neighborhoods such as , filled with art galleries, restaurants, bars and clubs. That is part of the reason why Denver was recently 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 painter in 2004 and built a museum to exhibit his works near the Denver Art Museum. The currently holds an aquamarine specimen valued at over one million dollars, as well as specimens of the state mineral, rhodochrosite. Every September the Denver Mart, located at 451 E. 58th Avenue hosts a gem and mineral show. The state history museum, , opened in April 2012. It features hands-on and interactive exhibits, artifacts and programs about Colorado history. It was named in 2013 by as one of the top-ten "must see" history museums in the country. History Colorado's Museum and the 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).

The on Santa Fe Drive

in downtown Denver

While Denver may not be as recognized for historical musical prominence as some other American cities, it still manages to have a very active pop, , , , and scene, which has nurtured several artists and genres to regional, national, and even international attention. Of particular note is Denver's importance in the of the 1960s and 1970s. Well-known folk artists such as , and lived in Denver at various points during this time, and performed at local clubs. Also, three members of the widely popular group are from Denver. More recent Denver-based artists include , , , , , , , and .

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 restaurants in the region have on-site breweries, and some of the larger brewers offer tours, including and . The city also welcomes visitors from around the world when it hosts the annual 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 , 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 and hosts four large celebrations: (with over 500,000 attendees), in May, , in September, the annual show, and the art shows/events in North Denver's neighborhood, and the neighborhood in the original section of West Denver.

Denver is also famous for its dedication to and the chile. It's best known for its green and red chile sauce, , Southwest (Denver) , breakfast burrito, , and . Denver is also well known for other types of food such as , , and the .

The in July, in September and are annual events in Denver for the Chinese and Asian residents. Chinese hot pot (huo guo) and BBQ restaurants have been growing in popularity. The Denver area has 2 Chinese newspapers, the and the .

Denver is the setting for , and of MTV's . It was also the setting for the prime time drama from 1981 to 1989 (although the show was mostly filmed in Los Angeles). From 1998 to 2002 the city's was home to the series , which spun off three one-off documentary specials and the current Animal Planet series .


Denver is home to a variety of sports teams and is one of the (the Denver metro area is the smallest metropolitan area to have a team in all four major sports). The of the have drawn crowds of over 70,000 since their origins in the early 1960s, and continue to draw fans today to their current home . The Broncos have sold out every home game (except for strike-replacement games) since 1970. The Broncos have advanced to eight and won back-to-back titles in 1997 and 1998, and won again in 2015.

The were created as an expansion franchise in 1993 and 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 to Denver for the first time but were swept in four games by the .

Denver is also home to the , a National Hockey League team that relocated from Quebec City in 1995. While in Denver, they have won two in 1996 and in 2001, and they play at . The of the also play at the Pepsi Center. The Major League Soccer team play in , an 18,000 seat opened for the 2007 MLS season, located 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 . They play in . In 2006, the Denver Outlaws won the Western Conference Championship. The of the National Lacrosse League play at the Pepsi Center. The plays at .

Denver submitted the winning bid to host the , but subsequently withdrew, giving it the dubious distinction of being the only city to back out after winning a bid to host the Olympics.

Parks and recreation

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

Chess players on the .

Many of Denver's parks were acquired from state lands in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This coincided with the movement, and Denver mayor (1904–12 and 1916–18) set out to expand and beautify the city's parks. Reinhard Schuetze was the city's first , and he brought his German-educated landscaping genius to , , and among others. Speer used Schuetze as well as other landscape architects such as and to design not only parks such as , but many city parkways and tree-lawns. All of this greenery was fed with water diverted through the city ditch.

started as a cemetery.

City Park.

In addition to the parks within Denver itself, the city acquired land for starting in the 1911s. Over the years, Denver has acquired, built and maintained approximately 14,000 acres (57 km) of mountain parks, including , which is known for its scenery and musical history revolving around the unique . Denver also owns the mountain on which the ski area is operated in , 67 miles (110 km) west of Denver. 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 in the 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 , most of which are managed by , a non-profit organization.

is the largest of the Denver Mountain Parks.

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 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 in 2001.

In its 2013 ParkScore ranking, , a national land conservation organization, reported that Denver had the 17th best park system among the 50 most populous U.S. cities.


Main article:

Denver City and County Building (circa 1941), looking west.

Denver City Hall Christmas lights, 1955

looking east.

Denver is a with a mayor elected on a ballot, a 13-member and an . The 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 .

Denver has a strong mayor/weak city council government. The mayor can approve or veto any ordinances or 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.

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


While Denver elections are non-partisan, have long held the majority sway on Denver politics with most officials elected citywide having Democratic Party affiliation. In federal elections, Denverites also tend to vote for Democratic candidates, voting for the Democratic Presidential nominee in every election since 1960 (excluding 1980 and 1972). The office of Denver's Mayor has been occupied by a Democrat since the municipal general election of 1963. Denver is represented at the federal level by congresswoman , a Democrat representing , which includes all of Denver and parts of .

was the mayor of Denver, Colorado, for two periods, the first from 1923 to 1931 and the second from 1935 to 1947. Stapleton was responsible for many civic improvements during his term, notably during his second stint as mayor when he had access to funds and manpower from the . 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 in his honor. Today, the airport no longer stands, but has been replaced by a neighborhood also named Stapleton. Stapleton Street continues to bear his name.

During the 1960s and 1970s, Denver was one of the epicenters of the . The boxer-turned-activist 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.

In recent years, Denver has taken a stance on helping people who are or become , particularly under the administrations of mayors and . 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, 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 legal for adults 21 and older. The city voted 53.5 percent in favor of the 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. 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. In 2012, 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.

Former Denver mayor John Hickenlooper was a member of the , an organization formed in 2006 and co-chaired by New York City mayor and Boston mayor .

Denver hosted the , which was the centennial of the city's first hosting of the landmark 1908 convention. It also hosted the (now G8) summit between June 20 and 22 in 1997 and the 2000 National Convention of the .

On October 31, 2011 it was announced that in Denver was selected as the host of the first of three 2012 presidential debates to be held on October 3, 2012.


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.


The Ritchie Center at University of Denver

See also:

(DPS) is the public school system in Denver. It currently educates about 73,000 students in 73 elementary schools, 15 K-8 schools, 17 , 14 high schools, and 19 . 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 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 , , , and . The private was the first institution of higher learning in the city and was founded in 1864. Other prominent Denver higher education institutions include , Catholic () 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 located throughout the surrounding metro area.


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

Television stations

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

  • , channel 2, is a affiliate owned by . Tribune also owns , the 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 .
  • , channel 6, is the flagship outlet of , a statewide network of stations. Programming on KRMA is rebroadcast to four other stations throughout Colorado.
  • , channel 7, is an affiliate owned by the , previously owned by the company from 1972 to January 2012.
  • , channel 9, is an affiliate, owned by . TEGNA also owns , the affiliate on channel 20.
  • , channel 12, is Denver's secondary PBS affiliate.
  • , channel 25, is a -owned station.
  • , channel 38, is a -owned station.
  • , channel 50, is the affiliate.
  • , channel 53, is a Christian station owned by the group.

Radio stations

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 ranking (up from No. 20 in Fall 2009). For a list of radio stations, see


After a continued rivalry between Denver's two main newspapers, the and , the papers merged operations in 2001 under a Joint Operating Agreement which formed the Denver Newspaper Agency until February 2009 when , the owner of the Rocky Mountain News closed the paper. There are also several alternative or localized newspapers published in Denver, including the and . Denver is home to multiple regional magazines such as , which takes its name from the city's mile-high (5,280 feet or 1,609 meters) elevation.


Dawn casts a glow over the west of downtown.

City streets

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Colfax Avenue at Broadway, where the downtown street grid and the "normal" city grid meet. Colfax Avenue carries through Denver.

Most of Denver has a straightforward oriented to the four . 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). , 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 and . Most of the streets downtown and in 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 . There is now a plaque across the street from the which 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 , the founder of Denver, which is located in the heart of , is the oldest street in Denver.

Speer Blvd runs north and south through downtown Denver

All roads in the downtown grid system are streets (e.g. , Stout Street). 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.

Many Denver streets have , and there are over 850 miles 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. In addition to the many bike paths, Denver launched B-Cycle – a city-wide 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.

The , a car-disabling device was first used in Denver.


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. has rated Denver as the third most bicycle-friendly large city in the United States. Many Denver streets have , and there are over 850 miles 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. 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 at 2.2% of commuters. In addition to the many bike paths, Denver launched B-Cycle – a city-wide 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. Through the acquisition of new grants, the program has continued to expand each year, adding dozens of new stations, hundreds of bikes, and by beginning service during the winter months.


A 2011 study by ranked Denver sixteenth most walkable of fifty largest U.S. cities.

Freeways and highways

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

  • runs north–south from through Denver to
  • 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.
  • runs east–west from to .
  • runs concurrently with from an interchange with in northeast Denver to an interchange with north of Denver. The freeway continues as from the interchange with .
  • begins from I-70 just west of the city in . It intersects I-25 north of the city and runs northeast to Nebraska where it ends at .
  • follows the alignment of 6th Avenue west of I-25, and connects downtown Denver to the west-central suburbs of and . It continues west through Utah and Nevada to Bishop, California. To the east, it continues as far as Provincetown, on Cape Cod in Massachusetts.
  • connects Denver to and near . It runs east into , after crossing four other states.
  • 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" that was built as a is the present-day SH 470, which is a for its entire length.

Denver also has a nearly complete beltway known as "the 470's". These are (also known as C-470), a freeway in the southwest Metro area, and two toll highways, (from southeast to northeast) and (from terminus of E-470 to ). SH 470 was originally intended to be I-470 and built with federal highway funds, but the funding was redirected to complete conversion of downtown Denver's to a pedestrian mall. As a result, construction was delayed until 1980 after state and local legislation was passed. 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 corridor, dubbed T-REX (), was completed on November 17, 2006. 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. The project spanned almost 19 miles (31 km) along the highway with an additional line traveling parallel to part of , stopping just short of Parker Road.

Metro Denver highway conditions can be accessed on the website Traffic Conditions.

Mass transportation

Denver RTD Light Rail car at the "Colfax at Auraria" station

throughout the is managed and coordinated by the (RTD). RTD currently operates more than 1,000 serving over 10,000 bus stops in 38 municipal jurisdictions in eight counties around the . Additionally, RTD operates seven lines, the A, C, D, E, F, W, and H with a total of 57.9 miles (93.2 km) of track, serving 44 stations. All lines are light rail except the A, a commuter rail line. is a light rail/bus/rail 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.

runs a bus system named Bustang that offers weekday service between Union Station in Denver, , , and .

Union Station train shed, designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, on opening day of the A line to DIA.

, the operator, has a major hub in Denver, with routes to , , , , and their headquarters, . Subsidiary provides service to . Allied bus operators Black Hills Trailways, and provide service to , , , and .

, the national passenger rail system, provides service to Denver, operating its daily in both directions between and , California, across the bay from San Francisco. Amtrak Thruway service operated by private bus companies links the Denver station with Rocky Mountain points.

At Albuquerque, New Mexico, Denver Thruway connections are made daily with the Amtrak . Additionally, the operated on the former , which took passengers between Denver and the Ski Resort, but it is no longer in service. The Ski Train made its final run to Winter Park on March 29, 2009.

Denver's early years as a major train hub of the west are still very visible today. Trains stop in Denver at historic , where travelers can access RTD's 16th Street Free Mall Ride or use light rail to tour the city. will also serve as the main juncture for rail travel in the metro area, at the completion of .


Inside the main terminal of

Outside view of the main terminal, DIA

(IATA: DEN, ICAO: KDEN), commonly known as DIA, serves as the primary airport for a large region surrounding Denver. DIA is located 18.6 miles (30 km) east-northeast of the . DIA is the tenth busiest airport in the world and ranks fourth in the United States, with 51,245,334 passengers passing through it in 2008. It covers more than 53 square miles (137.3 km), making it the largest airport by land area in the United States and larger than the island of . Denver serves as a major hub for , is the headquarters for , and is the fastest-growing for .

Three airports serve the Denver area. (KBJC) is 13.7 miles (22 km) north-northwest, (KAPA) is 13.7 miles (22 km) south-southeast, and (KFTG) is located 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. was closed in 1995 when it was replaced by DIA. was a military flight training facility that ceased flight operations in 1966, with the base finally being closed in 1994. It is currently being used for residential purposes. , a former base, is currently the only military facility in the Denver-Metro area.

Notable people

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Silverline V electric railcar for the A line at Denver's Union Station.

Sister cities

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Denver's relationship with , began in 1948, making it the second-oldest in the United States. Since then, Denver has established relationships with additional sister cities, and currently has a total of ten partnerships:

  • , France, (1948)
  • , Japan (1960)
  • , Kenya (1975)
  • , Israel (1977)
  • , Mexico (1983)
  • , Italy (1983)
  • , India (1984)
  • , China (1985)
  • , Ethiopia (1995)
  • , Mongolia (2001)

In addition to these, the (consisting of the city and 51 other local governments) has established a "sister city" relationship with the , one of 's eighteen provinces.