for James W. Denver, Governor of Kansas Territory, of which
eastern Colorado was then a part. Other gold discoveries sparked a mass
migration of some 100,000 in 1859-60, leading the federal government to
establish Colorado Territory in 1861.
Denverites built a network of railroads that made their town the banking, minting, supply and processing center not only for Colorado, but for neighboring states. Between 1870 when the first railroads arrived and 1890, Denver grew from 4,759 to 106,713. In a single generation, it became the second most populous city in the West, second only to San Francisco.
Although founded as the main supply town for Rocky Mountain mining camps, Denver also emerged as a hub for high plains agriculture. Denver’s breweries, bakeries, meat packing and other food-processing plants made it the regional agricultural center, as well as a manufacturing hub for farm and ranch equipment, barbed wire, windmills, seed, feed and harnesses.
The depression of 1893 and repeal of the Sherman Silver Purchase Act abruptly ended Denver’s first boom. Civic leaders began promoting economic diversity—growing wheat and sugar beets, manufacturing, tourism and service industries. The Denver Livestock Exchange and National Western Stock Show confirmed the city’s role as the "cow town" of the Rockies. Denver began growing again after 1900, but at a slower rate. Stockyards, brickyards, canneries, flour mills, leather and rubber goods nourished the city. Of many Denver-area breweries, only Coors has survived, becoming the nation’s third largest sudsmaker.
Regional or national headquarters of many oil and gas firms in the Mile High City fueled much of Denver’s post-World War II growth and an eruption of 40- and 50-story high-rise buildings downtown, during the 1970s. Denver’s economic base has come to include skiing and tourism, electronics, computers, aviation and the nation’s largest telecommunications center. As the regional center of a vast mountain and plain hinterland, Denver boasts more federal employees than any city besides Washington, D. C. Since the 1940s, the large federal center, augmented by state and local government jobs, has somewhat stabilized the city’s boom-and-bust cycle.
Visually, Denver is notable for it predominance of single-family housing and its brick buildings. Good brick clay underlies much of the area, while local lumber is soft, scarce and inferior. Even in the poorest residential neighborhoods, single-family, detached housing prevails, reflecting the Western interest in "elbow room" and a spacious, relatively flat, high plains site, where sprawling growth is unimpeded by any large body of water or geographic obstacle.
Denver’s 1970s energy boom spurred a proliferation of suburban subdivisions, shopping malls and a second office core in the suburban Denver Tech Center. Denver’s traditional dependence on non-renewable natural resources returned to haunt the city during the 1980s oil bust. When the price of crude oil dropped, Denver sank into a depression, losing population and experiencing the highest office vacancy rate in the nation.
Notable institutions include the Denver Museum of Natural History, the Denver Public Library, the Colorado History Museum, the Denver Art Museum and the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, as well as the U.S. Mint and major league baseball, basketball, football, hockey and soccer teams. Gun violence and crime, as well as smog, and traffic congestion are among the principal problems.
As one of the most isolated major cities in the United States, Denver always has been obsessed with transportation systems. Fear of being bypassed began early when railroads and later, airlines, originally avoided Denver because of the 14,000-foot-high Rocky Mountain barrier just west of town. To secure Denver’s place on national transportation maps, the city opened a new multi-billion dollar airport in 1995. The 55-square-mile Denver International Airport is the nation’s largest in terms of area and capacity for growth, prompting boosters to call it the world’s largest.
Denver is a sprawling city in a state of long distances and mountainous obstacles. To tackle long distances and tough terrain, Coloradans have become auto-dependent. Denver has one of the highest per-capita motor vehicle ownership rates in the country—with an average of one licensed vehicle for every man, woman and child. In the 1990s, Denver built an outer ring of freeways that immediately became over-congested. Even after the Regional Transportation District began building a light-rail system, highway congestion remained the number-one complaint of many Denverites.
In 2000, the metro area reached a population of 2.62 million, three-fourths of whom live in the suburban counties—Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Denver, Douglas, Jefferson and Weld. Roughly 20 percent of the core city population was Spanish-surnamed, 13 percent African-American, two percent Asian and one percent Native American. Denver has elected Hispanic (Fredrico Peņa, 1983-91) and African-American (Wellington Webb, 1991-2001 and Michael Hancock, 2012-present) mayors in recent years and has enjoyed relatively smooth race relations.
The Rocky Mountain metropolis boomed during the 1990s, as the eastern suburb of Aurora became Colorado’s third-largest city and the western suburb of Lakewood became the fourth-largest. Even the core City and County of Denver gained population in the 1990s for the first time since the 1970s, climbing once again beyond the 500,000 mark. Thanks to landmark districts preserving venerable business and residential areas, as well as the 1990s opening in the core South Platte River Valley of Coors Baseball Field, Elitch Gardens Amusement Park, Ocean Journey Aquarium, Pepsi Center and many new housing projects, downtown Denver is booming as well as its suburban fringe, at the dawn of the 21st century.
Denver's 2010 population was 600,024, an increase of about 8 percent from 2000. By 2012, the population had reached 634,265.
Denver Area Facts
Population Growth (Denver-Aurora-Boulder CMA - 2005 Definition*) - 1910 to 2030:
1910 - 336,421
1920 - 401,158
1930 - 465,613
1940 - 526,590
1950 - 693,625
1960 - 1,015,551
1970 - 1,339,749
1980 - 1,763,829
1990 - 2,007,649
2000 - 2,629,980
2010 - 3,090,874
2012 - 3,214,218 (July 1, 2012 Census Estimate)
2020 - 3,658,039 (Colorado Dept. of Local Affairs projection)
2030 - 4,238,482 (Colorado Dept. of Local Affairs projection)
*Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Broomfield, Clear Creek, Denver, Douglas, Elbert, Gilpin, Jefferson, Park, and Weld Counties
Downtown Denver Building Heights and Information (Top 15):
Republic Plaza - 56 stories/714 feet - Completed 1984 - SOM Architects
1801 California - 52 stories/709 feet - Completed 1983 - MTY Architects
Wells Fargo Center - 50 stories/698 feet - Completed 1983 - Phillip Johnson Architects
Four Seasons Hotel and Private Residences - 45 stories/650 feet - Completed 2010 - Carney Architects
1999 Broadway - 42 stories/544 feet - Completed 1985 - Fentress Bradburn Architects
707 17th Street - 42 stories/522 feet - Completed 1981 - HOK Architects
555 17th Street - 40 stories/507 feet - Completed 1978 - SOM Architects
Spire Condominiums - 41 stories/487 feet - Completed 2010 - RNL Design
Hyatt Convention Center Hotel - 37 stories/457 feet - Completed 2005 - Klipp Architects
UMB Bank Plaza (1670 Broadway) - 34 stories/448 feet - Completed 1980 - KPF Architects
17th Street Plaza - 33 stories/438 feet - Completed 1982 - Wendel Duchsherer Architects
Wells Fargo Tower North - 32 stories/434 feet - Completed 1974 - ??? Architects
Brook Tower - 42 stories/430 feet - Completed 1968 - ??? Architects
Denver Place (South Tower) - 34 stories/416 feet - Completed 1981 - Abugov & Sunderland Architects
One Tabor Center - 30 stories/408 feet - Completed 1985 - KPF Architects
Companies Headquartered in Denver:
Arrow Electronics (Electronic Components)
Ball Aerospace (Satellites and jars)
Liberty Media/Liberty Global (Cable TV)
Newmont Mining Company (Worlds largest gold mining company)
Encana Oil & Gas (US headquarters)
SunCor Refining (US headquarters)
PCL Construction (US headquarters)
DaVita (Dialysis services)
Cimarex Energy (Oil and gas Company)
CoreSites (Data Center Provider)
Trizetto (Healthcare IT Solutions)
Western Union (Money transfer)
CH2M Hill Engineering (Worlds largest privately held engineering company)
Level 3 Communications (Networking)
Molson/Coors Brewing Company
Lockheed Martin Space Operations
United Launch Alliance
DigitalGlobe Corporation (Satellite imaging)
Ciber Corporation (IT)
Simpson Housing (Multi-family developer/owner)
UDR, Inc. (Apartment owner)
AIMCO (3rd largest apartment owner in the U.S.)
RE/MAX International (Real estate)
Janus Funds (Mutual funds)