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Denver, officially the City and County of Denver, is the capital and most populous municipality of the U.S. state of Colorado. Denver is 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 immediately east of the confluence of Cherry Creek with the South Platte River, approximately 12 mi (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 (5280 feet or 1609.3 meters) above sea level. The 105th meridian west of Greenwich, the longitudinal reference for the Mountain Time Zone, passes directly through Denver Union Station.
Denver is ranked as a Beta- world city by the Globalization and World Cities Research Network. With an estimated population of 704,621 in 2017, Denver is the 19th-most populous U.S. city, and with a 17.41% increase since the 2010 United States Census, it has been one of the fastest-growing major cities in the United States. The 10-county Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO Metropolitan Statistical Area had an estimated 2017 population of 2,888,227 and is the 19th most populous U.S. metropolitan statistical area. The 12-city Denver-Aurora, CO Combined Statistical Area had an estimated 2017 population of 3,515,374 and is the 15th most populous U.S. metropolitan area. Denver is the most populous city of the 18-county Front Range Urban Corridor, an oblong urban region stretching across two states with an estimated 2017 population of 4,895,589. Denver is the most populous city within a 500-mile (800 km) radius and the second-most populous city in the Mountain West after Phoenix, Arizona. In 2016, Denver was named the best place to live in the United States by U.S. News & World Report.
In the summer of 1858, during the Pike’s Peak Gold Rush, a group of gold prospectors from Lawrence, Kansas established Montana City as a mining town on the banks of the South Platte River in what was then western Kansas Territory. This was the first historical settlement in what was later to become the city of Denver. The site faded quickly, however, and by the summer of 1859 it was abandoned in favor of Auraria (named after the gold-mining town of Auraria, Georgia) and St. Charles City.
On November 22, 1858, General William Larimer and Captain Jonathan Cox, Esquire, both land speculators from eastern Kansas Territory, placed cottonwood logs to stake a claim on the bluff overlooking the confluence of the South Platte River and Cherry Creek, across the creek from the existing mining settlement of Auraria, and on the site of the existing townsite of St. Charles. Larimer named the townsite Denver City to curry favor with Kansas Territorial Governor James W. Denver. Larimer hoped the town’s name would help make it the county seat of Arapaho County but, unbeknownst to him, Governor Denver had already resigned from office. The location was accessible to existing trails and was across the South Platte River from the site of seasonal encampments of the Cheyenne and Arapaho. The site of these first towns is now the site of Confluence Park near downtown Denver. Larimer, along with associates in the St. Charles City Land Company, sold parcels in the town to merchants and miners, with the intention of creating a major city that would cater to new immigrants. Denver City was a frontier town, with an economy based on servicing local miners with gambling, saloons, livestock and goods trading. In the early years, land parcels were often traded for grubstakes or gambled away by miners in Auraria. 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, Arapahoe County 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 consolidation in 1902. In 1867, Denver City became the territorial capital. With its newfound importance, Denver City shortened its name to Denver. On August 1, 1876, Colorado was admitted to the Union.
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Most of Denver has a straightforward street grid oriented to the four cardinal directions. Blocks are usually identified in hundreds from the median streets, identified as “00”, which are Broadway (the east–west median, running north–south) and Ellsworth Avenue (the north–south median, running east–west). Colfax Avenue, a major east–west artery through Denver, is 15 blocks (1500) north of the median. Avenues north of Ellsworth are numbered (with the exception of Colfax Avenue and several others, such as Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd and Montview Blvd.), while avenues south of Ellsworth are named.
There is also an older downtown grid system that was designed to be parallel to the confluence of the South Platte River and Cherry Creek. Most of the streets downtown and in LoDo run northeast–southwest and northwest–southeast. This system has an unplanned benefit for snow removal; if the streets were in a normal N–S/E–W grid, only the N–S streets would receive sunlight. With the grid oriented to the diagonal directions, the NW–SE streets receive sunlight to melt snow in the morning and the NE–SW streets receive it in the afternoon. This idea was from Henry Brown the founder of the Brown Palace Hotel. There is now a plaque across the street from the Brown Palace Hotel that honors this idea. The NW–SE streets are numbered, while the NE–SW streets are named. The named streets start at the intersection of Colfax Avenue and Broadway with the block-long Cheyenne Place. The numbered streets start underneath the Colfax and I-25 viaducts. There are 27 named and 44 numbered streets on this grid. There are also a few vestiges of the old grid system in the normal grid, such as Park Avenue, Morrison Road, and Speer Boulevard. Larimer Street, named after William Larimer, Jr., the founder of Denver, which is in the heart of LoDo, is the oldest street in Denver.
All roads in the downtown grid system are streets (e.g. 16th Street, Stout Street). Roads outside that system that travel east/west are given the suffix “avenue” and those that head north and south are given the “street” suffix (e.g. Colfax Avenue, Lincoln Street). Boulevards are higher capacity streets and travel any direction (more commonly north and south). Smaller roads are sometimes referred to as places, drives (though not all drives are smaller capacity roads, some are major thoroughfares) or courts. Most streets outside the area between Broadway and Colorado Boulevard are organized alphabetically from the city’s center.
Some Denver streets have bicycle lanes, leaving a patchwork of disjointed routes throughout the city. There are over 850 miles 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. Some residents are very opposed to bike lanes, which have caused some plans to be watered down or nixed. The review process for one bike line on Broadway will last over a year before city council members will make a decision. In addition to the many bike paths, Denver launched B-Cycle – a citywide bicycle sharing program – in late April 2010. The B-Cycle network was the largest in the United States at the time of its launch, boasting 400 bicycles.
The Denver Boot, a car-disabling device, was first used in Denver.
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 country’s major transportation systems. Because Denver is the largest city within 500 miles (800 km), it has become a natural location for storage and distribution of goods and services to the Mountain States, Southwest states, as well as all western states. Another benefit for distribution is that Denver is nearly equidistant from large cities of the Midwest, such as Chicago and St. Louis and some large cities of the West Coast, such as Los Angeles and San Francisco.
Over the years, the city has been home to other large corporations in the central United States, making Denver a key trade point for the country. Several well-known companies originated in or have relocated to Denver. William Ainsworth opened the Denver Instrument Company in 1895 to make analytical balances for gold assayers. Its factory is now in Arvada. AIMCO (NYSE: AIV)—the largest owner and operator of apartment communities in the United States, with approximately 870 communities comprising nearly 136,000 units in 44 states—is headquartered in Denver, employing approximately 3,500 people. Also Samsonite Corp., the world’s largest luggage manufacturer, began in Denver in 1910 as Shwayder Trunk Manufacturing Company, but Samsonite closed its NE Denver factory in 2001, and moved its headquarters to Massachusetts after a change of ownership in 2006. The Mountain States Telephone & Telegraph Company, founded in Denver in 1911, is now a part of telecommunications giant CenturyLink.
MediaNews Group purchased the Denver Post in 1987; the company is based in Denver. The Gates Corporation, the world’s largest producer of automotive belts and hoses, was established in S. Denver in 1919. Russell Stover Candies 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 Frontier Airlines began operations at Denver’s old Stapleton International Airport in 1950; Frontier was reincarnated at DIA in 1994. Scott’s Liquid Gold, Inc., has been making furniture polish in Denver since 1954. Village Inn restaurants began as a single pancake house in Denver in 1958. Big O Tires, LLC, of Centennial opened its first franchise in 1962 in Denver. The Shane Companysold its first diamond jewelry in 1971 in Denver. Johns Manville Corp., a manufacturer of insulation and roofing products, relocated its headquarters to Denver from New York in 1972. CH2M HILL Inc., an engineering and construction firm, relocated from Oregon to the Denver Technological Center in 1980. The Ball Corporation sold its glass business in Indiana in the 1990s and moved to suburban Broomfield; Ball has several operations in greater Denver.
Molson Coors Brewing Company established its U.S. headquarters in Denver in 2005. Its subsidiary and regional wholesale distributor, Coors Distributing Company, is in NW Denver. The Newmont Mining Corporation, the second-largest gold producer in North America and one of the largest in the world, is headquartered in Denver. MapQuest, an online site for maps, directions and business listings, is headquartered in Denver’s LoDo district.
Large Denver-area employers that have headquarters elsewhere include Lockheed Martin Corp., United Airlines, Kroger Co. and Xcel Energy, Inc.
Geography also allows Denver to have a considerable government presence, with many federal agencies based or having offices in the Denver area. Along with federal agencies come many companies based on US defense and space projects, and more jobs are brought to the city by virtue of its being the capital of the state of Colorado. The Denver area is home to the former nuclear weapons plant Rocky Flats, the Denver Federal Center, Byron G. Rogers Federal Building and United States Courthouse, the Denver Mint, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.
In 2005, a $310.7 million expansion for the Colorado Convention Center was completed, doubling its size. The hope was the center’s expansion would elevate the city to one of the top 10 cities in the nation for holding a convention.
Denver’s position near the mineral-rich Rocky Mountains encouraged mining and energy companies to spring up in the area. In the early days of the city, gold and silver booms and busts played a large role in the city’s economic success. In the 1970s and early 1980s, the energy crisis in America and resulting high oil prices created an energy boom in Denver captured in the soap opera Dynasty. Denver was built up considerably during this time with the construction of many new downtown skyscrapers. When the price of oil dropped from $34 a barrel in 1981 to $9 a barrel in 1986, the Denver economy also dropped, leaving almost 15,000 oil industry workers in the area unemployed (including former mayor and current governor John Hickenlooper, a former geologist), and the nation’s highest office vacancy rate (30%). The industry has recovered and the region has 700 employed petroleum engineers. 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 EnCana, Halliburton, Smith International, Rio Tinto Group, Newmont Mining, Noble Energy, and Anadarko headquartered or having significant operations.
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. Qwest Communications, Dish Network Corporation, Starz-Encore, DIRECTV, and Comcast are a few of the many telecommunications companies with operations in the Denver area. These and other high-tech companies had a boom in Denver in the mid to late 1990s. After a rise in unemployment in the Great Recession, Denver’s unemployment rate recovered and had one of the lowest unemployment rates in the nation at 2.6% in November 2016. As of December 2016, the unemployment rate for the Denver-Aurora-Broomfield MSA is 2.6%. The Downtown region has seen increased real estate investment with the construction of several new skyscrapers from 2010 onward and major development around Denver Union Station.
Denver has also enjoyed success as a pioneer in the fast-casual restaurant industry, with many popular national chain restaurants founded and based in Denver. Chipotle Mexican Grill, Quiznos, and Smashburger were founded and headquartered in Denver. Qdoba Mexican Grill, Noodles & Company, and Good Times Burgers & Frozen Custard originated in Denver, but have moved their headquarters to the suburbs of Wheat Ridge, Broomfield, and Golden, respectively.
In 2015, Denver ranked No. 1 on Forbes’ list of the Best Places for Business and Careers.
Denver Public Schools (DPS) is the public school system in Denver. It educates approximately 92,000 students in 92 elementary schools, 18 K-8 schools, 34 middle schools, 44 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 Denverwas 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.
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 Beautifulmovement, 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 DeBoerto 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.
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Denver Homes for Sale
460 Saint Paul Street Denver, Colorado
5 Beds 8 Baths 11,832 SqFt 0.310 Acres
Active Listing courtesy of KENTWOOD REAL ESTATE DTC, LLC
1625 E 3rd Avenue Denver, Colorado
5 Beds 7 Baths 8,387 SqFt 0.250 Acres
Active Listing courtesy of MB COLORADO RTY LLC
1133 14th Street 4100 Denver, Colorado
3 Beds 4 Baths 5,092 SqFt
Under Contract Listing courtesy of KENTWOOD REAL ESTATE DTC, LLC
910 Gaylord Street Denver, Colorado
5 Beds 6 Baths 9,937 SqFt 0.490 Acres
Active Listing courtesy of Kentwood Real Estate Cherry Creek
2301 E Alameda Avenue Denver, Colorado
4 Beds 7 Baths 7,696 SqFt 1.310 Acres
Active Listing courtesy of LIV Sotheby's International Realty
1610 Little Raven Street PH6 Denver, Colorado
2 Beds 3 Baths 4,097 SqFt
Active Listing courtesy of SLIFER SMITH & FRAMPTON DENV
1590 Little Raven Street PH4 Denver, Colorado
4 Beds 4 Baths 4,907 SqFt
Active Listing courtesy of RE/MAX Professionals
34 Polo Club Circle Denver, Colorado
5 Beds 7 Baths 7,904 SqFt 0.650 Acres
Under Contract Listing courtesy of LIV Sotheby's International Realty
155 Steele Street 1115 Denver, Colorado
3 Beds 4 Baths 3,518 SqFt
Under Contract Listing courtesy of Kentwood Real Estate Cherry Creek
60 Clermont Street Denver, Colorado
7 Beds 11 Baths 12,699 SqFt 0.270 Acres
Active Listing courtesy of Milehimodern
475 Madison Street Denver, Colorado
5 Beds 8 Baths 7,094 SqFt 0.140 Acres
Active Listing courtesy of LIV Sotheby's International Realty
2800 E 2nd Avenue 203 Denver, Colorado
3 Beds 4 Baths 3,878 SqFt 2.300 Acres
Active Listing courtesy of Kentwood Real Estate Cherry Creek