|Denver Colorado Overview
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The City and County of Denver is the capital and largest city of the U.S. state of Colorado. It is located on the plains just east of the Rocky Mountains and forms the heart of the Denver-Aurora metropolitan area. The central downtown district is on the east side of the South Platte River, near its confluence with Cherry Creek, approximately fifteen miles from the foothills. Denver is the county seat of, and shares the same borders with, Denver County - one of the few consolidated city-counties in the United States. According to 2005 Census estimates, the city has a population of 557,917 and ranks as the 25th-largest in the United States and the
sixth-largest state capital. The population of the Denver-Aurora metropolitan area is about 2,330,146 (2005) According to Demographia, it is the 20th largest metropolitan area in the United States by 2000 population. The city claims to have the tenth largest downtown in the United States Denver is nicknamed "The Mile-High City" because its official elevation, engraved on the fifteenth step of the state capitol building, is one statute mile (5,280 feet or 1,609 meters) above sea level. The city's elevation, as surveyed at Denver International Airport, is 5,431 ft (1,655 m). Denver has also been known historically as the Queen City of the Plains
because of its important role in the agricultural industry of the plains regions along the foothills of the Front Range. Other nicknames that Denver has had include The Rail City, for the city's importance as a North American rail hub, and Capital of the Rocky Mountain Empire, for the city's preeminence in the Rocky Mountain region. Several US Navy ships have been named USS Denver in honor of the city.
Denver was founded in the Kansas Territory in 1858. That summer a group from Lawrence, Kansas, arrived and established Montana City on the banks of the South Platte River. This was the first settlement in what was later to become the city of Denver. The site faded quickly, however, and was abandoned in favor of Auraria and St. Charles City by the summer of 1859. The site is now Grant-Frontier Park and includes mining equipment and a log cabin replica.
On November 22 of 1858, General William Larimer, a land speculator from eastern Kansas, placed cottonwood logs to stake a square-mile claim on the hill overlooking the confluence of the South Platte River and Cherry Creek, across the creek from the existing mining settlement of Auraria.
The location was accessible to existing trails and had previously been the site of seasonal encampments of the Cheyenne and Arapaho. Larimer, along with associates in the Denver 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. The name "Denver City" was chosen to honor Kansas territorial governor James W. Denver, in order to ensure that the city would become the county seat of then Arapaho County, Kansas. Ironically, when Larimer named it after Denver, he was unaware that the latter had already resigned as governor. After statehood, Denver remained
the seat of Arapahoe County until the creation of Denver County in 1902.
The Rail City
In the first few years, while the town grew, land parcels were often traded freely for grubstakes and in the course of gambling by miners in Auraria. The city was incorporated on November 7, 1861, several months after the formation of the Colorado Territory. In 1865, Denver became the capital of the Colorado Territory, and in an 1881 state election, that distinction became permanent. The mid 1880s saw a huge rise in city corruption, as crime bosses, such as Soapy Smith, worked side-by-side with elected officials and the police, to control the elections, gambling, and the bunko gangs. By 1890, Denver had grown to be the second largest city west of Omaha,
Nebraska, second only to San Francisco. It would lose the title at the turn of the century to Los Angeles, however. The era of the 1890s played an important role in Denver's history, as this is when the city began to take on a "big city" image. The 1908 Democratic National Convention was staged to promote Denver's prominence, and to signify the city's participation on the national political and socioeconomic stage.
Denver has a semi-arid climate with four distinct seasons. While Denver is located on the Great Plains, the weather of the city and surrounding area is heavily influenced by the proximity of the Rocky Mountains to the west. The climate, while generally mild compared to the mountains to the west and the plains further east, can often be very unpredictable. Measurable amounts of snow have fallen in Denver as late as Memorial Day and as early as Labor Day, and trace amounts have been recorded in every month of the year. .
The average temperature in Denver is 50.1F (10.1C), and the average yearly precipitation is 15.81 in (402mm). The season's first snowfall generally occurs around October 19, and the last snowfall is about April 27, averaging 61.6 in (156cm) of seasonal accumulation. Although Denver's Convention and Visitor Bureau claims Denver receives over 300 sunny days a year , the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration places that figure at about 250 days of sunshine a year.
Denver's winters can vary from mild to cold, and although large amounts of snow can fall on the mountains just west of the city, the effects of orographic lift dry out the air passing over the Front Range, shadowing the city from precipitation for much of the season. Additionally, warm chinook winds can occasionally be felt as air passing over the mountains heats as it descends. Nevertheless, winters are generally mild, with the coldest temperature ever recorded in Denver was recorded on January 9, 1875 at -29F (-34C), though the last time Denver recorded a temperature below -20F (-29C) was in 1990. Spring brings with it significant changes as Denver
can be affected by air masses on all sides, whether arctic air from the north, which occasionally combines with Pacific storm fronts bringing snow to the city. In fact, March is Denver's snowiest month, averaging 11.7 in (29.7 cm) of snow. Additionally, warm air from the Gulf of Mexico can bring the first thunderstorms of the season, and continental warm air can bring summer-like warm and dry conditions. .
Starting in mid-July, the monsoon brings tropical moisture into the city and with it come frequent short (and occasionally severe) late-afternoon thunderstorms. However, despite this tropical moisture, humidity levels during the day generally remain very low. The average high during the summer is 85F (29C) and the average low is 56F (13C). In the autumn, the tropical monsoon flow dies down and as arctic air begins to approach, it can combine with moisture from the Pacific Northwest to bring significant snowfall to the city - November is Denver's second snowiest month, and Denver's greatest recorded snowfall from a single storm, 45.7 in (116 cm),
fell in late autumn from December 1 to December 6, 1913.
Denver hosts a great and rich history of culture. Apollo Hall opened quickly after the city's founding in 1859 and staged many plays for eager settlers. In the 1880's Horace Tabor built Denver's first Opera House. After the turn of the 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 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-Aurora Metropolitan Area approved the Scientific and
Cultural Facilities Tax (commonly known as SCFD), a .01 sales tax that contributes money to various cultural and scientific facilities and organizations throughout the Metro area. The tax has been renewed by voters every time it has come on the ballot. Now, Denver is home to 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 recently recognized for the
third year in a row as the best city for singles. Denver continues to gain cultural importance. The city was selected as the future home for a museum dedicated to abstract expressionist painter Clyfford Still. Denver's neighborhoods also continue their influx of diverse people and businesses while the city's cultural institutions grow and prosper.