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Denver, United States of America

Reference work entry

Introduction

Denver is the capital and the largest city in the state of Colorado. Located on the western edge of the Great Plains near the Rocky Mountains on the South Platte River, Denver is nearly a mile above sea level, hence the ‘mile high city’. A popular tourist destination, Denver is also Colorado’s major economic and cultural centre.

History

Located in an area originally occupied by Cheyenne and Arapahoe Indians, Denver and Auraria were founded in 1858 after gold was found nearby and prospectors rushed to the area. Denver was named after James W. Denver, governor of Kansas, of which the settlement was then a part. The two settlements merged into the city of Denver in 1860.

When the gold seams quickly ran out many prospectors left the area but the city survived as a centre for the shipment of other mined goods. Colorado became a state in 1876 and Denver its designated capital 5 years later. The arrival of railroads and the discovery of silver in the late 1870s was the start of more than a decade-long boom. After the bottom fell out of the silver market, Denver maintained a low profile until World War II when many federal offices were moved to the city and armaments manufacturing thrived. After the war the suburbs grew substantially. Despite problems with air pollution and rising crime, Denver enjoyed a further renaissance in the 1990s when it gained a new airport, baseball stadium and light railway system.

Modern City

The city is served by Denver International Airport which opened in 1995. Three interstate highways pass through the city. There is an Amtrak train station and a Greyhound bus terminal. Skyline and RTD buses provide transport in the city and there is a light railway system.

Tourism and agriculture are the principal industries. The city serves the mining and ranching activities in the nearby Rocky Mountains and houses several military installations and nearly 250 federal offices. There are also several major communications and medical technology companies. Educational institutions include the University of Colorado at Denver, the University of Denver, Regis University, the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center and the Colorado School of Mines.

Places of Interest

Denver has more than 250 urban parks including City Park which houses the Denver Museum of Natural History. Other major cultural institutions include the Denver Art Museum, the Museum of Western Art and Gates Planetarium.

The Civic Center in the city centre houses the State Capitol, the Colorado State Museum and a public library. There is a zoo and botanical gardens and the Colorado History Museum, the Littleton Historical Museum and the Aurora history museum. Denver has resident opera, ballet and theatre companies and is also the base for the Colorado Symphony Orchestra.

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© Springer Nature Limited 2019

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