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capital of and largest city in Colorado, and the seat of Denver County

Denver is known as the "Mile-High City" because the 15th step to the western entrance of the State Capitol is exactly 5,280 feet above sea level. As of 2010 the city had a population of 600,158, and an area of 154.9 square miles.

"One Mile Above Sea Level"
"One Mile Above Sea Level"


Gold was discovered on the site where Denver now sits in early 1858, and within months three towns had sprung up along the South Platte River. One of those towns was platted by General William Latimer, a land speculator from Kansas, on November 22, 1858. Latimer named his town Denver City in honor of Kansas Territorial Governor James William Denver hoping it would be named the seat of Arapahoe County, which at that time was part of Kansas; he did not know, however, that Denver had already resigned as Territorial Governor. By 1859 the three towns on the South Platte were competing for settlers, and neither of them was enjoying success, but a meeting over a barrel of whiskey resulted in the other two towns agreeing to become part of Denver City. Colorado Territory was created on February 28, 1861, Arapahoe County was formed November 1, 1861 (with Denver City as its seat), and Denver City was incorporated on November 7, 1861. The city's name was shortened to Denver after it was named capital of Colorado Territory in 1867. The city of Denver and Arapahoe County were consolidated into a single governmental body, under the name City and County of Denver, in 1901.


downtown Denver skyline
downtown Denver skyline

Transportation and government services are the principal contributors to Denver's economy. The city's central location makes it an ideal hub for both freight and passenger movement. From its earliest days, Denver sat on the crossroads of several roads into and out of the Colorado gold mines, and today it is served by several interstae highways. Denver International Airport is the largest airport by area in the United States (over 53 square miles), and millions of passengers pass through its terminals every year enroute to their ultimate destinations. A branch of the U.S. Mint is the most notable federal facility in the city.

Colorado State Capitol
Colorado State Capitol

Sites and Attractions

Notable Denver attractions include the Denver Art Museum, The Museum of Contemporary Art Denver, the Denver Performing Arts Complex, Red Rocks Amphitheatre, the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, Denver Zoo, the Black American West Museum, and the Museo de las Americas.

Denver is one of a very few U.S. cities to host teams in all four major sports leagues: the Colorado Rockies (Major League Baseball), Denver Nuggets (National Basketball Association), Denver Broncos (National Football League), and Colorado Avalanche (National Hockey League). Other professional sports teams in the city are: Colorado Mammoth (National Lacrosse League), Colorado Crush (Arena Football League), Colorado Rapids (Major League Soccer), and Denver Outlaws (Major League Lacrosse).

Other Information

The road to the top of the 14,260-foot (4,346 km) peak of Mount Evans is the highest paved road in North America, and is maintained and operated by the Denver City Parks Department.

In 1970, Denver was chosen to host the 1976 Winter Olympics, but in 1972 voters chose to decline the games due to the high cost of building the necessary facilities. It is, thus, the only city ever to reject an Olympics bid after having already been chosen.

The world first cheeseburger came off the grill at Humpty Dumpty, a Denver drive-in restaurant, in 1935.

With a total length of 26.5 miles, Denver's Colfax Avenue is the longest continuous street in the United States.

The Colorado Rockies opened at home on April 9, 1993 in front of 80,277 fans, the most ever to witness an opening game in baseball history. The team went has since broken 11 Major League Baseball records, including the most single-season fans, 4,483,350.

The television series The Bill Engvall Show, Dynasty, and Good Luck Charlie were all set in Denver, as were the novels Waiting to Exhale by Terry McMillan and On the Road by Jack Kerouac.

Golda Meir, Douglas Fairbanks, Hattie McDaniel and Buffalo Bill Cody are some of the famous people who spent part of their lives in Denver.

Contact Information

Denver Convention & Visitor Bureau
1600 California Street, Suite 6
Denver, CO 80202

See Also

James William Denver
Douglas Fairbanks
Hattie McDaniel
Buffalo Bill Cody

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The Robinson Library >> Colorado

This page was last updated on August 15, 2018.