Today, it is time to mention information on the great city of Denver. Denver is found in the Mountain West region of America. It has the most population of any city in the state of Colorado. Also, it is found in the South Platte River Valley. That is located in the western edge of the High Plains just east of the Front Plains, which is just east of the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains. Denver is the capital of Colorado as well. It has been nicknamed the Mile High City, because its official elevation is about one mile (or 5,280 feet, which is the same as 1,610 meters) above sea level. So, Denver is one of the highest major cities in terms of altitude in America. The 105th meridian west of Greenwich, the longitudinal reference for the Mountain Time Zone, passes directly through Denver Union Station. Its population has grown rapidly in the past 10 years. It has over 682,545 people. It has the 19th most populous population in America and it’s the fastest growing major city in the United States.
Geographically, Aurora is to the east of Denver. Thornton is north of Denver. Colorado Springs is to the south of Denver too. South of Colorado Springs is Pueblo. Grand Junction is to the southwest of Denver as well. Its metropolitan area has over 3 million people. Denver is not just famous for its history of the American West and for its architecture. It has dynamic culture from a diversity of its citizens. In 2016, Denver was named the best place to live in the USA by U.S. News & World Report. Mount Evans can be seen in the skyline. Denver is located in the center of the Front Range Urban Corridor, between the Rocky Mountains to the west and the Plains to the east. Denver's topography consists of plains in the city center with hilly areas to the north, west and south. According to research, the city has a total area of 155 square miles. About 78 different neighborhoods reside in Denver. Denver is a key area of America where it is a location for storage and distribution of goods and services to the Mountain States, the Southwest states, and the Western states. Tons of well-known people are born from Denver like Chauncey Billups, Jerry Robertson, Joseph C. Philips, Hanna R. Hall, Jane Culp, India Irie, and other human beings. Therefore, it is important to anyone to appreciate the strength of Denver and research about the historical significance that Denver has. For a long time, Denver represents progressive thinking, human cultural advancement, and the spirit of determination succinctly.
Denver has a long history. The first people of Denver were Native Americans. As time went onward, the Denver area was part of the Territory of Kansas. It was land that existed from May 30, 1854 to January 29, 1861. It was created by the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which dealt with slavery, popular sovereignty, and whether Kansas would be a free state or not. The Denver area wasn’t settled that much until the late 1850’s. Many prospectors looking for gold moved on. This changed in July 1858. During that time, Green Russell and Sam Bates found a small placer deposit near the mouth of Little Dry Creek (in the present-day suburb of Englewood) that yielded about 20 troy ounces (620 g) of gold, the first significant gold discovery in the Rocky Mountain region. News spread rapidly and by autumn, hundreds of men were working along the South Platte River. By spring 1859, tens of thousands of gold seekers arrived. Henceforth, the Pike's Peak Gold Rush was under way. In the following two years, about 100,000 gold seekers flocked to the region. By the summer of 1858, there was a group of people from Lawrence, Kansas. They arrived. They also formed Montana City on the banks of the South Platte River (or modern day Grant-Frontier Park). This was the first settlement of European Americans that would become the Denver Metropolitan Ara. The site ended very quickly. The reason was that there were poor findings by miners. Most of the settlers and some structures moved north to the confluence of the South Platte River and Cherry Creek. At that location, a new settlement called St. Charles was established. That location was accessible to exiting trails and had previously been the site of the seasonable encampments of the Cheyenne and Arapaho (who are Native Americans). Five weeks after the founding of St. Charles in October of 1858, the town of Auraria was founded by William Greeneberry Russell and a party of fellow settlers from Georgia on the south side of Cherry Creek. The town was named for the gold mining settlement of Auraria, Georgia. It was formed in response to the high cost of land in St. Charles and gave away lots to anyone willing to build and live there. A post office was opened in Auraria in January 1859 serving the 50 cabins that had already been constructed. A short time later a third town, called Highland was founded on the west side of the South Platte River.
Surrounded by steep bluffs and separated from the other two settlements by the river, it was slow to develop. In November 1858, General William Larimer placed logs to stake a square mile claim on the site of the St. Charles claim. He was a land speculator from eastern Kansas. The claim was across the creek from the existing mining settlement of Auraria. The majority of the settlers in St. Charles returned to Kansas for the winter and left only a small number of people behind to guard their claim. Larimer and his followers gave the representatives whiskey, promises, and threats and the St. Charles claim was surrendered. The name of the site was changed to Denver City. This was named after the Kansas Territorial Governor James W. Denver. Some wanted the city would be the county seat of then Arapaho County, Kansas. Ironically, when Larimer named the city after Denver to curry favor with him, James Denver had already resigned as governor and no longer had say in naming the capitol. Denver was a mining settlement in the beginning. Gold prospectors panned gold from the sands of nearby Cherry Creek and the South Platte River. Larimer, along with associates in the Denver City Land Company, laid out the roads parallel to the creek and sold parcels in the town to merchants and miners. They had the intention of creating a major city that would cater to new immigrants. During the early years of Denver, land parcels were traded for grubstakes or gambled away by miners in Auraria. More gold deposits were found in the mountains west of Denver in early 1859 as gold was lacking in the Denver area. This might cause Denver City to be a ghost town. The gold rush started and Denver was used as a hub for the new mines. Early expeditions into the area, such as the Pike and Long expeditions, had returned east referring to the plains as the "Great American Desert" which deterred immigration. Despite this, frontier posts and forts existed and traded with the natives and frontiersmen. However the closest major trading routes, the Oregon and Santa Fe Trails, didn't come with in a hundred miles of the Denver area. Until a permanent trading route was established the locals had to make due with what little extra new immigrants brought with them. New immigrants migrated into Denver. Auraria began to take an early lead with the first saloon, smithery, and carpentry shop. But in May 1859, Denver City donated 53 lots to the Leavenworth and 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 to as few as six days. With supplies being delivered to the Denver side of Cherry Creek, businesses began to move there as well. By June, Auraria had 250 buildings compared to Denver's 150 buildings, and both cities were growing quickly. With this growth, there came a need for a wider government.
The new area of Colorado
Back then, Arapahoe County included Denver, Auraria, and the land west of the Continental Divide. This area was in the western portion of the Kansas Territory. Arapahoe County was created in 1855. It was occupied mostly by the Cheyenne and Arapaho Native Americans. At first, only a few white settlers lived there. The county wasn’t organized in the beginning. There was no county government and the Kansas Territory was preoccupied with the violent events of Bleeding Kansas. Bleeding Kansas was about pro-slavery and anti-slavery forces fighting each other literally for the right to control Kansas Territory. The United States Congress didn’t give much attention to Arapahoe County. Congress dealt with threats of secession to move beyond the borders of the Kansas Territory. The mine fields began to move beyond the borders of Kansas Territory. These mines were closer to Denver. Some people started to form a new territory or state. On October 24, 1859, an election was held to form a provisional government for the goldfields and the formation of the Jefferson was approved. The elected Governor of the Territory of Jefferson, Robert Williamson Steele, opened the first session of the Jefferson Territorial Legislature in Denver City on November 7, 1859. The Congress, embroiled in the debate over slavery, failed to consider the new territory. The election of Abraham Lincoln for the President of the United States eliminated any chance for federal endorsement of the Territory of Jefferson and any role in government for Governor Steele, a staunch pro-Union Democrat and vocal opponent of Lincoln and the Republican Party.
The Republicans wanted a free state quickly. So, the Republican led Congress hurriedly admitted the portion of the Territory of Kansas east of the 25th meridian west from Washington to the Union as the free state of Kansas on January 29, 1861. Kansas statehood left the western portion of the now defunct Kansas Territory, which the Jefferson Territory also claimed, officially unorganized. On February 28, 1861, outgoing U.S. President James Buchanan signed an Act of Congress which organized the free Territory of Colorado. President Abraham Lincoln appointed William Gilpin of Missouri the first Governor of the Territory of Colorado and he arrived in Denver City on May 29, 1861. On June 6, 1861, Governor Steel issued a proclamation declaring the Territory of Jefferson disbanded and urging all employees and residents to abide by the laws governing America.
The Colorado General Assembly first met on September 9, 1861 and created 17 counties for the territory on November 1, 1861, including a new Arapahoe County with Denver City as its seat. The legislature approved the reincorporation of the cities of Denver, Auraria, and Highland as Denver City on November 7, 1861 in order to better administer the quickly growing cities. Denver City was part of the Arapahoe County Seat from 1861 until it became its own county in 1902. In 1867, Denver City became the permanent state capital.
Before 1861, Denver was part of Arapahoe County, Kansas. Yet, the county wasn’t organized greatly. The reason was that there was a lack of government services. This resulted in vendettas and vigilantism. There was also the growth of entrepreneurialism too. William Hepworth Dixon, an English traveler, once noted of Denver, "a man's life is of no more worth than a dog's" but that in its people he saw "perseverance, generosity, [and] enterprise." After Colorado became a territory courts were set up, judges were appointed, and laws were created but mob justice was still common. In the same year of 1861, Colorado became a territory. The American Civil War broke out. Colorado was involved in the Civil War too. Most Denverites were from the North and their support for the Union drove many Southerners from town, including Denver's first mayor John C. Moore. William Gilpin, Colorado's first territorial governor, organized Colorado's volunteer militia, and sent them south in February 1862 to fight Confederate Texans at the Battle of Glorieta Pass. With resources tied up in the war there was little left over for mines, farms, and infrastructure and Denver stagnated. Denver was growing rapidly.
It was a frontier town in the beginning. Churches, lacking permanent facilities readily held their services in public halls or saloons. Children attended pay schools led by teachers of questionable ability. Gold mining declined as miners exhausted the shallow parts of the veins that contained free gold, and found that their amalgamation could not recover gold from the deeper sulfide ores. Many people left Colorado, and often those that stayed lacked continuous work during the economic slump, spending their time drinking and getting into fights. Denver’s early wooden buildings were extremely flammable and on July 15, 1862 citizens organized a volunteer Fire Department. Unfortunately, almost a year later, carts and buckets were still on order, and firemen were untrained and untried. On April 19, 1863, a fire broke out in the center of downtown Denver. High winds fed the sparks and, in a few hours, a great majority of the wooden buildings in the heart of Denver had been destroyed. Losses totaled over $250,000, and although the buildings themselves were of minimal value, the loss of inventory devastated many new businesses. As a result of the fire, new laws were passed to prohibit using wood and other flammable materials to construct downtown buildings. Denver's new buildings were built with brick, often larger than the original. As the rebuilding progressed, Denver began to look like a town rather than a temporary campground.
On May 19, 1864, which was a year after the fire, the spring melt combined with heavy rains caused severe flooding on Cherry Creek. The flooding damaged many low lying areas in Auraria. It destroyed the Rocky Mountain News building, the Methodist Church building, City Hall, other offices, warehouses, and outbuildings. Eight Denver residents had been killed, and enormous number of livestock had been drowned. Financial losses totaled approximately $350,000 and left many homeless. The water was badly contaminated and threatened a major epidemic. Despite these overwhelming losses, rebuilding began almost immediately. Ignoring the risk, many rebuilt well within the flood plain, and flood waters continued to engulf Denver in 1875, 1878, 1912, and 1933. It was not until the 1950s, when the Army Corps of Engineers completed Cherry Creek Dam, that the flooding was stopped. During the summer of 1865, Denver saw attacks on supply trains and market manipulations drive up prices. In 1865, grasshoppers swarmed through the area. It stripped away all of the vegetation. Real estate values fell so low that entire blocks changed hands during poker games. The town's population shrank from 4,749 in 1860, to only about 3,500 in 1866. Many of the original gold miners and town founders were among those who left.
By the mid-1860s the Civil War was over and Denver had survived many tragedies. The city began to grow again and ended the decade with a population of 4,759. With the freeing up of capital that the end of war brought, new investment was once again possible. Denverites began to look toward the next step for growing their city, ensuring the route of the transcontinental railroad traveled through Denver.
The Transcontinental Railroad
The Transcontinental railroad being created in North America was one of the most important events of American history. By the 1860’s, investment once again came into the Denver area. Yet, transportation became a greater concern. It was expensive back then to transport goods to and from Denver. So, people wanted railroads to come into Denver as a means to make transporting goods less expensive. In 1862, the United States Congress passed the Pacific Railway Act. This caused Coloradans to be excited at the prospect of the railroad crossing the Rockies Mountains through Colorado despite the dismal surveys by John C. Fremont and John William Gunnison. The Union Pacific Railroad choose to go north through Cheyenne, Wyoming. Back then, people thought it would cause Cheyenne to blossom into the major population center of the region. Thomas Durant was the vice president of the Union. He was wrong to assume that Denver was “too dead to bury.” Colorado Territorial Governor John Evens said that “Colorado without railroads is comparatively worthless.” Later, Evans came together with other local business leaders and they partnered with East Coast investors. They formed a railroad company that would link Denver and the Colorado Territory with the national rail network. The company was incorporated on November 19, 1867 as the “Denver Pacific Railway and Telegraph Company.” There was a sense of urgency, because there was a rival company called the Colorado, Clear Creek and Pacific Railway (later the Colorado Central Railroad), by W.A.H. Loveland and citizens of nearby Golden.
This rival company wanted to link the city of Golden directly with Cheyenne in trying to make Golden the natural hub of the territory. That is why within several days; the company sold $300,000 in stock, but was unable to raise further funds to begin construction. The efforts seemed to be on the brink of failure when Evans was able to persuade Congress to grant the company 900,000 acres (3,600 km2) of land on the condition that the company build a line connecting the Union Pacific line in Wyoming with the existing Kansas Pacific line, which then extended only as far west as central Kansas. Evans’ company wanted to beat the Golden investors. The company that Evans supported broke ground on its Cheyenne line on May 18, 1868. It was finished in 2 years. The first train from Cheyenne arrived in Denver on June 24, 1870.
Two months later, in August 1870, the Kansas Pacific completed its line to Denver and the first train arrived from Kansas. With the completion of the Kansas Pacific line to Denver, the Denver Pacific became integral to the first transcontinental rail link between the east and west coasts of America. While the Union Pacific line had been declared finished in 1869 with the Golden spike event in Utah, linking it with the Central Pacific Railroad, passengers were required to disembark the train and cross the Missouri River at Omaha by boat. With the completion of the Denver Pacific line, it was finally possible to embark a train on the east coast and disembark on the west coast. The Denver Pacific’s rival (or the Colorado Central line from Golden) was not finished until 1877. By 1877, Denver established supremacy over its rival. Denver became the population center and capital city of the newly admitted State of Colorado. The railroad in Denver brought residents, tourists, and much needed supplies. In the 1870's, it is estimated that the railroad brought 100 new residents to Denver each day. Population statistics bear this out, for Denver's population soared from 4,759 in 1870 to over 35,000 by 1880. In addition to bringing new residents, it put Denver on the map as a tourist destination and brought 1,067 visitors in its first month of operation. That first month also brought 13,000,000 pounds (5,900,000 kg) of freight. Denver now had the people and supplies it needed to flourish and solidify its dominance in the region.
The Silver boom
There was the silver boom in Denver too during the 19th century. Silver was discovered near Montezuma, Georgetown, Central City, and Idaho Springs in the mid 1860’s. Yet, mining was delayed for the most part. This changed when smelters were built during the late 1860’s. Despite the early silver discoveries, Colorado’s largest silver district (or Leadville) was not discovered until 1874. Silver mining soon boomed in Colorado. Wealth came to the residents of Denver. Denver’s economy had a strong base based upon railroads, wholesale trade, manufacturing, food processing, and servicing the growing agricultural plus ranching hinterland. Between 1870 and 1890, manufacturing output soared from $600,000 to $40 million. Denver's population grew by a factor of 20 times to 107,000. In 1890, Denver grown to be the 26th largest city in America and the fifth largest city west of the Mississippi River. The rapid growth of these years attracted millionaires and their mansions. Poverty and crime existed in Denver too. So, Denver existed from a gold mining town into a supplier of goods and services. Many miners, other workers, and travelers lived there. There were saloons and gambling places. In 1859, the Apollo Hall theater opened followed over the years by such notables as the Denver Theatre, home to the city's first opera performance in 1864, and the Broadway Theatre which brought in internationally renowned performers. There was the luxurious location of the Tabor Grand Opera House, which was built in 1881. Horace Tabor built the opera house. He made money from mining silver. The Tabor Grand Opera House in Denver was said to be opulent and a great building. It had much equipment. It filled a whole block and it changed Denver’s architecture. Denver became a world class city. Other grand buildings were constructed like Union Station in 1881, the 10-story Brown Palace Hotel in 1892, and the Colorado State Capitol Building in 1894. There were elaborate, large homes for millionaires like the Croke, Patterson, Campbell Mansion at 11th and Pennsylvania and the now-demolished Moffat Mansion at 8th and Grant. There was progress and corruption during the 1880’s and the 1890’s. Soapy Smith and Lou Blonger were underwood bosses.
They worked together city officials and the police to profit from gambling and other criminal enterprises. Gambling grew. Many miners gambled too. There were madams and prostitution. A justice system in Colorado came by the late 1800’s. Denver had a chief of police in 1874. The law was enforced by the Vigilance Committee. Some took their law in their own hands.
Elizabeth Wallace writes of these vigilantes, "A judge presided and the offender was tried by a group of his peers. Once given, the decision was final. Between 1859 and 1860 fourteen men were accused of murder and were brought before a jury of twelve men and at least one judge presiding. Six of the fourteen men were sentenced to death."
Many people fought to end crime and corruption. The women’s suffrage movement existed in Denver to fight for women’s suffrage. Some wanted prohibition and others wanted to purify society. There was the social gospel movement that wanted to end suffering and poverty. Protestants, Reform Jewish people, and Catholics in Denver built the social welfare system in the early 20th century. They gave help to the sick and hungry. Thomas Uzzel, leader the Methodist People's Tabernacle, established a free dispensary, an employment bureau, a summer camp, night schools, and English language classes. The Baptist minister Jim Goodheart, city chaplain and director of public welfare in 1918, set up an employment bureau and provided food and lodging for the homeless at the mission he ran. The United Way of America has roots in Denver, where in 1887 church leaders began the Charity Organization Society, which coordinated services and fund raising for 22 agencies. Denver’s climate helped people with respiratory diseases. Hospitals grew. Jewish people created great hospitals that helped people like the National Jewish Hospital for Consumptives (now National Jewish Health) and the Jewish Consumptives' Relief Society. Denver grew and African Americans, German Americans, Italian Americans, Chinese Americans, and a diversity of people lived there. Later, the rightwing backlash of the Klan and the Red Scare would exist in the early 20th century. Yet, the authentic, progressive people of Denver would continue to fight for justice.
In 1893, there was the Panic of 1893 and later came home rule in Denver. The 1893 financial panic occurred nationwide. The silver boom collapsed. Denver, by that time suffered economically, because of droughts and harsh winters. That weather harmed the agricultural industry. The agricultural distress along with the withdrawal of foreign investors (plus the over expansion of the silver mining industries) caused stock prices to decline. Banks closed and businesses failed. Numerous farms ceased to operate. With no federal insurance to support the money in the banks, many people lost their life savings. Denver banks closed and real estate values dropped. Smelters stopped working and the Denver Tramway had trouble getting people to ride and pay their taxes. The Union Pacific Railroad, which had absorbed both the Denver Pacific and Kansas Pacific in the 1880’s, declared bankruptcy. National unemployment was between 12-18% back in 1894. Wages declined. Strikes took place. One strike that took place in Colorado was the Cripple Creek miners' strike which lasted five months.
As the silver mines began to close due to the continued drop in silver prices, unemployed miners and other workers from the Colorado Mountains flooded into Denver in hopes of finding work. Because of the city's inability to take care of the jobless, some train companies began offering reduced or free fares for people wanting to travel from Denver. This effort contributed to the exodus from the city. Denver's population dropped from 106,000 in 1890 to 90,000 in 1895. A new municipal charter was given to Denver in 1893 by the state legislature. This decentralized much of the mayor’s powers into 6 different administrative departments. 2 of which were elected. 2 were appointed by the mayor and the remaining two were appointed by the governor. King writes "The plan gave the maximum of opportunity for [political] party groups and corporate control." The municipal board members appointed by the governor had complete financial control over the police, fire, and excise departments. Over half the expenditures of the city went through this board which gave the governor and his party much direct control over Denver.
Governor Davis Hanson Waite was elected in 1893. He was elected on a Populist Party reform platform. It tried to overturn the corruption in Denver in 1894 by removing police and fire commissioners that he believed were shielding the gamblers and prostitutes that he believed were resulting from and also worsening the depression. The officials refused to leave their positions and were quickly joined by others who felt their jobs were threatened. They barricaded themselves in City Hall, and the state militia was sent to remove them. Federal troops were called in from nearby Fort Logan to intervene and quell the civil strife. Eventually Governor Waite agreed to withdraw the militia and allow the Colorado Supreme Court to decide the case. The court ruled that the governor had authority to replace the commissioners, but he was reprimanded for bringing in the militia, in what became known as the "City Hall War.” The governor was elected by the whole state. He had so much power over the workings of Denver. That was not lost on the citizens in Denver. The economy flattered and the new six departments were divided. Later, the first nonpartisan mayor was elected in Denver back in 1895. His name was T.S. McMurray. He was reelected in 1897 and defeated in 1899. There was the home rule movement after people didn’t like the major political parties. In 1902, an amendment to the state constitution was passed that allowed cities to adopt home rule and Denver became a consolidated city–county. In 1897, the U.S. economy started to recover. Jobs slowly came back into Denver. Real estate prices remained depressed through 1900. Agriculture grew. Irrigation infrastructure and crop diversification increased. The processing and production of food in the state helped to not make the depression much worse. Denver gained back the population it had lost during the depression, mainly through the annexation of neighboring towns, and ended the century with a population of more than 133,000.
The Progressive Era
The Progressive Era existed in Denver during the early 20th century. There was the Efficiency Movement that occurred in 1902 when the city and Denver County were made in coexistence. Robert W. Speer was elected Denver mayor in 1904. He started many projects that added new landmarks, updated existing facilities, and improved the city’s landscape including the City Auditorium, the Civic Center, and the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. City leaders came into Washington, D.C. They assured the politicians there that Denver was no longer a frontier town, so they secured the first major party convention in a western state, which was the 1908 Democratic National Convention. Denver back then also pioneered the juvenile court movement under Judge Ben Lindsey. He gained national fame for his efforts. With his efforts, an act was passed to create a juvenile court in Denver. This was a new development in America as it relates to children and the court system. Emily Griffith in 1914 opened the Opportunity School. She was a Denver school teacher. The Opportunity School had language and vocational instruction. It also had both day classes and night classes, so nontraditional learners should have the opportunity for self-improvement. During this time, Denver’s park system was expanded. Land in the mountains was acquired for a future mountain park system. Cattle pens began to develop around the existing railroad depots as farmers began shipping their livestock to the existing meat packing industry in Kansas City and Chicago. Local ranchers wanted to concentrate on raising cattle rather than the logistics of shipping them east and in 1906 the first National Western Stock Show was held which quickly became the preeminent livestock show in the region. These events helped raise the national profile of Denver and live up to its nickname, the "Queen City of the Plains."
Labor unions were also active in Denver. There were construction and printing crafts affiliated with the AFL or the American Federation of Labor. There were railroad brotherhoods there as well. After being welcomed at the 1908 Democratic National Convention, the AFL unions, who formed the Denver Trades and Labor Assembly, generally supported Democratic candidates. In early 1913, members of the Industrial Workers of the World (or the Wobblies) conducted a free speech fight in Denver. The deal was that city authorities refused to allow IWW organizers to speak to people on street corners. Union members challenged this policy. They aimed to even fill the jails to put pressure on city leaders. This Wobbly tactics, which they had employed successfully for half a decade throughout the North and West, clogged the courts so they couldn't handle anything but free speech cases. Taxpayers complained that they were being forced to feed "whole armies of jailed Wobblies."
In her autobiography, Emma Goldman wrote of twenty-seven IWW members, arrested during the Denver free speech fight, who were "tortured in the sweat-box for refusing to work on the rock-pile. On their release they marched through the streets with banners and songs..."
The union eventually won the right to speak to workers, and within a year had formed two Denver "branches." On the brink of World War I, Denver mirrored the rest of the nation in wanting to stay neutral. But once America entered the war in 1917, Denver contributed what it could to the war effort. Clothing and supplies were donated, children enrolled in agricultural and garden clubs to free up young men for the war, and mining and agricultural interests were expanded to support the troops and the nation. As prices for goods rose with the demand from the war effort farmers began planting crops in greater numbers and mining companies opened new mines for molybdenum, vanadium, and tungsten. During WWI, anti-German sentiment was very high in Denver, because the United States was fighting Germans in Europe.
Before the war Germans had been a very prosperous immigrant group, who often congregated in their own ethnic clubs. They had enough political clout to have a law passed in 1877 that required German and gymnastics be taught in public schools, and until 1889 all of Colorado's laws were printed in English, Spanish, and German. The Germans built churches and owned interests in mining and agriculture, but many in the temperance movement primarily associated them with the production and consumption of alcohol. Believing all evil began with the drink, prohibitionists cracked down on what they considered "un-American" activity. In 1916, alcohol was banned in the state. Many saloon owners and brewers lost their jobs and with the outbreak of World War I, many others were fired and ostracized. German stopped being taught in schools and many Germans abandoned their heritage to avoid conflicts.
Many individuals within the prohibition movement associated the crime and morally corrupt behavior of the cities of America with their large immigrant populations. That xenophobic, racist rhetoric is similar to the views of Donald Trump. In a backlash to the new emerging realities of the American demographics, many prohibitionists subscribed to the doctrine of “nativism” in which they endorsed the notion that America was made great as a result of its white Anglo-Saxon ancestry. In other words, these bigots wanted to promote the myth of white racial supremacy. The original people of America weren't Anglo-Saxons, but Native Americans. Not to mention that many of the Anglo-Saxons intermarried with the Picts, the Celts, etc. in the UK. This hate rhetoric from the nativists fostered xenophobic sentiments towards urban immigrant communities who typically argued in favor of abolishing prohibition. These sentiments led many in Denver to join the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) both because it opposed foreign immigration and because it defended prohibition. The Klan is an evil, racist terrorist organization that has murdered and raped black people. Roman Catholic immigrants, particularly of Irish or Italian descent, were often the target of KKK discrimination. These communities gradually became "Americanized," and the KKK quickly lost influence especially during KKK member Clarence Morley's term as governor from 1925-1927. As Prohibition lingered on many citizens saw the negative effects: toxic bootleg liquor, corruption, bribery, and binge drinking. Colorado voters suspended the state’s Prohibition laws on July 1, 1933. While white racism and discrimination against a new wave of Mexican and African-American immigrants persisted, the KKK decreased its overt visibility in Colorado politics.
The Early 20th century
After World War I, the economy in Denver grew for a time. Yet, there was less demand for goods. This caused prices to drop and 1918 saw a short recession. There was more severe one from 1920 to 1921. The mining industry in Denver suffered badly by decreasing prices and more foreign competition during the post-war recession years. Coal mining in Colorado was definitely negatively impacted, because alternative sources of fuel was widely used and labor strikes hurt production. In 1928, Denver was just on the receiving end of a major natural gas pipeline from Texas and more households and businesses switched to gas, so the demand for coal fell. From 1905 to 1929, there was the longest recorded wet period in Colorado history. This favorable weather combined with war-time demand saw farmers over plant during WWI and significant price drops after the war ended caused many farmers significant losses. Costs began to exceed profits and many farmers were forced to sell their land which was then rented to others or simply left abandoned. Dryland farming was common on the prairies though many farmers removed the native grasses that helped control erosion. In 1929, the national economy crashed leading to the Great Depression.
In 1930, the weather turned dry beginning the most widespread and longest lasting drought in Colorado history, a period of time that would later be referred to as the "Dust Bowl." Dry weather, soil erosion, and a depressed economy led to a huge social upheaval felt across the entire nation. The Dust Bowl decimated agriculture. The Great Depression made many industries and mines to close. Workers were laid off. Many of the unemployed came to Denver to try to work and get a better life. In 1933, it was estimated that 25 percent of Demverites were out of work. The Hoover administration promised that the recession would end quickly. The economy continued to worsen though. Franklin D. Roosevelt won the 1932 Presidential election with his promise of a “New Deal.” The New Deal bought funds and jobs to Colorado and Denver. The Historic American Buildings Survey hired architects and photographers to document historic buildings. They inspired the nascent historic preservation movement. The Civilian Conservation Corps built trails and campgrounds in Denver’s Mountain Parks. The Works Progress Administration build roads, fixed schools, and funded artists to decorate government buildings. The new roads and trials encouraged tourism. The improved rail and air travel made Denver a hub for transportation. The new Moffat Tunnel came about in the mid 1920’s. It was cut through the Rocky Mountains. It opened in 1928. It shorted need the distance between Denver and the Pacific coast by 176 miles.
During the 1930’s, the rail system was transformed. In 1935, the Burlington Railroad introduced the Zephyr with a record breaking 13 hours and 5 minutes trip from Denver to Chicago. It was a revolutionary new diesel-powered train, streamlined and luxurious. That changed the public's expectations of rail travel. Having a direct link to the west coast, it helped Denver compete against Cheyenne and Pueblo for rail business and it quickly became a major hub for railways. Air travel grew in the same time period. When Mayor Benjamin F. Stapleton opened Denver Municipal Airport in 1929, it was derided as a taxpayer subsidy for the powerful elite who flew for sport. Built northeast of Denver, The Denver Post complained that it was too far from the city center and the location had been chosen to benefit the mayor's financial backers. But with four gravel runways, one hangar, and a terminal it was greeted by others as "the West's best airport." At the time unpressurized planes were the norm, and transcontinental flights went through Cheyenne or south through Texas as the mountains were smaller there. Denver Municipal Airport was used mainly for mail service and private pilots. As pressurized planes came into general use, the mountains were no longer an issue and the advanced airport attracted major airlines positioning Denver as a major hub for air travel in the region. The economy recovered by the end of the 1930’s as World War II started in Europe. Demand for goods increased. America was preparing to fight in that war. Denver benefited from the military buildup. Denver had been selected for a new training airbase, Lowry Air Force Base which opened in 1938, and in 1941 the Denver Ordnance Plant opened. These facilities brought many jobs with them which in turn attracted more people to the city. Denver had started the decade with just under 288,000 people and by 1940 had over 322,000.
WWII in Denver
Before World War II, Denver’s economy was mainly about processing and shipping of minerals and ranch products (like beef and lamb). Most Denverites were isolationists. Yet, after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Denver joined the war efforts. Denver’s leaders continued to use policies to bring businesses to the city during the war and afterwards. Specialized industries were introduced to the city. Denver soon became a large manufacturing center. Denver was away from either coast. This made an attack from the Axis Powers unlikely. During World War II, the Rocky Mountain Arsenal, Buckley Air Force Base, and the Denver Ordnance Plant all opened during the war. In 1941 over 6,500 federal employees lived and worked in Denver. With so many federal employees already in Denver, it was easier to convince the government to add more and by 1946, the number increased to over 16,000. After the war, many of the facilities continued to be used and some were converted to different uses. One example is that the Denver Ordnance Plant was converted into the Denver Federal Center. More federal agencies began to come to the area which already had a large federal footprint and a well trained work force. The Commission, National, National, and Technology all opened offices in the Denver area. From 1953 to 1989, the Rocky Flats Plant, a Department of Energy nuclear weapon facility formerly located about 15 miles (24 km) from Denver, produced fissile plutonium "pits" for nuclear warheads. A major fire at the facility in 1957, as well as leakage from nuclear waste stored at the site between 1958 and 1968, resulted in the contamination of some parts of Denver, to varying degrees, with plutonium-239, a harmful radioactive substance with a half-life of 24,200 years. The bad news is that studies documented that the contamination to an increase in birth defects and cancer incidence in central Denver and nearer Rocky Flats. With the large military and federal presence in the area the aerospace industry followed. Large corporations such as IBM, Packard, Honeywell, Ball Aerospace, and Lockheed-Martin came to Denver. These businesses brought jobs and money with them and began to influence the city displacing the wealthy entrepreneurs and pioneer families that had previously dominated political life.
In 1947, J. Quigg Newton was elected mayor and began the process of modernizing the government, expanding public housing, setting up one the nation's first civil rights commissions. At the time restrictive racial covenants were common in every major city in the country. Long before the Civil Rights Acts were enacted, the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Commission passed one of the earliest fair housing laws in the nation permitting Mexican-Americans, African-Americans, Japanese-Americans, and Jewish people to move into neighborhoods previously denied to them. These new laws upset many and contributed to the flight of middle-class families to the suburbs. Despite these laws, discrimination was still very prevalent. Yet, the work of the Newton’s Human Rights and Community Relations spared Denver some of the racial unrest that occurred in other cities in the post-war years. Over four million soldiers had come through Denver during the war for training or recuperation and after the war ended many choose to make Denver their home. As Denver's population expanded rapidly, many old buildings were torn down to make way for new housing projects. The Denver Urban Renewal Authority demolished block after block to make room for apartments and parking lots. Many of Denver's finest buildings from the frontier era were demolished, including the Tabor Opera House, as the city expanded upward and outward. By 1950, middle-class families were moving away from the downtown area seeking larger houses and better schools; the suburbs multiplied as more people moved out of the city. In the 1960's, Victorian homes were considered old-fashioned and unpopular and were targeted for demolition.
The destruction of so many of these homes spurred Denverites to form the Denver Landmark Preservation Commission and Historic Denver, Inc. which raised awareness of the value of these historic buildings and established the local historical preservation movement. During this time, Denver was a gathering point for poets of the "beat generation." Beat icon Neal Cassady was raised on Larimer Street in Denver, and a portion of Jack Kerouac's beat masterpiece "On the Road" takes place in the city, and is based on the beat's actual experiences in Denver during a road trip. Beat poet Allen Ginsberg lived for a time in the Denver suburb of Lakewood, and he helped found the Buddhist college, Naropa University or the "Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at Naropa" in nearby Boulder. Denver was also a gathering place for a new Chicano Movement. In March 1969, a convention hosted by Rodolfo Gonzales's Crusade for Justice was held in Denver and the Plan was adopted as a manifesto for the movement. The Crusade for Justice was instrumental in bringing attention to the plight of Mexican-Americans living in Denver and laid the ground work for Hispanics to be in city government.
Denver and the Civil Rights Movement
The Civil Rights Movement of Denver has a long history. Back decades ago, African Americans in Denver faced harsh discrimination and violence in their struggle for equality and justice. There are countless stories of people among many backgrounds who fought for equality and justice. Denver is in the West, so there were many African American farmers, ranchers, and cowboys in the Denver area during the 19th century. The racist Anti-Chinese riot of 1880 was when racists assaulted Chinese people in Denver, especially in Chinatown. Many citizens tried to protect Asian Americans during that riot. Dr. Joseph Henry Peter Wesbrook was another early Denver figure involved in early civil rights history. He was born in 1878 in Mississippi. He graduated from Fisk College and Meharry Medical College in Nashville. He came into Denver in 1907 to start his medical practice. He was a doctor and pharmacy owner in Denver for 35 years. He was part of the NAACP too. Human beings like Grace Jordan were members of Denver’s early civil rights movement. Grace Jordan experienced racism and other forms of oppression. A little after World War II, Grace Jordan and other activists fought against segregation in Denver. Decades ago, black people experienced discrimination, racism, economic deprivation, and violence. Thelma Gash worked hard and became a teacher and principal for several schools in Denver. Even during the 1920's, Denver Mayor Ben Staplton openly pledged his support to the Klan.
Grace Jordan fought to open doors of diner to people of any race. In 1961, Denver had its CORE branch as the civil rights movement grew. Segregation in Denver existed in stores, schools, and other places back during the early 1960’s. CORE pressured department stores to integrate schools, housing, and other places. Purnell Steen spoke about the sit-in movement in Denver, Colorado during the 1960's and the successes of that movement in desegregating local businesses. He recalled, “There was a department store … they had maids and janitors … but they did not have any people of color. We met with the manager of the store who assured us…as long as he was the manager … there would never be a person of color.” June 25, 1963 was when white and black marchers joined hands to approach the Denver City and County building to have a demonstration to protest discriminatory practices. On September 21, 1963, civil rights organizations representatives at parade ordinance meeting. The people in that meeting included Richard Young, James Reynolds, Edward Shoman, Alan Swallow, William Pinkett, and Sheldon Steinhauser.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. came into Denver in 1965. On March 13, 1965, thousands of Coloradans were in the Denver Capitol to express solidarity with the Selma voting rights movement. In 1965, Rachel B. Noel was the first African American elected to the Denver Public School board and the first African American woman ever to serve elected office in Colorado. She promoted civil rights then and now. She was born in Hampton, Virginia. On April 25, 1968, she presented the DPS board with the Noel Resolution, which asked the superintendent to develop a plan to integrate Denver's public schools. Under a cloud of threats to Noel and her family, the resolution passed in 1970. The decision of 1973 Keyes v. Denver School District made Denver the first city outside of the American South to get instructions by the Supreme Court to address segregation with school busing. Noel was a teacher and African American studies in 1969. She served as chair of the African American Studies Department from 1971 to 1980. Noel served on the Advisory Board of the United States Civil Rights Commission.
Rachel B. Noel passed away in 2008 in Oakland at the age of 90. On November 17, 1965, The Civic Center assembly, from behind the platform, had a choir in the foreground and torch bearers beyond at the Wednesday night ceremony. The Denver Religious Council on Human Relations gave homage to the martyrs in the civil rights cause during the hour-long meeting in which some 350 persons, including clergy, participated on a chilly night in downtown Denver. George Morrison was a black man who fought to end segregation in Denver public school. He was the first African American principal at a Denver Public School. “I stood on many shoulders and they’re standing now on our shoulders and we’re hoping that future generations will stand on their shoulders to keep this whole process of desegregation going,” Morrison says. Decades ago, Hispanic Americans also fought for their human rights too. Rodolfo "Corky" Gonzales in Denver defined the meaning of Chicano through his epic poem entitled, I am Joaquin. He convened the first-ever Chicano youth conference in March 1969, which was attended by many future Chicano activists and artists. The conference also promulgated the Plan Espiritual de Aztlán, a manifesto demanding self-determination for Chicanos. As an early figure of the movement for the equal rights of Mexican Americans, he is often considered one of the founders of the Chicano Movement. His early political involvement in the Democratic party centered around campaigning for mayor of Denver Quigg Newton in 1947 when he registered Latino voters for the Democratic party in 1950. He lead the Colorado “Viva Kennedy” campaign. Corky’s unsuccessful efforts to organize for change within the Democratic party became a crucial turning point for his alternative politics and the foundation of the Crusade for Justice in 1967.
Many black people live in the Five Points area, which is a historic landmark and an African American region of the city. Many jazz musicians performed in the Five Points in Denver. It was called the “Harlem of the West.” Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, Billie Holiday, Duke Ellington and other legends all played to packed houses here in the 1940's and 1950's. On January 14, 1975, Black legislators lead walkout Tuesday at inaugural ceremonies for Gov. Dick Lamm. State Rep. Wellington Webb, left, and State Sen. Regis Groff leave ceremony as Dick Lamm was preparing to be sworn in as Colorado's 33rd governor Tuesday at the State Capitol. They led a group protesting Lamm's failure to make any appointment to high office from black applicants.
The Black Power movement also had a great importance in the city of Denver too. Lauren Watson was the founder of the Denver Chapter of the Black Panthers. The Black Panther movement was strong in Denver. On December 12, 1968, Denver Black Panthers leave the post office building after filing a complaint. The people there were Sorl Shead (Denver Black Panther deputy minister of finance), Clarke Watson (he’s the brother of Lauren Watson or a Denver Panther leader), Lauren Watson, and Ronnell Stewart (Panther department minister of information). In February 23, 1972, a group of University of Denver students protested the lack of news coverage of minority affairs on the campus by the school’s newspaper called the Clarion. The students burned copies of the paper on Wednesday. About 3-0 students of the Black Students Alliance took part in protest in front of the student union. Russ Richardson, a DU Law school student and Spokesman for the group, said he and other members of the group wanted to meet with Chancellor Maurice Mitchell to handle the situation.
There was a Miss Black Denver pageant in 1969. On April 17, 1969, Paul Chambers, of the Black Student Alliance at CSU, told a crowd estimated at 500, that President Morgan, right, with arms folded, apparently doesn't understand demands presented to administration. Morgan told audience on grounds at Administration building, more money would be needed to meet stated goals. X-Ray Technician Florine Callaway, Colorado's first black pro bowler.
Today, many civil rights activists are in Denver like Alvertis Simmons. Jackie Wesley is an African American woman who is the founder of Fighting Together to Save Lives. This group is trying to help people with breast cancer. Dr. Bernard Gibson is Colorado’s first board certified African American surgeon. Carlotta Walls LaNier (she was part of the Little Rock Nine) works in Colorado to have many people. Sandra Dillard-Scott, the first African American woman to be hired by a Colorado daily newspaper and 29-year veteran of The Denver Post. There is still a long way to go in Denver with poverty, economic inequality, and other issues. Yet, Denver will get better and heroic people are in Denver fighting for real, progressive change too. We shall overcome someday.
Downtown Growth and the Suburbs
After World War II, oil and gas companies opened offices in Denver. The reason is that they are in close proximity to the mountains and the energy fields contained within. The price of oil rose during the 1970’s energy crisis. So, these same companies fueled a skyscraper boom in the downtown area. A second office core was opened in the suburban Denver Tech Center. That center was made to accommodate the higher demand for office space. Many original downtown saloons and old buildings were renovated and revitalized. Many other cities during that time were threatened with bankruptcy and crime, but Denver was actively growing and renewing its downtown. In 1969, the Colorado Supreme Court ruled that ‘optional’ attendance zones constituted segregation and ordered schools to be de-segregated. This triggered the dynamiting of school vehicles and fire-bombing of school buildings. Denver complied with the law by annexing neighboring towns and busing students.
By the mid-1970's many wealthy residents were leaving Denver. In 1974 anti-integrationists used the fears about the impact of interracial relationships as well as the recent tensions between Denver and its neighbors to pass the Poundstone Amendment to the state constitution. Its supporters claimed the amendment would prevent Denver from abusing its size and status, while detractors pointed out that it greatly limited the ability of the city to absorb other school districts and thus end segregation in its schools. With the combined spending of the energy companies and the federal government, Denver expanded quickly. Denver went from having a small urban core surrounded by rural farms to a booming downtown dotted with skyscrapers and surrounded by growing suburbs. The majority of the new people settled in the suburbs; Denver's population was essentially flat at about 490,000 from 1960 to 1980 even as the land area grew by 40 square miles (100 km2). With the expansion came problems. Traffic increased due to poor public transportation and pollution increased due to traffic.
Denver Tramway had been responsible for all public transportation in Denver since the turn of the century, but with aging equipment, low revenues, and lackluster ridership it eventually dissolved. Author Sherah Collins writes, "... in 1970, Denver had more cars per capita than any other place in the country, which is not surprising due to the lack of public transit options." In 1974 the Regional Transportation District took over responsibility for Denver's public transportation. During this period a "brown cloud" began to form over the Front Range, a result of air pollution from the increasing number of cars and people in the area. This cloud of pollution would take more than two decades to get rid of and was a serious concern for people living in the Denver area. Many people had moved to Denver for the beautiful landscapes and climate. The environment had always been an important issue to Coloradans and when Denver was selected to host the 1976 Winter Olympics to coincide with Colorado's centennial anniversary, a movement against hosting the games was formed based largely on concerns around the environmental impact of having so many people come to the area. Colorado voters struck down ballot initiatives allocating public funds to pay for the high costs of the games, and they were subsequently moved to Innsbruck, Austria.
The movement against hosting the games was led by then State Representative Richard Lamm who was subsequently elected as Colorado governor in 1974. With the 1979 energy crisis the price of oil rose to over $30 a barrel, but by the mid-1980's the price had slid to under $10 a barrel. Thousands of oil and gas industry workers lost their jobs and unemployment rates soared. Downtown Denver had been overbuilt over the past two decades and the cost of office space dropped as office vacancy rates grew to the highest in the nation at 30-percent. Housing prices fell, the exodus from the city to the suburbs continued and the city fell into disrepair. By 1990 the population of the city had fallen to 467,610 the lowest level in over 30 years. Yet, Denver would revitalize by the 1990's.
Recession and new Growth
During the 1980’s, Denver experienced a lot of changes. In 1983, Federico Peña became the city's first Latino mayor. One of his central campaign messages was a promise of inclusiveness targeted at minorities. Latino turnout reached 73% in 1983, a contrast to the usually low Latino rates elsewhere. When the economic downturn happened in the mid-1980s, Peña convinced Denverites to reinvest billions in their city even though many critics complained that taking loans in the middle of a recession was a wrong policy. Under the leadership of Peña voters approved a $3 billion airport, the $126 million Colorado Convention Center, and a $242 million bond for infrastructure. Also, the voters approved a $200 million bond for Denver Public Schools, and a 0.1 per cent sales tax to build a new baseball stadium for the Colorado Rockies. Many people worried that Denver was on the wrong track when the city's total bonded indebtedness peaked at over $1 billion. Mayor Peña wanted more investments in Denver. He worked with the surrounding suburbs to market Denver as a vibrant city. He used the special tax district model exemplified by the Regional Transportation District, a Scientific and cultural Facilities District was set up and a 0.1 percent sales tax. This sales tax was approved by voters to fund artistic, cultural, and scientific organizations in the Denver metropolitan area. In 1995, these organizations attracted over 7.1 million visitors. But one of Peña's signature achievements was the laying of the foundation for Denver. In 1957, Denver’s original airport, Stapleton International Airport, was the eighth busiest airport in the nation. By the mid 1980’s, it had become the seventh largest airport in the world and the fourth busiest in the United States. It was at first built 3 miles east of downtown. It was in farmland. As decades came about, the city began to surround it. Stapleton didn’t have room to expand. The Colorado General Assembly brokered a deal to annex land from Adams County to Denver County for the new airport. It increased Denver’s size by 53 square miles in the single largest annexation in the city’s history. It opened 2 years late and shuttered a much hyped automated baggage system. Denver International Airport is widely considered a success has contributed significantly to economy of the region.
In 1991, at a time when the city was 12% Black and 20% Latino, Wellington Webb won a come-from-behind victory as the city's first black mayor. The Hispanic and Black minority communities supported the candidate at 75-85% levels. Webb, who also won 44% of the white vote, reached out to the business community, promoting downtown economic development and major projects such as the new airport, Coors Field, and a new convention center. During his administration, Denver built the Blair-Caldwell African American Research Library in the historic Five Points neighborhood, and helped pass several neighborhood bonds for infrastructure improvements citywide. At the end of the eighties, Denver’s economy started to grow. The unemployment rate in Denver dropped to 5.3 percent. It was in a high of 9.7 percent in 1982. Pollution control measures existed. That helped to eliminate the noxious “brown cloud” had hung over the city. Lower Downtown was at first a warehouse district. It was renovated and became part of a new urban development area. Denver had very cheap office space. So, many local companies started to lock in long term leases. This kept those companies in Denver. Prices went up. As inventories emptied out and prices stabilized from speculation of earlier years, Colorado's climate and well educated labor force began to bring people and business back to the area. The economy grew and the population grew as well. Many Denverites left the city for the greater space offered by the suburbs, but for each citizen lost others came from out of state to settle in their place. Traffic grew and many people from the suburbs moved out to rural areas. This situation of urban sprawl was a cause of concern, and the Club ranked the Denver metro area among its 10 worst offenders. In 1999, Colorado residents ranked growth as the state's number one problem. That same year Denver metro area voters approved two property-tax increases to help fund the Transportation Expansion (T-REX) project, which reconstructed congested highways and laid light-rail tracks between downtown and the Tech Center. Colorado's population had expanded from 3.1 million at the beginning of the 1990s to over 4 million by the end, and Denver closed out the decade with more than 554,000 people.
The 21st Century
Denver in the 21st century has gone through a lot of changes. By the year of 2001, the First Look Film Festival began and the Mizuna restaurant was in business there too. Denver has experienced a lot of growth. There are many transporation projects in Denver too. T-REX was completed in November 2006, which was 22 months ahead of schedule. T-REX transportation system has been very successful in Denver. This has led to public support for the FastTrack’s expansion project in 2004. These projects helped to alleviate some of the worst traffic congestion in the Denver metro area. Projects are growing. Through the late 1990's the majority of Denver's economy was concentrated in a few key sectors: energy, government and the military, technology, and agriculture. In 2005, Denver has legalized marijuana. Over the next decade Denver and Colorado attracted new industries and the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT) says the state now has 14 core industries including health care, financial services and tourism. This diversification of the economy helped cushion the city and state from the global recession of 2008-2010. The fact that Denver's tax base is made up mostly of sales and income tax meant that it felt the economic downturn faster than others, but this meant it also recovered more quickly, helping Denver weather the recession better than many other U.S. cities reliant mainly on property taxes.
In 2008, Denver hosted the Democratic National Convention where Barack Obama gave his historic speech to accept the nomination of Presidential candidate for the Democratic Party. Barack Obama would later become the first African American President and win 2 terms. In 2012, the Denver Comic con begins. A Comic Con is when comic book fans and science fiction fans unite to celebrate comic books and science fiction culture. There is also celebrations and many people there where costumes. Businessman John Hickenlooper was elected mayor in 2003 and reelected in 2007 with 87% of the vote. After he was elected governor of Colorado in 2011, Michael Hancock was elected Denver's second African American mayor.
The Culture of Denver
The culture of Denver has a long history and a diverse composition. Denver is a Western city. Back during the 19th century, Denver had the Apollo Hall and the Horace Tabor Opera House that gave people enjoyment. Also, today, there are a lot of parks, parkways, and museums which represent the longstanding, beautiful culture of Denver. Denver Pavilions is a popular arts, entertainment, and shopping center on the 16th Street Mall in downtown Denver. The municipal Auditorium was home to the 1908 Democratic National 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 Metropolitan Area approved the Scientific and Cultural Facilities Tax (commonly known as SCFD), a 1 cent sales tax that contributes money to various cultural and scientific facilities and organizations throughout the Metro area. The tax was renewed by voters in 1994 and 2004 and allows the SCFD to operate until 2018. Denver is known for its locations that promote scientific research. The Denver Museum of Nature and Science currently holds an aquamarine specimen valued at over one million dollars, as well as specimens of the state mineral, rhodochrosite. Every September, the Denver Mart, located at 451 E. 58th Avenue hosts a gem and mineral show.
Denver has a rich African American heritage too. The Black American West Museum shows information about the huge role that black Americans played in the settlement of Colorado as miners, soldiers, homesteaders, school teachers, ranchers, blacksmiths, cowboys, lawmen, and more. It shows the history of the West. It shows the pioneer black town of Dearfield. The five Points is the area in Denver where there was great African American commerce existed during the early 20th century. It was called the Harlem of the West since it had clubs where Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, Bille Holiday, and Duke Ellington including other legends performed in the 1940’s and the 1950’s. The Stiles African American Heritage Center celebrates the contributions made by African Americans. It has artifacts, memorabilia, cultural exhibits, and guided tours. Denver has one of the country's largest populations of Hispanic Americans and hosts four large Mexican American celebrations: Cinco de Mayo (with over 500,000 attendees), in May, El Grito de la Independencia, in September, the annual Lowrider show, and the Dia De Los Muertos art shows/events in North Denver's Highland neighborhood, and the Lincoln Park neighborhood in the original section of West Denver. Denver is also famous for its dedication to New Mexican cuisine and the chile. It's best known for its green and red chile sauce, Colorado burrito, Southwest (Denver) omelette, breakfast burrito, chiles rellenos, and tamales. Denver is also well known for other types of food such as Rocky Mountain oysters, rainbow trout, and the Denver sandwich. Asian celebrations are found in Denver too.