Driving Downtown – Denver Colorado USA – Episode 53.
Starting Point: Colfax Avenue .
Denver is one of the fastest-growing major cities in the United States and is the capital and most populous municipality of the U.S. state of Colorado. Denver is just east of the Front Range 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, making it the highest major city in the United States.
With an estimated population of 693,060 in 2016, Denver is the 19th-most populous U.S. city, with a 15.48% increase since the 2010 United States Census. In 2016, Denver was named the best place to live in the United States by U.S. News & World Report.
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.
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 is home to a variety of sports teams and is one of the U.S. cities with teams from four major sports (the Denver metro area is the smallest metropolitan area to have a team in all four major sports). The Denver Broncos of the National Football League have drawn crowds of over 70,000 since their origins in the early 1960s, and continue to draw fans today to their current home Sports Authority Field at Mile High. The Broncos have sold out every home game (except for strike-replacement games) since 1970. The Broncos have advanced to eight Super Bowls and won back-to-back titles in 1997 and 1998, and won again in 2015.
Because of its proximity to the mountains and generally sunny weather, Denver has gained a reputation as being a very active, outdoor-oriented city. Many Denver residents spend the weekends in the mountains; skiing in the winter and hiking, climbing, kayaking, and camping in the summer.
Denver and surrounding cities are home to a large number of local and national breweries. Many of the region’s restaurants have on-site breweries, and some larger brewers offer tours, including Coors and New Belgium Brewing Company. The city also welcomes visitors from around the world when it hosts the annual Great American Beer Festival each fall.