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José Espino-Paez; Photo by Dana Romanoff

5280’s Top 10 Long-Reads of 2015

It was a year of extraordinary journalism here at 5280. Revisit our most popular long-form stories of 2015. 

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As another year draws to a close, we’re looking back at the long-form stories that graced the pages of 5280 in 2015. Take a look at what piqued readers’ interest throughout the year, and discover a new piece of journalism to share with your friends and family.


1. No Man’s Land

By Chris Outcalt | April 2015

Our most popular long-read of the year looks at the immigration debate from another perspective. Twenty years ago, the state of Colorado granted José Espino-Paez a second chance. But no one told him that the federal government wouldn’t honor the same deal.

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Bonus: Read an update to Espino-Paez’s unique case.

—Photo by Dana Romanoff

2. Our Town: Homelessness in Denver

By 5280 staff; edited by Natasha Gardner | November 2015

Tonight, more than 6,000 people in the metro area won’t have homes of their own to sleep in. Even more are on the verge of homelessness because of rising housing costs and a surging population. Think it couldn’t happen to you? 5280 staffers spent a year researching and reporting for this long-form package, which takes an in-depth look at homelessness in our city.

—Photo by Jerilyn Forsythe

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3. Can CU Turn Its Lousy Football Program Around?

By Lindsey B. Koehler | August 2015

Twenty-five years ago, the University of Colorado football team was celebrating a piece of the NCAA national championship. Today, the program can’t buy a win. How did the Buffs lose their swagger—and will they ever get it back?

—Photo illustration by Sean Parsons

4. The Two Sides of Denver’s Real Estate Boom

By Robert Sanchez | October 2015

Finding affordable housing in Denver has never been more difficult. This white-hot market is dividing our city—and one student and a young investor are at ground zero of the monumental transformation.

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—Photo by Matt Nager

5. The Accidental Senator

By Patrick Doyle | May 2015

Michael Bennet’s brand of politics—moderate and pragmatic—is what many believe Congress needs. So why isn’t he more excited about being there?

—Photo by Benjamin Rasmussen

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6. The Precious Ordinary

By Chris Outcalt | June 2015

When a young writer reached out to Kent Haruf, Colorado’s most celebrated novelist generously offered his time—despite having recently learned he had a fatal illness. In his final months, the author spoke to Chris Outcalt about reading, writing, and the meaning of life.

—Illustration by Jason Seiler

7. The Truth About Suicide in Colorado

By Daliah Singer | September 2015

Stigma, silence, and fear have long dominated the issue of suicide. None of these will help reduce Colorado’s tragically high rate. But as I learned by working through my own family’s tragedy, the voices of those who have survived just might.

—Illustration by Emiliano Ponzi

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8. Rocket Man

By Robert Sanchez | July 2015

How Eric Coffman overcame a devastating accident and became the coolest spaceship designer you’ve ever heard about.

—Photo by Matt Nager

9. A Warrior’s Creed

By Kasey Cordell | July 2015

Ten years ago, Littleton native and Navy SEAL Danny Dietz Jr. died in Afghanistan so that one of his teammates might live.

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—Courtesy of Patsy Dietz-Shipley and Cindy Dietz-Marsh

10. An Inside Look at the Denver Police Department

By Natasha Gardner | September 2015

Mutual mistrust between citizens and the police has rarely been higher in America, and Denver is no exception. What’s being done on both sides of the thin blue line to remedy this—and is it enough?

—Photo by Jeff Nelson

Erin Skarda, Digital Editor

Erin oversees the editorial strategy for 5280.com, manages multimedia projects, and writes and edits articles for the website.

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