Denver has little reason to exist, and that may be why its inhabitants excel at superlatives. Like most American towns, it has been through booms and busts, but Denver's big surges have been more dramatic than most -- gold, war, the space race, oil and then the dot-com rise and fall. Last year Denver was dubbed foreclosure capital of America as the backwash from the sub-prime mortgage market swept through the city's suburbs. Denver has been a victim of its own popularity -- the real estate tumble followed an extended period of growth. Sitting at the base of the Rocky Mountains, Denver is a lifestyle place for outdoors people. A pocket of affluence in the middle of nowhere, it has the eighth-highest per capita income in the United States. It has no unique selling proposition other than its pleasant environment and astonishing views. It has no port, no specific connection to a big industry, yet it has become a magnet for people seeking an alternative to urban jungle.After re-telling the tale of Denver's boom-and-bust oil economy, the Times finds some things to like:
However, in typical American fashion, when Denver decides to do something well, it pulls out all the stops. This is no cultural desert of ski bums and techie nerds. Denver boasts one of the more spectacular art museums in America, if not the world. Designed by Daniel Liebeskind, it is an exciting tumble of angular shapes and boasts an impressive modern art collection, not huge but of high quality, each piece given ample space and well explained. It puts to shame the clutter of many European museums. The big question is what Denver's next big idea might be, and there are some who believe that, once again, it could be energy. Not far from Denver, in Golden, is the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), which is enjoying a new lease of life as anxiety grows about energy security and greenhouse gases.Hat tip to Steven Silvers.
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