Denver at 150

November 2008

Denver, Colorado, USA. The name itself evokes images of rugged gold miners and rough-hewn saloons and a Wild West history replete with pioneers and rogues and heroes. All of which is accurate, of course.

But peel back the layers of cliché and you'll find the true Denver, a city that in a brief 150 years has written its own rich, varied—and often paradoxical—historical narrative. It's a city in which gilded economic booms gave way to crushing busts, with each ensuing upturn inviting brilliant entrepreneurs and conniving hustlers to come to the shadow of the Rockies seeking newfound riches. It's a city that has served as a cradle of equal-rights efforts for Latinos and African-Americans yet once was run by a friend of the Ku Klux Klan. It's a city that, in 1993, hosted a once-in-a-lifetime, peace-themed papal visit, yet it's also been known for settling its disputes—racial, territorial, economic—with whatever weapon the era favored, from fists to pipe bombs. And it's a city of contradictory tastes: In equal measure and with unquenchable gusto, Denverites have always loved their saloons and churches, cowboy boots and business suits, cultural icons and sports gods.

To celebrate this history, 5280 asked several esteemed writers—some with deep roots in Colorado, others who are more recent transplants—to weigh in on how the city's past and present have influenced their own lives.

Mountain Passage By Janis Hallowell
Going "Native" With A Kayak By Maximillian Potter
An Urban Perspective By Laura Pritchett
Birth of the Cool By Eli Gottlieb
Close Encounters By Andrew Corsello
Yesterday's News By J.R. Moehringer

Read the full 150th anniversary package in the November 2008 issue of 5280 magazine.