About half of all new businesses fail, and the survival rate is even worse for new magazines: Sixty percent will shut down in their first year, and only one in 10 will last a decade. So why is 5280 celebrating its 20th anniversary? I’d love to tell you it was my smarts and talent that made the difference, but all I can say for certain is that I was relentlessly, perhaps pathologically, stubborn.

Truth be told, our success has had much more to do with the many generous and talented people I’ve had the very good fortune to encounter over the past 20 years. Co-workers, advertisers, newsstand operators, readers, and friends—there are far more of you than I could ever name here, but please know that my gratitude is deep and real.

Still, as I look back over the last two decades, I realize that we also had a secret weapon all along: Denver itself. Make no mistake, our Mile High City has changed dramatically over the past 20 years. As I wrote in this same space on our 10th anniversary:

Denver was a much different place in 1993. Back then, there were only seven Starbucks in the entire city. Coors Field and DIA had yet to open. The Broncos played at Mile High Stadium and the Avalanche played in Quebec. There was no Pepsi Center, no light rail, no Park Meadows.… Lowry was an Air Force base.

But for all the changes, at least one thing has remained constant. Denver has always been a place that welcomes newcomers with big dreams. Founded by pioneers in search of a better life, that spirit continues to this day—and is perhaps best personified by an out-of-work geologist who opened the city’s first brewpub, sparked downtown’s revitalization, and ended up as Colorado’s governor. But it was no less real for a 32-year-old journalist who believed he could launch a magazine from his second bedroom only two years after moving to town. Unlike other cities where your prospects depend on your pedigree or where you went to school, Denver simply asks, “What can you contribute?”

All of us at 5280 are incredibly grateful for the opportunities this city has given us. It couldn’t have happened anywhere else.

To celebrate our 20th anniversary, we’re shining a light on the fact that, as a local business, we love working with local talent. Every issue of 5280 showcases Colorado writers, photographers, and illustrators, but for this issue, we took that credo even further: We invited Front Range creatives to submit ideas for our first-ever cover contest. Entries streamed in, but the winning design, by Lakewood-based illustratorJeremy Pruitt (thinkmule.com), perfectly fit Denver’s vibe and 5280’s aesthetic. With a rustic yet modern look, an inherent approachability, and an eye-catching color palette, Pruitt’s illustration celebrates Denver in just the right way—something we’ve enjoyed doing at 5280 for two decades.

This article was originally published in 5280 July 2013.
Daniel Brogan
Daniel Brogan
Daniel Brogan is the founder, CEO, and Editor-in-Chief of 5280 Publishing, Inc.