The William Green Russell party of prospectors discovered a few ounces of gold in the summer of 1858 at the convergence of Cherry Creek and the South Platte River, where the city officially designated Confluence Park in 1976. That fall, on November 22, 1858, William H. Larimer founded Colorado's capital - named for James W. Denver, Governor of Kansas Territory of which eastern Colorado was then a part. Gold-seeking adventurers immediately followed, sparking a mass migration of some 100,000 in 1859-60, leading the federal government to establish Colorado Territory in 1861.
Before the great Colorado gold rush, the Rocky Mountains offered little to attract settlers, except "hairy bank notes," the beaver pelts prized by fur trappers, traders and fashionably hatted gentlemen in Eastern America and Europe.
Denverites built a network of railroads that made their town the banking, minting, supply and processing center not only for Colorado, but for neighboring states. Between 1870 when the first railroads arrived and 1890, Denver grew from 4,759 to 106,713. In a single generation, it became the second most populous city in the West, second only to San Francisco.
Although founded as the main supply town for Rocky Mountain mining camps, Denver also emerged as a hub for high plains agriculture. Denver's breweries, bakeries, meat packing and other food-processing plants made it the regional agricultural center, as well as a manufacturing hub for farm and ranch equipment, barbed wire, windmills, seed, feed and harnesses.
The depression of 1893 and repeal of the Sherman Silver Purchase Act abruptly ended Denver's first boom. Civic leaders began promoting economic diversityï¿½growing wheat and sugar beets, manufacturing, tourism and service industries. The Denver Livestock Exchange and National Western Stock Show confirmed the city's role as the "cow town" of the Rockies. Denver real estate began growing again after 1900, but at a slower rate. Stockyards, brickyards, canneries, flour mills, leather and rubber goods nourished the city. Of the many Denver-area breweries, only Coors has survived, becoming the nation's third largest brewer.
A diverse business economy, top-ranked educational institutions, vibrant cultural and recreational opportunities and championship sports teams are just some of the great characteristics of the Denver real estate area. At an altitude of 5,280 feet, Denver's proximity to the Rocky Mountains offers visitors an abundance of recreation options. Part of the area's resilience lies in the metro area's distinct and diverse business base. There is also a local commitment to creating a favorable business environment while maintaining a casual and enjoyable lifestyle.
Regional or national headquarters of many oil and gas firms in the Mile High City fueled much of Denver's post-World War II growth and an eruption of 40- and 50-story high-rise buildings downtown, during the 1970s. Denver's economic base has come to include skiing and tourism, electronics, computers, aviation and the nation's largest telecommunications center. As the regional center of a vast mountain and plain hinterland, Denver boasts more federal employees than any city besides Washington, DC. Since the 1940s, the large federal center, augmented by state and local government jobs, has somewhat stabilized the city's boom-and-bust cycle.
The Metro Denver area is a magnet for a young, diverse, and highly educated workforce. According to the U.S. Census, between 1995 and 2000 Colorado had the second-highest migration rate in the U.S. for unmarried college graduates, with Metro Denver having the sixth-highest migration rate among all U.S. cities. Science and technology grads gravitate here, attracted by Metro Denver's concentration of technology occupations.
As one of the most isolated major cities in the United States, Denver always has been passionate about transportation systems. Fear of being bypassed began early when railroads and later, airlines, originally avoided Denver because of the 14,000-foot-high Rocky Mountain barrier just west of town. To secure Denver's place on national transportation maps, the city opened the new $5 billion, 55-square-mile Denver International Airport in 1995. It is the nation's largest in terms of area and capacity for growth, prompting boosters to call it the world's largest.
Sited on high plains at the eastern base of the Rocky Mountains, Denver has a sunny, cool, dry climate, averaging 13 inches of precipitation a year. The sun shines 300 days a year, and the usually benign climate and nearby Rocky Mountain playground have made tourism one of the Mile High City's economic mainstays. Warm chinook winds warm the winters between snowstorms.
The Metro Denver real estate market has stabilized, and offers great housing values. A broad spectrum of Denver homes are available, ranging from executive housing to entry-level homes and apartments. Although Denver home prices have appreciated in recent years, the Metro Denver real estate market has recently stabilized, and offers some of the best housing values of any major metropolitan area. Many communities, employers, and organizations in the Metro Denver area provide programs ranging from down payment assistance to community advocacy programs to increase the availability of affordable priced homes.
Mean household income: $55,129
Downtown Denver was one of only five "downtowns" to experience population gains of more than 35 % between 1970 and 2000.
Average household size: 2.3
Percentage of people 25 years and older with a bachelors or graduate/professional degree: 34.5 %.