Denver’s second coming-out party
Local officials will showcase at the Democratic convention a city transformed – just as they did a hundred years ago.
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“We have a real sense of ‘if you build it they will come.’ That was true in 1908 and its very true today,” says William Convery, state historian with the Colorado Historical Society and a fourth generation Denverite.Skip to next paragraph
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The parallels between the 1908 convention and this year’s shouldn’t be drawn out too far, says Mr. Convery. Both can be seen as showcasing different stages of the city’s transformation, but there are differences, too. Since 1908, there’s been a civil rights movement and women’s rights movement, black and Hispanic mayors. Major league sports teams call the city home.
Convention planners may have also been drawn to the city to boost the party’s nominee, Barack Obama, in Mountain West states that have changed from red to purple on the political spectrum as liberal young newcomers and minorities continue to move here.
The convention will be somewhat of a test for Hickenlooper, who came into office with a tremendous popularity in 2003 and was reelected in 2007.
Can he keep it safe, deal with the protesters, make good on his green challenge, and ensure a stress-free four days for Denverites who jealously guard their laid-back lifestyle?
The mayor has won accolades for his efforts to green the city – he aims to decrease its greenhouse-gas footprint by more than 10 percent and is a booster of the FasTracks project to bring 119 miles of light rail tracks to the area. But he also faces some criticism for not pushing other counties in the region to follow Denver’s lead.
Jeremy Nicholas, director of Rocky Mountain Clean Air Action, says that Denver’s green efforts are being erased “by cities like Aurora and other suburbs that aren’t doing anything about environmental issues.”
As natural gas drilling continues to boom north of Denver, Mr. Nicholas worries that the emissions will further degrade the city’s air quality. “[It’s] this huge stew that we’re all in.”
Hickenlooper says that other counties are moving at different paces, but that all the elected officials in the region want to help improve Denver area’s air quality, which the Environmental Protection Agency said violated the eight-hour federal health-based standard in 2005, 2006, and for the first three quarters of 2007.
Colorado Oil and Gas Association’s Collins says that environmentalists shouldn’t be too quick to point out the implications of increased gas exploration and mining.
“Let’s not lose sight of the fact that we’re going to be a carbon economy for decades. We can all work together, but you don’t have to bash oil and gas to promote renewables,” she says.
The Mile-High City
As of 2007, a population of 588,349 made Denver the 26th most populous city in the US. Hispanics make up 34.8 percent and African-Americans, 9.9 percent.
• Nicknamed “Mile-High City” because its official elevation is exactly one mile above sea level.
• Back when it was a frontier mining camp, local boosters named it Denver to win the political support of Kansas Territorial Gov. James Denver.
• The city will be 150 years old this November. It was destroyed twice, once by fire and once by flood.
• The median home price is $289,900.