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"America the beautiful" Mile-High Denver Colorado

© By Mike Keenan
  Coors Field The first thing one must appreciate about this city built in the sky is that Denver loves sport. It's one of two U.S. cities with eight professional teams. I will always remember resourceful quarterback John Elway leading his Broncos to victory in NFL playoffs. The Colorado Rockies opened at home April 9, 1993 to 80,277 fans, most ever to witness an opening game in baseball history. They broke 11 Major League Baseball records, including the most single-season fans, 4,483,350, a figure that stands as the most to attend any American sports team’s games in a single season. Denver is the only American city to open three new stadiums in a 10 year span. Like running? Colfax Avenue is the longest continuous street in the United States and hosts an annual marathon.
     But it's not all sport. For example, horticulture receives its due as the Denver City Parks Department grows 240,000 flowers a year in their own greenhouse and plants them in 506 flowerbeds throughout the city. That’s over seven acres of flowers that, if laid out end to end, would stretch for 56 miles (90 km). The Botanic Gardens is one of the top five botanic gardens in America, with more than 32,000 plants, representing over 2,000 species, including seven that are classified as endangered.
     If you enjoy strolling and admiring nature, the Denver Zoo boasts a diverse animal collection with 3,500 animals, representing more than 685 species, including 157 that are classified as threatened or endangered. Think your dining bills are high? It costs $38,000 a day to care for the animals and operate the zoo!
     If you crave recreational hiking, skiing or perhaps some fishing, Colorado's mountains are six times the size of that of Switzerland, containing 9,600 miles (15,449 km) of fishing streams, 2,850 lakes, and more than 1,000 peaks two miles (3,218 km) high. The road to the top of the 14,260-foot (4,346 km) peak of Mount Evans is the highest paved road in North America, maintained and operated by Denver City Parks Department. In 1893, while atop nearby Pikes Peak, Katharine Lee Bates was so stirred that she wrote the words to “America the Beautiful.” The Colorado Trail is a 500-mile-long hiking trail, stretching from Durango to Denver, and crosses eight mountain ranges, seven national forests, six wilderness areas, and five river systems. 13th Step Of The Capitol Building
     Historically, local boosters named the frontier mining camp on the South Platte River “Denver” after Kansas Territorial Governor James Denver, hoping to secure political favour, but unfortunately, he retired and there were three separate towns with three separate names. In 1859, the other names were dropped in return for a barrel of whiskey to be shared by all. Fittingly, the first permanent structure in Denver was a saloon.
     Denver is one of few cities not built on a road, railroad, lake, navigable river or body of water. Why? Gold! The first few flakes were found here in 1858. The dome of the State Capitol is appropriately covered with 200 ounces of 24K gold. However, the truly precious material resides inside the building where the wainscoting is made of Colorado onyx, a rare stone found near Beulah, Colorado. Incredibly, the entire world’s supply was used up in this building and no more has ever been found. Take a tour of the capitol and locate the round brass cap embedded in the western entrance stairs marking the exact spot of Mile-High Denver's elevation.
     Mayor John Hickenlooper claims that Denver receives more sunshine than San Diego or Miami. "It's a hidden jewel of recreation and culture. We spend more money on culture here than on sports." You will be impressed by art gallery, its architecture and stunning outward appearance. Locals call the northern edge of the city “LoDo,” or lower downtown, where people venture at night for music and entertainment. Refurbished Victorian and turn-of-the-century buildings and warehouses are home to an eclectic array of restaurants, art galleries, offices, and shops.
     In 1935, the world’s first “cheeseburger” came off the grill at Louis Ballast’s Humpty Dumpty drive-in restaurant in Denver. A small memorial to this historic dining event can be found at 2776 North Speer Blvd., in the parking lot of Key Bank.
     Denver celebrates its fair share of famous people. Golda Meir, Israeli prime minister, attended North High School, and Douglas Fairbanks was expelled from East High School before becoming one of the biggest silent movie stars of all time. Hattie McDaniel, the first African American to win an Academy Award for her performance in “Gone with the Wind,” also attended East High School.

Convention Center  Denver Art Museum  Denver Art Museum  Elitch Gardens  State Capitol  Denver Skyline

     For day-trips, try Central City, located about 45 minutes west of Denver, known as the “Richest Square Mile on Earth” due to the half billion dollars of gold that was mined there. The Pikes Peak Railway, located about an hour and a half south of Denver in Colorado Springs, is the highest cog railway in the world, traveling 8.9 miles from 6,571 feet to the summit at 14,110 feet. And last but not least, Buffalo Bill Cody, American soldier, bison hunter and showman. was buried on top of Lookout Mountain near Denver. A small museum describes his intriguing life.

Mike Keenan writes for QMI Agency (Sun Media) Canada's largest newspaper publisher, printing 44 daily newspapers as well as a web portal, Canoe.ca. Besides regular columns for the St. Catharines Standard, Welland Tribune and Niagara Falls Review. Mike has been published in the Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, Buffalo Spree, Stitches, West of the City and Hamilton-Burlington's View Magazine. His work is found in QMI published dailies such as the Toronto Sun, Ottawa Sun, Vancouver Sun, London Free Press, Calgary Sun, Winnipeg Sun and Edmonton Sun.

Photo Credits
Courtesy of Denver Convention & Visitors Centre

If you go
Denver, Colorado
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Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Denver
Wikitravel: http://wikitravel.org/en/Denver
About.com: http://denver.about.com/
Denver Convention & Visitors Centre: http://www.denver.org/

What's happening, money, distance, time?
Media Guide: http://www.abyznewslinks.com/
Currency conversion: http://www.xe.com/ucc/
Distance calculator: http://www.indo.com/distance/
Time zone converter: http://www.timezoneconverter.com/

Transportation, visas, health, maps and temperature
Airlines (Wikipedia): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_airlines
Embassies/Consulates (Embassy World): http://www.embassyworld.com/
Health precautions (WHO): http://www.who.int/ith/en/
Google interactive map: http://maps.google.com/
Temperature (Temperature World): http://www.temperatureworld.com/




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