Denver Travel Guide


Denver was founded in the Kansas Territory in 1858. On November 22 of that year, General William Larimer, a land speculator from eastern Kansas, placed cottonwood logs to stake a square-mile claim on the hill overlooking the confluence of the South Platte River and Cherry Creek, across the creek from the existing mining settlement of Auraria.

The site was accessible to existing trails and had previously been the site of seasonal encampments of the Cheyenne and Arapaho. Larimer, along with associates in the Denver City Land Company, sold parcels in the town to merchants and miners, with the intention of creating a major city that would cater to new emigrants. The name "Denver City" was chosen to honor Kansas territorial governor James W. Denver, in order to ensure that the city would become the county seat of then Arapaho County, Kansas. Ironically, when Larimer named it after Denver, he was unaware that James Denver had already resigned as governor.

In the first few years, while the town grew, land parcels were often traded freely for grubstakes and in the course of gambling by miners in Auraria. The city was incorporated on November 7, 1861, several months after the formation of the Colorado Territory. Denver was the county seat of Arapahoe County, Colorado until the creation of Denver County in 1902.

Denver was selected to host the 1976 Winter Olympics to coincide with Colorado's centennial anniversary, but Colorado voters struck down ballot initiatives allocating public funds to pay for the high costs of the games, so they were moved to Innsbruck, Austria. The movement against hosting the games was based largely on environmental issues and was led by then State Senator Richard Lamm. Lamm was subsequently elected as Colorado governor in 1974.

On April 20, 1999, the Columbine High School massacre occurred at Columbine High School, which is located southwest of Denver in an unincorporated area in suburban Jefferson County; the school has a Littleton address.

The cheeseburger was allegedly invented in Denver by Louis Ballast who operated the Humpty Dumpty Barrel drive-in. He applied for a patent on his now famous invention in 1935. It has been speculated that he wasn’t the first person to add cheese to a hamburger, but nobody has an earlier patent, and no evidence to debunk his claim has emerged.

Denver was an important place for the "beat generation." Beat icon Neal Cassady was raised on Larimer Street in Denver, and a portion of Jack Kerouac's beat masterpiece On the Road takes place in the city, and is based on the beat's actual experiences in Denver during a road trip. Beat poet Allen Ginsberg lived for a time in the Denver suburb of Lakewood, Colorado, and he helped found the Buddhist college, Naropa University or the "Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at Naropa" in nearby Boulder, Colorado.

Denver's vulnerability to economic boom and bust - always a feature of its history - has continued into the new millennium. The bursting of the tech bubble at the turn of the millennium slowed Denver's growth - but it didn't arrest it altogether. Several of Denver's dot-coms were affected by the post-millennium bubble-burst, but relative to other parts of the country the region weathered the storm well, due to the fact that Denver is heavier with established tech companies that with actual dot-com start-ups.


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