Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Denver: The Mile High City

Denver sits one mile above sea level as measured against the level of the Gulf of Mexico. This explains why Denver is called the Mile High City. It is the capital of Colorado and also its largest metropolitan area. Surrounded by the Rocky Mountains, Denver is America's 23rd most populous city.

The steps to the capital show where surveyors in the late 1800s determined the city to be 5,280 feet above sea level (one mile).

As Colorado's capital city, Denver contains the seat of the state government, which meets in the capitol building for several months each year. The capitol is currently undergoing renovations, and you can see the scaffolding along the left side of the photograph. Covered in gold, the capitol dome is reminiscent of the dome of our nation's capitol in Washington, D.C. [Note: When capital is spelled with an "al" at the end, it refers to the city. When there's an "ol" at the end, it refers to the building.]

The fittest state in the Union, Denver emphasizes being green, that is, working hard to take care of the environment. You can traverse the entire city on bicycle paths, and you can even borrow a bike for free for thirty minutes from several bike stations scattered throughout the city. After the first thirty minutes, you must pay a rental fee. Using bicycles helps you stay fit while also not polluting the environment.
The people of Denver love the outdoors, and while I was there the temperature was in the 90s. This has been the hottest summer on record across America and Denver has had more continuous days above 90 degrees than in recorded history.

A Taste of Colorado
For more than thirty years, Denver has held a huge street festival called "A Taste of Colorado". It is a is a  four-day music and entertainment celebration held each year during Labor Day weekend. The festival features more than 50 food booths, about 300 vendors and artisans, six entertainment stages with live shows, and educational programs that promote both the diverse culture and western heritage of the Denver area.
Denver's Union Station
The railroads had a huge impact on the settlement and growth of the West. Originally built in the late 1800s, at one time Union Station served as the railroad hub of Denver with more than 80 trains coming and going each day. When people made the shift from trains to cars, the old station fell out of use. Currently, under renovation, Union Station soon will be utilized as a light rail hub.

While in Denver, I ate at a restaurant well known for its entertainment and food. In the photograph below, you can see the dessert of fried ice cream that I was served. Below the image of the fried ice cream, you will find a short video illustrating one example of the restaurant's entertainment. Inside is a 35' cliff with a 14' deep pool below. Every fifteen minutes while I was there, someone dived from the cliff.

This was the first time I ever ate fried ice cream. It was delicious.

Built in the late 1800s and now spanning three centuries, another restaurant in Denver is well known for its exotic menu. Featured menu items include elk, buffalo, quail, Cornish game hens and even yak and ostrich when they are available. The building has its original tin ceiling and is reminiscent of the old west. In the photograph below you can see the unusual decor.

Finally, a trip to Denver would not be complete without a visit to Hammond's Candies, one of the few remaining candy companies that creates and packages everything by hand. The 120 employees make 2,000 - 3,000 pounds of candy each day and 2,500,00 candy canes each year ... all by hand ... 70 pounds at a time. Visit this website and scroll down to watch a video, A Mile High Highlight!, illustrating candy making in progress: You can purchase Hammond's candy at many retail outlets across the USA.

All in all, Denver is a clean city with much to offer visitors. It has more public parks than any city in America. And not far out of town the great outdoors awaits.

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