Denver, Colorado

Encyclopedia Article


The "mile-high" capital and largest city in Colorado, Denver is located at the western end of the Great Plains, just east of the Rocky Mountains. Arapaho peoples inhabited the area until 1858, when the gold rush brought white settlers to the junction of Cherry Creek and the South Platte River, where the site of the future city was established. Denver was named after James W. Denver, the Kansas territorial governor at the time. In the 1860s, uprisings by Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes provoked the forced removal of Native Americans from the state of Colorado. The city's settler population grew steadily after the arrival of the railroad in the 1880s, with gold and silver mining, as well as farming and ranching, sustaining its economy.

Denver saw a few economic booms in the second half of the 20th century, with the development of the Cold War military industry in the 1950s, oil production in the 1970s, and tourism in the 1990s. Today, the city is a hub of high-tech industry and commerce. Its scenery, proximity to mountain parks and ski resorts, and relatively mild climate attract many tourists and outdoors enthusiasts.

Photo Credit: 

"Drone image of downtown Denver with the Rocky Mountains in the background, November 9, 2014" by Heath Alseike is licensed under CC BY.