Denver, Colorado

The Mile-High City is nestled below the Rocky Mountains. Denver is a vibrant metropolitan city with a thriving business community, performing arts and sports. Colorado’s state capital is typically ranked among the top five U.S. cites for its livability and quality of life.

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1 Brief Introduction to Denver, Colorado

Montana City was founded in 1858 during the Pike’s Peak Gold Rush. It was soon renamed in honor of James W. Denver, then the Governor of the Kansas Territory. Three years later, the Colorado Territory was formed and Denver City was incorporated. The word “City” was dropped in 1867. Since those early mining days, Denver’s metro population has grown to 2.8 million. This accounts for over half of the state’s residents and makes it the 19th largest in the U. S. In the center of this downtown cityscape is the golden dome of the Colorado State Capital. Enjoy exploring the Mile-High City.

1400 Welton St, Denver, CO 80202
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2 Colorado State Capitol Building in Denver, Colorado

The impressive ribbed dome of the Colorado State Capitol in Denver is plated with 200 ounces of gold in honor of the Pike’s Peak Gold Rush from 1858 – 1861. Denver’s nickname as the mile-high city is commemorated by three markers on the 1894 capitol’s steps because the first two measurements of 5,280 feet were incorrect. Colorado became the 38th state on August 1, 1876.

200 E Colfax Ave, Denver, CO 80203
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3 Colorado State Capitol Building Rotunda in Denver, Colorado

Colorado State Capitol Building Rotunda in Denver, Colorado
Two types of marble grace the walls and floors of the impressive Colorado State Capitol in Denver. They are a rare Rose Onyx and Yule Marble. It took six years to install. When construction was done in 1894, the world’s supply of the Beulah Red Marble was depleted. The rotunda resembles a courtyard with the column-supported balconies and plenty of brass and stained glass. There is also a portrait of each U.S. president around the building.

200 E Colfax Ave, Denver, CO 80203
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4 Denver City and County Building in Denver, Colorado

Flanking the west end of the Civic Center is the City and County Building. Architect Edward Bennett conceived the Beaux-Arts Neoclassical design in 1917. The lavish government building was not completed until 1932. In the center of the concave wings and at the top of the steps is a granite portico supported by a dozen Corinthian columns. The 51-foot clock tower is capped with a golden eagle.

1437 Bannock St, Denver, CO 80202
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5 Downtown Skyline from Civic Center Park in Denver, Colorado

In the foreground is Civic Center Park. This large public greenspace hosts community events all year. Many of them occur around the Greek Amphitheater in the corner. Anchoring the park are the Capitol Building and the City and County Building. Defining the downtown skyline on the left is the Republic Plaza. At 714 feet, this is the biggest skyscraper in the Rocky Mountains Region. The city’s third tallest building on the right is the Wells Fargo Center. The locals call this 698-foot high-rise “The Cash Register.”

101 W. 14th Ave., Denver, CO 80202
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6 Former Denver Carnegie Library in Denver, Colorado

This impressive colonnade of three-story, Ionic columns was the first structure built in Denver’s Civic Center in 1909. Architect Albert Ross created this Greek Revival design for the Denver Carnegie Library. It is one of the grandest of the 2,509 libraries that the Carnegie Steel Company founder and philanthropist helped fund across the United States from 1883 until 1929. This historic structure – sometimes called the “Old Main” – is now the McNichols Civic Center Building.

144 W Colfax Ave, Denver, CO 80202
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7 Little Girl Spreads Lips to Show Teeth at Chalk Art Festival in Denver, Colorado

During one weekend each summer, the streets of Larimer Square in Denver, Colorado, became a canvas for talented artists during the annual Chalk Art Festival. Onlookers crowd around the sidewalks to watch as the colorful art comes alive with one piece of chalk at a time. This mural was in progress at the time of the photo. The completed illustration by artist Naomi Haverland went on to win “Best Use of Color” in 2012. Her sponsor was Frank’s Greenhouse.

1430 Larimer St, Denver, CO 80202
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8 Molly Brown House in Denver, Colorado

Margaret Brown was a philanthropist in Denver and helped raise funds for noteworthy projects such as building the Cathedral of Immaculate Conception. She is best known for surviving the fateful voyage of the RMS Titanic in 1912. Thereafter, she became “The Unsinkable Molly Brown.” That was also the title of a Broadway musical and movie. She was portrayed by Kathy Bates in the 1997 film, “Titanic.” Maggie lived in this home – also called the House of Lions – on Pennsylvania Street with her husband James (known as J. J.) from 1894 until he moved out in 1909. Today, the restored Queen Anne property is a museum managed by Historic Denver, Inc.

1340 Pennsylvania St, Denver, CO 80203
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9 Denver Central Library in Denver, Colorado

The two distinct construction phases of the Denver Central Library create an architectural contrast within the Civic Center Cultural Complex of the Golden Triangle neighborhood. The building on the left was called the Fisher/Hoyt Central Library when it opened in 1956. The design by Burnham Hoyt is now listed by the U. S. National Register of Historic Places. The salmon-colored addition was drawn by architect Michael Graves and was finished in 1995. Denver’s library system began in 1889.

10 W 14th Ave Pkwy, Denver, CO 80204
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10 Big Chair with Horse Donald Lipski in Denver, Colorado

It is easy to guess the title of this public art: Big Chair with Horse. What is perplexing is what it means and why it was created. Artist Donald Lipski said he wanted nothing more than to amaze and entertain children. The red chair is 21 feet high by ten feet wide. The horse standing on the seat appears small. However, it is about six feet tall. Originally named “The Yearling,” this oddity has been located near the Central Public Library since 1998.

32-, 98 W 14th Ave, Denver, CO 80202
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11 Denver Art Museum Hamilton Building in Denver, Colorado

The Denver Artists Club began in 1893 and became the Denver Art Museum in 1919. The collection has grown to over 70,000 pieces plus temporary exhibitions. The DAM’s showcase for contemporary art is the Fredric C. Hamilton Building. Its namesake was an oil company founder, a former chairman of the museum and a philanthropist who helped raise funds for this 2006 addition. The dramatic, cantilevered wing reaching into the sky was designed by Daniel Libeskind. This titanium feature symbolizes the peaks of the Rocky Mountains defining Denver’s landscape. In the foreground is the Ducan Pavilion and Martin Plaza.

100 W 14th Ave Pkwy, Denver, CO 80204
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12 Shoot-Out Sculpture by Red Grooms in Denver, Colorado

Charles Rogers Grooms, better known as “Red,” created this playful aluminum sculpture of a cowboy and a Plains Indian in a face-off exchanging bullets and arrows. The pop art was installed on a balcony of the Duncan Pavilion at the Denver Art Museum in 1982. Red calls his technique of creating colorful, cartoonish figures “sculpto-pictoramas.”

100 W 14th Ave Pkwy, Denver, CO 80204
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13 Big Sweep Sculpture by Claes Oldenburg in Denver, Colorado

Claes Oldenburg is a Swedish-born pop artist. His signature is creating huge sculptures of commonplace objects. My favorites are the Free Rubber Stamp (Cleveland, Ohio), the Typewriter Eraser (Washington, D. C) and the Spoonbridge and Cherry (Minneapolis, Minnesota). His fans will quickly recognize and smile at this whimsical, “Big Sweep.” The dustpan stands 31 feet in front of the Denver Art Museum’s Fredrick C. Hamilton Building. The artwork was produced in conjunction with his wife, Cossje van Bruggen,

100 W 14th Ave Pkwy, Denver, CO 80204
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14 Denver Art Museum North Building in Denver, Colorado

From a distance, this structure resembles a castle. Denver seems like a curious place for a 24-sided fortress. This North Building of the Denver Art Museum was created by Italian architect Giovanni Ponti. Most of Gio’s designs from the start of his career in the 1920s had a modernistic flair. This seven-story structure – his only U. S. building – was a delightful departure from his norm. When it opened in 1971, the North Building’s 210,000 square feet of space could exhibit all of the Denver Art Museum’s collection.

100 W 14th Ave Pkwy, Denver, CO 80204
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15 Respite While Touring Denver Civic Center in Denver, Colorado

Touring museums, admiring the historic and modern architecture plus gazing at the public art around the Denver Civic Center can be tiring. The best advice is to allocate two days or more. Find a city map so you can stay orientated and explore as many attractions as possible. The blue-glass curtainwall building is Security Life Center. This 17-floor, 215-foot commercial structure was built in 1986.

E 13th Ave, Denver, CO 80203
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16 History Colorado Center in Denver, Colorado

The History Colorado society was founded in 1879. Their mission is to preserve the state’s artifacts plus display its western and geological past. The Colorado Historical Society opened the Colorado History Museum in 1976. That building was torn down and replaced in 2012 with this History Colorado Center. It is located on Broadway in the Golden Triangle Museum District. People of all ages are entertained and educated by the museum’s six extensive and interactive exhibitions.

1200 N Broadway, Denver, CO 80203
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17 Big Blue Bear Sculpture Peering into Convention Center in Denver, Colorado

“I See What You Mean” is the name of this 40 foot blue bear peeking through the window into the lobby of the Denver Convention Center in Colorado. After the steel and fiberglass structure by Lawrence Argent was installed in 2005, it quickly became iconic. This unique artwork is guaranteed to make you smile if not outright laugh.

700 14th St, Denver, CO 80202
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18 Teddy Roosevelt and Jack Dempsey Mural in Denver, Colorado

Bubba Gump Shrimp Company sponsored this wall mural in 2008 of an equestrian Teddy Roosevelt behind an American flag and beside Jack Dempsey in his iconic boxing pose. The street art is in a parking lot near the Denver Convention Center in Colorado. Across the legs of the World Heavyweight Champion from 1919 to 1926 is, “The Manassa Mauler.” This is a reference to his birthplace in Manassa, Colorado. It also recalls “The Fight of the Century” against Georges Carpentier in 1921. This famous bout generated the first one million dollar gate in boxing history. By the way, the delivery truck is real and not part of the artwork.

1437 California St, Denver, CO 80202
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19 Denver Performing Arts Complex in Denver, Colorado

This 80-foot tall, glass archway bridges some buildings in the Denver Performing Arts Complex. The four-block campus contains ten entertainment centers including the Boettcher Concert Hall, Ellie Caulkins Opera House, the Donald R. Seawell Grand Ballroom plus seven theaters. It is also the home to Colorado resident companies for opera, symphony and ballet. Collectively, the DPAC is the country’s largest performing arts center.

1400 Curtis Street, Denver, CO 80204
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20 Ellie Caulkins Opera House in Denver, Colorado

These doors were part of the Municipal Auditorium when it opened in 1908. Its first event was hosting the Democratic National Convention. For decades, this venue staged countless shows ranging from theater, concerts and sporting events. The building underwent three major renovations in the mid-1950s, early 1990s and the last time in 2005. Then it became the 2,200 seat Ellie Caulkins Opera House. This name is a tribute to a major benefactor and “Denver’s First Lady of Opera.”

1385 Curtis Street, Denver, CO 80204
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21 Dancers Sculpture Jonathan Borofsky in Denver, Colorado

It seems logical you would find dancers around the Denver Performing Arts Complex. What is unexpected is to see this abstract public art. This couple holding hands is 60 feet tall. The 25 ton, fiberglass duo by Jonathan Borofsky was installed in the Sculpture Park on Speer Boulevard in 2003. Unbelievably, these alien-like figures cost over $1.5 million. The song “Let Dance” is heard continuously. The music was recorded by the same artist.

1736 Speer Blvd, Denver, CO 80204
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22 Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Denver, Colorado

Denver’s first Catholic church was built in 1860 and was called St. Mary’s Parish Church. The city’s first cathedral – Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception – was finished in 1911. Architect Leon Coquard is responsible for the church’s French Gothic design and twin bell towers. The façade is a combination of Indiana limestone and Colorado granite. This mother church of the Archdiocese of Denver is listed by the U. S. National Register of Historic Places.

1530 Logan St, Denver, CO 80203
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23 Station of Cross at Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Colorado, Denver

In the Capitol Hill district of Denver is the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception. In 1993, Pope John II delivered Mass in this century-old, Roman Catholic church. The outside is French Gothic style with two, 210 foot spires. Inside, 75 stained-glass windows bathe the Stations of the Cross with beautiful light. This is the ninth sculpture depicting when Jesus falls for the third time.

1530 Logan St, Denver, CO 80203
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24 Central Presbyterian Church in Denver, Colorado

Denver’s Presbyterian community was founded by Reverend A. T Rankin in 1860. Their first humble church was replaced by a second one sixteen years later. Because the roof was financed by gamblers, it had a pattern of red triangles resembling a playing card. It was nicknamed the “Church of the Seven Spot Diamonds.” During its history, Central Presbyterian Church was instrumental in serving immigrants and founded the Presbyterian Hospital. This landmark church is designed in a Richardsonian Revival style and listed by the U. S National Register of Historic Places.

1660 Sherman St, Denver, CO 80203
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25 Colorado State Museum Building in Denver, Colorado

The Colorado Historical Society has been in several structures since it was established by Dr. Frederick Bancroft in 1879. Their newest facility is shown elsewhere in this gallery. From 1915 until 1976, the history museum’s exhibits were in this Colorado State Museum Building.

200 E 14th Ave, Denver, CO 80203
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26 Daniels & Fisher Tower in Denver, Colorado

The Daniels & Fisher Tower was the pinnacle pride of a department store of the same name when it was built in 1911. Architect Frederick Sterner patterned his design after St. Mark’s Campanile in Venice, Italy. The store was torn down in 1971. However, this elegant, four-face clock tower was spared and is listed by the U. S. National Register of Historic Places. You will see this landmark as you stroll along the 16th Street Mall. This pedestrian-only shopping mecca is lined with retailers, restaurants, cafes and bars. Of course, it is one-mile long.

1601 Arapahoe St, Denver, CO 80202
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27 Blue Steer from CowParade Event in Denver, Colorado

This blue steer with the likeness of Clint Eastwood from the movie, “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” was installed at the 16th Street Mall during a CowParade event. The concept of painting, displaying and then auctioning off fiberglass cow sculptures began in Switzerland in 1998. Several U. S. cities have hosted the fundraising exhibition. This bovine boasts of Denver’s unique attributes. The Mile-High City also displays two other giant blue animals: a bear called “I See What you Mean” (shown in this gallery) and a horse named “Blue Mustang.”

1001 16th St, Denver, CO 80265
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28 Denver Place North Tower in Denver, Colorado

This is the Denver Palace North Tower. The high-rise is part of a downtown office complex built in 1981 consisting of four buildings. Its hexagonal shape has 23 stories and reaches 285 feet. The taller yet otherwise similar looking sibling is the South Tower. It stands 416 feet with 34 levels.

999 18th Street, Denver, CO 80202
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29 Man Smoking Cigarette Mural Resembles Old James Dean in Denver, Colorado

Look at James Dean photos from the early 1950s and you will usually see his rebellious good looks and waving hair with a cigarette dangling from his lip. Now imagine if he had not died in a car crash at 24 but had become middle-aged. He might have looked like this black and white wall mural in downtown Denver, Colorado. Unfortunately, like the legend, this mural is also gone forever.

314 E 13th Ave, Denver, CO 80203
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30 Republic Plaza in Denver, Colorado

You will strain your neck looking up at Colorado’s tallest building. The Republic Plaza opened in 1984. The skyscraper’s 56 floors contain 1.2 million square feet of commercial office space. On the lower levels surrounding a three-story marble lobby are shops, restaurants plus The Commons, a fitness and conference center.

370 17th St., Denver, CO 80202
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31 Denver City Cable Railway Chimney and 1800 Larimer Office Tower in Denver, Colorado

In 1889, the first electronic street railway was introduced in Colorado by Denver Tramway. Their main competitor, The Denver City Cable Railway, built a cable car power plant with its iconic chimney the same year. However, their old technology was no match and they went bankrupt within a few years. Behind it is the 22 story 1800 Larimer Office Tower, one of Denver’s newest high-rise buildings. It opened in 2010 and houses Xcel Energy.

1800 Larimer St, Denver, CO 80202
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32 Denver World Trade Center in Denver, Colorado

These are the twin towers comprising the Denver World Trade Center. This partnership of organizations led by the Metropolitan State College Foundation was established in 1987. The goal was to attract global businesses and country consulates. Their success of securing over 250 corporate members led to building Trade Center I in 1979 and its glass-façade sibling three years later. They stand 325 and 359 feet respectively.

1625 Broadway, Denver, CO 80202
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33 Denver United States Mint in Denver, Colorado

During the mid-19th century Colorado Gold Rush, a private mint opened in Denver to convert prospectors’ gold dust into Pikes Peak Gold coins. In 1862, the U.S. Government purchased Clark & Company and transformed their operations into the Denver Mint. In 1897, the plant was replaced with the existing one on West Colfax Avenue. It is fun to tour the world’s oldest and largest producer of coins.

320 W. Colfax Ave., Denver, CO 80204
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34 Wellington Webb Municipal Office Building in Denver, Colorado

When the Wellington Webb Municipal Office Building was finished in 2002, it became the consolidated home for 50 city agencies and departments. The twelve-story granite and limestone façade is convex shaped. In the plaza is a unique sculpture by Larry Kirkland named East 2 West Source Point. See the next photo for a close up.

201 W Colfax Ave, Denver, CO 80202
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35 East 2 West Source Point Half Face Statue by Larry Kirkland in Denver, Colorado

In 2003, Larry Kirkland created this unique, Carrara marble statue. The half face is called, “East 2 West Source Point.” The art is located outside of the Wellington Webb Municipal Office Building in Denver, Colorado. In the center of the two half faces (only one shown) is a golden plumb line. Surrounding it are historical maps of Denver. The sculpture represents the Greek god Janus, whose two faces looked towards the future and past. The month of January was named in his honor.

201 W Colfax Ave, Denver, CO 80202
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36 Denver Union Station in Denver, Colorado

When it opened in 1881, the Denver Union Station’s name reflected its consolidation of four terminals serving Denver. After a fire destroyed the station in 1894, it was rebuilt in a Romanesque Revival style. The depot underwent another upgrade in 1914, giving it a Beau-Arts facelift. The bright orange “Travel by Train” sign was added in 1958 to try to compete with growing air traffic. The historic Union Station is now an inter-modal facility for Amtrak trains, light rail and buses plus houses a hotel, shops and restaurants.

1701 Wynkoop Street, Denver, CO 80202
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37 William Lang Townhouse in Denver, Colorado

This sandstone residence was designed by famous architect William Lang starting in 1890. One of the best features of this home listed by the U. S. National Register of Historic Places is the sign in the window. It reads in part, “Problem solver. Technical consultations ½ hour 25₵. All projects cash in advance.” You can see his Townhouse on Washington Street. During his short career, he favored a combination of Victorian and Richardsonian Romanesque styles while designing over 200 mansions in Denver including the Molly Brown House.

1626 Washington St., Denver, CO 80203
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Denver, Colorado Composite of Three Photos

Three photos of Denver, Colorado are: Big Blue Bear sculpture peering into the Convention Center called “I See What you Mean” by artist Lawrence Argent; Portrait of a woman from the annual Chalk Art Festival on Larimer Square; and The Denver skyline. Part of this cityscape includes the Republic Plaza in the center. This skyscraper is currently Denver’s tallest at 728 feet.

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