Denver – The “Queen of the Prairie” is flat-chested. Denver is as flat as a postage stamp, yet it offers its visitors magnificent views. Because the capital of Colorado sits on a plateau at the foot of the Rocky Mountains.
Denver is a city with a view: from the panoramic terrace under the gilded dome of the Capitol the visitor looks out over 200 snow-capped mountain peaks against a deep blue sky. With its many university graduates, it is now one of the smartest cities in the USA.
The Western shirt with the practical press studs was invented here – and the cheeseburger. Still, Denver doesn’t feed himself a bacon pad. Colorado is considered the thinnest state in the United States. The residents known as “Denverites” are fitness and outdoor fanatics. The foothills are their sports field.
Even the air is thinner here. It’s easy to get out of breath, but better not admit it. Because “Sea Level is for Sissies”, as the stickers on many bumpers make clear – “Sea level is for wimps”. The “Mile High City” rightly bears its name: The 13th step of the Capitol is exactly one mile, 1609 meters, above sea level. In the thin air, golf balls fly ten percent further. And beer can make you go out of your socks a lot faster.
The mayor knows that. Before John Hickenlooper was elected to the town hall in 2003, he founded the local beer brewing scene. Today, the “Lower Downtown”, Denver’s party district, is crowded with around 90 house breweries called “microbreweries”.
The new construction of the baseball stadium started in 1995 the revival of the run-down square of 25 street blocks. Many of the old brick warehouses have now been renovated, chic lofts and galleries, clubs, cafés, and shops have moved in.
The Indians once warned the white immigrants not to settle at the confluence of Cherry Creek and South Platte River. Gold tinsel was discovered there in 1858 and a gold prospector camp was established. No one wanted to listen to the Indians’ warnings, but in the early years they seemed to be right: Denver burned down twice and was flooded once.
Today, cycle paths line Cherry Creek. Artificial rapids bubble up at the height of “Confluence Park” in the Platte River. Kayakers practice Eskimo rolls. The “Millennium Bridge”, a pedestrian bridge suspended from a 60-meter high mast, connects the Riverfront district with the “16th Street Mall”. A false Venetian Campanile bell tower and multi-story office buildings flank Denver’s pedestrian zone with its street cafés, restaurants, and souvenir shops.
Free buses commute along the pedestrian street from the train station to the Capitol. Nearby are the large grey town hall and the art museum. The northern part from the 1970s looks like an old knight’s castle. Even more extravagant, however, is the cultivation in 2006, Daniel Libeskind’s first major work in his home country. Wide, titanium-clad geometric angles are reminiscent of a jagged rock crystal – the latest jewel in the crown of the Prairie Queen.