Twenty Years of Denver

Two years after the breakup of AT&T, Mountain Bell becomes US West and suddenly requires a monthly subsidy to continue upgrading party-line service in rural parts of the state. All customers pony up, courtesy of the PUC.

The average price of a single family home is $96,898.
Philip Anschutz buys the Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad, originally created by Colorado Springs founder William Jackson Palmer. Marvin Davis and Australian Rupert Murdoch buy Metromedia Inc., giving them control of seven television stations across the country. M.D.C. Holdings and Silverado Savings & Loan begin buying up farmland in Adams County near the Rocky Mountain Arsenal. Investors include developer Bill Walters, president of the Greater Denver Chamber of Commerce, and his colleague, Neil Bush, son of the sitting vice president.

Holly Coors, wife of Joseph, chairs the Colorado committee to re-elect Reagan/Bush.

After fourteen happy hippie years in the herb-tea business, Boulder's Mo Siegel sells Celestial Seasonings to mega-corporation Kraft Foods.

Edgar Kaiser sells the Broncos to fellow Canadian Pat Bowlen.
The last piece of the downtown Skyline urban-renewal project, the Tabor Center, opens. With a few notable exceptions--such as Larimer Square, the Daniels & Fisher Tower and the Denver City Cable Railway Building--nearly all the buildings in a 27-block area between Curtis and Larimer from Cherry Creek to 20th Street have been razed during the eighteen-year Denver Urban Renewal Authority project. In their place are now skyscrapers and large-scale spaces including the Denver Performing Arts Complex and Sakura Square.

A team of surgeons at CU Health Sciences Center successfully operates on a fetus in the womb.

1985: Voters ban the use of public funds for abortions in Colorado, the first state to make abortion legal.

Interest rates nationally are the lowest since 1967, at 3.7 percent. Home prices in the Denver area decline for the first time in twenty years--but homeowners are now allowed to shoot intruders dead, under the "Make My Day" law.

Beverly Hills-based American Medical International buys Presbyterian/Saint Luke's Medical Center and Comprecare. Part of the proceeds of the sale of the nonprofit hospitals is used to create the Colorado Trust, a philanthropic health-care foundation whose board consists almost entirely of former P/SL boardmembers. AMI goes on a typical Eighties acquisition-and-expansion spree.

Marvin Davis sells a chunk of 20th Century Fox to Rupert Murdoch for $575 million. Murdoch combines this with his Metromedia holdings to create the Fox Network. Voters turn down a proposed new convention center on Davis's property in the Platte Valley.

Frontier Airlines, like many other Denver corporations, declares bankruptcy.
Jeffrey and Peter Coors, grandsons of founder Adolph, take over the brewing company and expand distribution to 44 states, despite the enduring boycott.

Thirty years after its invention, the Denver Boot, the state's second-most famous product after Coors beer (but lots less popular), is locked onto approximately 7,000 cars per year, producing $1.3 million in fines and removal fees.

The technological evolution of snowboards--the metal edges are fused--prompts Breckenridge to allow snowboarders on the same slopes as skiers. Snowboarding is legal at only 7 percent of the nation's ski areas.

1986: Oil sells for $9 per barrel. The boom hits bottom.
For the first time since 1950, more people moved out of Colorado--about 65,000--than moved in. Last one out, turn off the lights, please.

Samaritan House opens, serving 778,000 meals to the homeless in its first year. After three terms, Dick Lamm does not run for governor. Fellow Democrat Roy Romer is elected; the state legislature stays solidly Republican. Democrat Tim Wirth moves from the House to the U.S. Senate.

Dana Crawford sells her Larimer Square holdings to concentrate on downtown residential projects.

Raymond Burr comes to town to film his Perry Mason movies, inspiring a rash of courtroom renovations.

Stapleton has a new slogan: "It's our airport. And it's important to all of us." It's the world's fifth-busiest airport, with 34.7 million passengers per year. Frank Lorenzo's Texas International Airlines acquires Continental in the industry's first hostile takeover. This is the beginning of four years of fare- and job-slashing, asset stripping, engulfing and devouring in the airline industry.

Breckenridge builds the state's first snowboarding half-pipe and hosts the World Championships of Snowboarding, an event stolen from California. Righteous.

1987: Douglas County's population is 50,000, but it's zoned for 500,000. Eleven percent of all homes sold in the metro area (682) are in Highlands Ranch.

Anybody want a HUD home? With homeowners defaulting on mortgages at record rates, there are plenty available. Even Marvin Davis gets only a measly million or so for his Cherry Hills mansion when he moves to Beverly Hills. The Carousel Ball is canceled.

Downtown office vacancies top 30 percent; unemployment is over 7 percent. The parent company of May D&F acquires the Denver and promptly closes the downtown store. Blinder Robinson is the tenth-largest brokerage firm in the U.S. in terms of number of brokers employed. Petro-Lewis is liquidated to the bare walls for $770 million.

Federico Pena is re-elected with the help of major campaign contributions from M.D.C. Holdings, the last big developer working in the struggling Denver economy. The company is kept afloat by junk bond sales and loans from Silverado. M.D.C. chairman Larry Mizel and Silverado's Michael Wise also host million-dollar fundraisers for the Reagan and Bush campaigns.

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