Twenty Years of Denver

After more than a dozen industrial banks have their assets frozen, out-of-town owners make fire-sale acquisitions along the Wall Street of the West. They begin the push for branch banking.

The stock market crashes, but Denver's been down so long it looks like up from here.

On the air-quality front, the metro-wide Better Air Campaign begins, and carbon monoxide violations are reduced to 53 days per year, thanks to the introduction of oxygenated fuels. This is the last year Denver air exceeds federal ozone levels.

Times-Mirror sells the Post to Dean Singleton's Media Group, based in Houston. Stapleton opens a new concourse.

A state highway employee accidentally bulldozes a massive boulder onto a bus full of tourists. The Harmonic Convergence of the planets doesn't happen, but the AFL-CIO calls off its decade-long boycott of Coors. After 25 years, the Bonfils Theatre on East Colfax closes.

John Elway loses his first Super Bowl, 39-20 to the New York Giants.

1988: Maybe the Harmonic Convergence is having an effect. It seems the Apocalypse is beckoning:

The lieutenant governor invites Native Americans to eat Thanksgiving dinner in a Mayflower van parked in front of the Capitol. Gary Coleman buys the "Busy Woman's Dream Home" in Highlands Ranch.

When Kraft Foods becomes part of the Philip Morris Companies, healthy herb-tea manufacturer Celestial Seasonings is owned by the nation's most aggressive tobacco company, which, coincidentally, also owns the family-friendly Highlands Ranch, through its Mission Viejo subsidiary.

Continental acquires Frontier, cuts fares and jobs, and loses the Frontier name.

Evergreen's own Gary Hart self-destructs his second presidential bid through unabashed Monkey Business. Some observers say that with press snooping so handsomely rewarded, the era of tabloid/paparazzi tactics has begun.

Colorado votes solidly Republican, as usual, and helps put George Bush in the White House. First son Neil makes his home in Denver. Voters also endorse making English the official language of the state.

Since Denver is prohibited by the Poundstone Amendment from annexing any more territory, voters in Adams County must approve transferring the land east of the Arsenal for the proposed Denver International Airport. The measure passes, and the land held by the Silverado gang becomes the prime development corridor. Silverado still reports a negative net worth of $167 million.

Public Service Company reports a profit of $125 million and closes down its Fort St. Vrain nuclear plant near Platteville.

Philip Anschutz buys the San Francisco-based Southern Pacific Railroad for $1.8 billion, then merges it with the Denver & Rio Grande Western.

For the first time, human immuno-deficiency virus infection makes the list of the fifteen leading causes of death in the state, with AIDS claiming 168 lives.

The Broncos lose the Super Bowl in San Diego, 42-10, to the Washington Redskins.

Then again:
Congress enacts $20,000 in reparation for citizens of Japa-nese descent who were interred in camps, many in Colorado, during WWII, a plan championed by Denver's own Minoru Yasui, head of the Commission on Community Relations from 1967 through 1983.

Voters also endorse the establishment of the metro-wide Scientific and Cultural Facilities District, approving an 0.1 percent sales tax earmarked for the arts and other cultural institutions.

The Denver Post moves to a shiny new office tower at 16th and Broadway, leaving its home of nearly forty years, designed by Temple Buell, standing empty--except, of course, for Truth and Justice, invited to reside within by the motto over the entrance.

Banking commissioner Richard Doby resigns.

1989: With more than 35,000 business failures in two years, Denver leads the nation in bankruptcies.

The feds finally put the stake into the heart of the proposed Two Forks Dam--the first time a massive water project has been stopped. Since 1984, $40 million has been spent on planning and permitting for the dam, which would have flooded Deckers and Buffalo Creek southwest of Denver to provide water for the metro area through the end of the century.

The feds raid Rocky Flats Nuclear Weapons plant.
Denver voters embark on a two-year bond binge, eventually approving more than $1 billion for public works from planting trees and air-conditioning traffic court to developing the infrastructure of the Central Platte Valley. In a special election, they also approve the new airport, six months after federal regulators finally seize Silverado. Airport construction begins in September, with Mayor Pena promising it will provide 20,000 new jobs, be open by May 1993 and cost $1.7 billion. Inaccurate prognostication is the least of the mayor's worries, as reports begin to surface that M.D.C. Holdings coerced illegal contributions for Pena's 1987 campaign from its subcontractors.

Congress approves the savings-and-loan bailout, which eventually costs taxpayers $345 billion. Denver is the regional headquarters of the Resolution Trust Corp., charged with sorting out the mess left by Neil Bush and Co. in thirteen Western states.

Dynasty goes off the air. Tanking economies ain't as glitzy as they used be.
After thirteen years, Saturday midnight screenings of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, complete with costumed cultists, move from the Ogden Theatre on East Colfax to the revamped Esquire on Sixth Avenue. Attendance falls, and Rocky's lights go out two years later. Dammit, Janet.

Professor Tom Cech of the University of Colorado in Boulder shares the Nobel Prize in chemistry with Sidney Altman for their work on RNA. Cech continues to teach freshman general chem classes.

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