Twenty Years of Denver

Colorado's bid for the 1998 Winter Olympics is rejected; Nagano, Japan, gets the nod. The Olympic Committee has a long memory, it seems.

Despite a decade of vigorous fundraising efforts, the Denver Symphony finally dissolves. Musicians band together to form the Colorado Symphony, which plays on.

The Rocky Mountain Arsenal becomes a wildlife sanctuary, minus the underground-dwelling prairie dogs that might get into the buried toxic wastes.

Coach Bill McCartney of the University of Colorado football Buffaloes and others take extreme umbrage at a Westword article detailing publicly for the first time his familial dysfunction. Westword's new office is directly across from the Wynkoop Brewing Co., the state's first brewpub making and serving its own beer on the premises.

1990: The rest of the country, then the world, sinks into recession, just as Colorado turns the economic corner.

The metro population is 1,842,319--a 12 percent increase over ten years despite the oil bust and other disasters. While this represents half of the entire state's population, Denver County loses another 24,755 residents to the 'burbs. Dick Lamm's nemesis, C-470, is opened by Governor Roy Romer aboard a snowplow and speeds the population drain. Wells in Douglas County begin to go dry.

Single women outnumber single men throughout the state, by 15,978 in Denver County alone, although census figures also show 1,200 more married men than married women in the city.

A sudden afternoon hailstorm shatters windows, batters cars, smashes traffic lights and shreds gardens along the Front Range to become the tenth most costly natural disaster on record to date, doing $450 million worth of damage to insured property.

After 25 years of ensnaring rush-hour motorists, The Mousetrap at the intersection of I-25 and I-70 is torn down.

Jet fuel prices increase, putting the squeeze on low-fare carriers like Continental. Traffic at Stapleton drops to 27.4 million, the lowest since 1984. Frank Lorenzo gets the ax but drifts gently to earth on a multi-million-dollar golden parachute.

Penny-stock king Meyer Blinder and others are indicted for an alleged stock swindle and international money-laundering scheme.

Southern Pacific loses $35 million. M.D.C. Holdings' 1986 junk bonds are worth 30 cents on the dollar.

Denver City Council gives Andy Schlenker, son of the owner of the Denver Nuggets, $3 million to stage the Denver Grand Prix, sending Formula One race cars at high speeds around Civic Center for two days in August--and closing off the Capitol, library, City and County Building and art museum to citizens for a week before Labor Day and the traditional Taste of Colorado bash. This happens twice before the Schlenkers depart for the deeper pockets of Memphis.

In a special election, voters approve the metro stadium district to raise money to build a baseball-only stadium, should Denver be awarded one of the two expansion teams planned by Major League Baseball. Local high-rollers are reluctant to get on board with the ownership group, so two carpetbaggers from Youngstown, Ohio, step up to the plate. The Coors family comes in for a meager 7 percent, with naming rights. Heck, fans in the Time Zone Without a Team are desperate.

The Colorado Convention Center opens next to Currigan Hall. The abandoned Post building and a block of parking garages and empty storefronts separates it from the 16th Street Mall. Plans are still afoot to get a 1,000-room hotel built nearby.

The Central Bank Building at 15th and Arapahoe is demolished for a parking lot.

Local investors buy Presbyterian/Saint Luke's back from AMI, using $60 million from the Colorado Trust. They vow to return the hospitals to nonprofit status.

Cherry Creek Shopping Center--don't call it a mall!--opens with upscale shopping previously unheard of in Denver, including Lord & Taylor.

Limited stakes gaming--don't call it gambling!--is approved by Colorado voters and soon invades Central City, Black Hawk and Cripple Creek in the name of historic preservation. Yeah, right.

The Broncos--don't call them Donkeys!--lose their fourth Super Bowl, by the biggest margin in the history of the contest, 55-10 to the San Francisco 49ers. SF QB Joe Montana is named MVP.

1991: Wellington Webb puts on his sneakers and walks the Denver neighborhoods to become Denver's first black mayor, beating district attorney and early favorite Norm Early (who relies on Yaphet Kotto for campaign strategy).

The Gulf War concludes after six months, but the regime of Saddam Hussein lives on.

Southern Pacific loses $78 million. Ross Perot's EDS gets $2.1 billion in jobs from Continental, before the airline takes Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Kraft General Foods sells Celestial Seasonings back to its original management, and the planets realign correctly.

Judith Albino is named to replace CU chancellor Gordon Gee, who takes his bow tie with him to Ohio State. She is the first woman to hold the university's top job, and the sniping by both faculty and regents begins almost immediately. Former Miss America Marilyn Van Derbur Atler goes public with her tale of incest.

On Father's Day, four employees are shot dead in the United Bank vault at 17th and Broadway. Ex-Denver cop James King is tried, but not convicted, thanks to the efforts of his attorney Walter Gerash; the money taken in the robbery is never recovered.

Big Head Todd and the Monsters go national, with a mighty shove from Westword.

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