Just in time for the holiday crush, Denver International Airport has a new attraction — and no, it's not the bathroom where Idaho senator Larry Craig reportedly issued another one of his wide-stance invitations ("Stalled," December 6). This attraction encourages travelers to join another mile-high club altogether, by having their picture taken in front of a large photo looking west to the mountains from the Denver Museum of Nature & Science — a spot that, unlike DIA itself, really is at 5,280 feet.
Inspired by photo opportunities at other airports — Nashville, for example, sports a spot where you can have your picture taken alongside country-music stars — this fall DIA installed the vista, complete with the "Welcome to the Mile High City" slogan, by one of DIA's information booths. And while technically this location isn't a mile high, it promotes that eminently identifiable slogan that boosters have been smart enough to keep, even if they occasionally grouse that visitors wonder why, at this altitude, Denver isn't surrounded by mountains, or lament those comics who snicker over this town's affinity for pro-marijuana measures.
And for those who want geographically accurate souvenirs, there are options. The outside of the Capitol has not one, not two, but three markers commemorating the altitude: the words "One Mile Above Sea Level," which were carved into the fifteenth step in 1947, after thieves made off with a plaque that said the same thing; a revisionist marker installed on the eighteenth step in 1969; and a revised revisionist marker put on the thirteenth step in 2003, as Denver settled down. So far, there's been no move to re-measure the row of purple seats installed at Coors Field back in 1995, although this fall's World Series bid surely elevated things there for a time.
And the city also plans to create a Mile High Trail in City Park. For now, though, that trail consists of a nail in a tree on the west lawn of the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, marking a point 5,280 feet above sea level. Less accessible, but more elegant, is the purple line that Mayor John Hickenlooper, a geologist in a former life, had painted at a point that's exactly a mile high — and about a foot beneath the ceiling of his office on the third floor of the Denver City and County Building.
You can come up with your own mile-high trail by studying Denver on www.earthtools.org. The Mile High Club locations we've managed to pinpoint: Gaetano's, at 38th and Tejon; the Denver Pavilions; the Bonfils Theatre in the Denver Performing Arts Complex — and the Westword office, at 969 Broadway.
No pictures, please.
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