Let Us Eat Cake

History is never very tidy.

Technically, we could have celebrated Denver’s 150th anniversary on September 24, the day in 1858 when William McGaa and other min-ers founded St. Charles on the northeast side of Cherry Creek. Or on November 1, when William Russell founded a competing settlement, Auraria, on the southwest side of Cherry Creek. Or on November 17, when William Larimer and his crew jumped the St. Charles site — and McGaa had to calm down the hostilities by pouring whiskey into everyone. His efforts were rewarded on November 22, when the Larimer party officially established the Denver City Town Company on what had been St. Charles and named a street after McGaa.

Which is why we’re celebrating Denver’s 150th anniversary today. Not with whiskey or even street names (McGaa’s honor didn’t last; his namesake became Market), but a party that promises free birthday cake and free admission at a variety of cultural facilities. The real action, though, will be at the Colorado History Museum, 1300 Broadway, where at 9:45 a.m., Mayor John Hickenlooper will cut the ribbon for Imagine a Great City: Denver at 150, a new exhibit celebrating the city’s history. The party will continue through the day with live music, book signings and craft and fashion demonstrations. For the complete 150th birthday celebration schedule, visit www.Denver150.com; for more on the museum, go to www.coloradohistory.org.

But even that website won’t give you this history of the Imagine a Great City slogan: It was created for Federico Peña’s dark-horse run for mayor in 1983 by my two original partners at Westword: Rob Simon and Sandy Widener. We’ve never been quite sure which one should get the ultimate credit — but then, history is never very tidy.
Fri., Nov. 14, 5-10 p.m.; Sat., Nov. 22, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., 2008

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Patricia Calhoun co-founded Westword in 1977; she’s been the editor ever since. She’s a regular on the weekly CPT12 roundtable Colorado Inside Out, played a real journalist in John Sayles’s Silver City, once interviewed President Bill Clinton while wearing flip-flops, and has been honored with numerous national awards for her columns and feature-writing.
Contact: Patricia Calhoun

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