Denver's 150th birthday is turning out to be a bust, with the financial crisis the major party pooper.
Civic leaders have been brainstorming how to keep Colorado's economy from falling any further. Yesterday, they gathered with Mayor John Hickenlooper and Governor Bill Ritter at the Denver City & County Building to outline the plan, which jump-starts the timeline on a billion dollars' worth of public projects, approved by voters in November 2007 (that $550 million alphabet soup of Denver infrastructure jobs) and last month (the $454 million Denver Public Schools bond measure). And boosters will continue meeting over the next few months, to consider other ideas.
This isn't the first time boosters have banded together to bail out the city. Denver wasn't even ten years old when it found itself in danger of disappearing altogether, snubbed by the railroads in favor of Cheyenne. Denver was "too dead to bury" -- pronounced a Union Pacific veep. So in 1867, a group of business leaders formed the Denver Pacific Railway and Telegraph Company with the intent of building a railroad that would link the young city to the rest of the country's transportation network.
The first train chugged into town from Cheyenne in 1870, and over the next few years, Denver's status as the hub of the Rocky Mountain West was established.
Keeping the Colorado economy on track this time won't be as easy, because it's part of a very troubled global economy. But as those civic leaders point out, as bad as things look here, Denver's better off than many, many other places (the moving vans are loading up in Detroit right now), and our geographic isolation will help keep Colorado money moving -- around the state.
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As Hickenlooper proclaims in his echo of an old Dick Lamm saying, "We all have a duty to buy." Right here. Right now. -- Patricia Calhoun