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Are the Denver dailies' 150th birthday sections keepers?

An image from the Rocky Mountain News' online version of its Denver@150 section.
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Today, the Rocky Mountain News and the Denver Post feature special sections honoring Denver's 150th birthday -- and they're not merely clones of each other. Indeed, both have qualities that recommend them, with the Rocky's concept proving livelier and more substantial and the Post's pages turning out better from a visual standpoint.

The Rocky's content, much of which can be found here, is mainly penned by contributor Bill Gallo, who spent more than fifteen years working at Westword. The centerpiece is a section spotlighting "People Who Care: 150 Who Make Denver a Better Place to Live" -- a fairly dorky notion at first blush, but Gallo makes the mini-profiles breezy and readable. Better yet, he frames this material with sidebars about "founders" (he even finds a way to work in Golda Meir), "industrialists" (Phil Anschutz is the only one still drawing breath), writers (predictably, Gene Amole gets a shout-out), plus "disasters," "inspirational women," "events," "villains," "heroes," "entrepreneurs," "actors," "musicians" and even "saints." This last category somehow juxtaposes Mother Cabrini and Daddy Bruce Randolph Sr. -- but who would quibble with that?

The Post makes its special section, "Denver: 150 and Counting," difficult to find on its website. Indeed, I enventually had to search via Google to find "The First Claim Jump," a piece by Dick Kreck that includes links to other offerings. Kreck, a veteran of the paper who took a buyout not too terribly long ago, joins staffers such as Karen Auge and Michael Booth, who contribute a series of essays on assorted topics: Denver's boom-and-bust past and transportation issues, for instance. The writing is perfectly fine, but the focus of many of those not penned by Kreck on today and tomorrow, as opposed to yesterday, lessens their nostalgic impact. Moreover, an article entitled "78 Special Neighborhoods" gives residents of these areas a single sentence to tout their home zone, and that's not enough to truly give readers a flavor of them. It's fortunate, then, that the Post makes such good use of its larger canvas. The photos seen on the cover and in a double-truck center spread are bold and vibrant -- gorgeous, colorful representations of the city where we choose to live.

In them, Denver doesn't look a day over 149. -- Michael Roberts

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