Just a year ago, Denver was still basking in the glow of winning the Super Bowl when the Mile High City was named the "Best Place to Live in the USA" by U.S. News & World Report. Every year, the publication analyzes 100 metro areas in the United States to find the best places to live based on quality of life and the job market, as well as the value of living there, and Denver landed at number one. Everyone was high on this town, it seemed.
But the Broncos didn't come close to the Super Bowl this round, and now the new U.S. News rankings have shoved Denver into the number-two spot. (At least that's better than the 51st slot, where Denver recently landed on a GoodCall list.)
Who got the top spot this time? Denver's frequent nemesis, Austin, which earned a 7.8 overall score (out of a possible 10). With a new overall score of 7.5, the Mile High City barely edged out the number-three finisher, San Jose, which took a heavy hit on value to average out at 7.4. What hurt Denver this time? Quality of life, a pathetic 6.8 compared to Austin's 7.3.
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Did the Broncos' lousy showing contribute to this city's slide? Here's the new U.S. News description of Denver:
Founded in the mid-1800s as a mining hub during the gold rush, Denver has come a long way since its Wild West days. Over time, its residents have evolved from gun-slinging gamblers into an easygoing crowd of ambitious, progressive-minded fitness fanatics and nature lovers who are eager to push the envelope on everything from civil rights to drug laws. Nicknamed the Mile High City for its 5,280-foot elevation (although officially reported as 5,279 feet), Denver's location at the base of the Rocky Mountains provides a gateway to a slew of outdoor pursuits, although it is probably best known for its devout ski and snowboard enthusiasts.
To clarify a common misconception, Denver is not a mountain town. It actually takes at least an hour to drive to the Rockies. But there are some great places for recreating within a 30-minute drive of downtown, such as Red Rocks Park and Cherry Creek State Park.
Some might say that Denver is experiencing a gold rush of a different color: green. After Colorado residents voted to legalize recreational marijuana in 2012, Denver has seen a surge in cannabis-related commerce, from dispensaries to magazines to high-tech paraphernalia like vaporizers, rolling papers, lotions and storage containers – and the industry is just gaining speed.
We'll consider cannabis our consolation prize. Better luck next year, Denver.