Denver, Colorado is a city with a long and interesting history that began in the 1850’s. In the summer of 1858, prospectors looking for gold made their way across the plains into the Colorado Territory. Before and after the Civil War, people flocked to the area looking for gold, or to make money off of those who did.
General William H. Larimer came to the area, took over the land on the east side of Cherry Creek and started designing a city. In order to curry political favor, he named this city after the Kansas Territorial governor James Denver, who, unbeknownst to Larimer, had already resigned. By 1859 there were two separate cities on both sides of the South Platte. The confusion almost caused bloodshed until a meeting was held on the bridge over Cherry Creek and it was decided that all the other names being used would be dropped and one city would be known as Denver.
The fortunes of the city were up and down, but in 1863 a fire burned most of the business district and in 1864 a flood killed 20 people and damaged the city to the tune of a million dollars. Later that year an Indian war broke out. When the Union Pacific Railroad bypassed Colorado on its transcontinental route, citizens of Denver built their own. By 1890, Denver was the fifth largest city west of the Mississippi.
In the early 1900’s the population of Denver doubled. The juvenile court movement, under Judge Ben Lindsey, was pioneered in Denver. The city became the world leader in building parks under Mayor Robert Speer. In 1908 Denver hosted the Democratic National Convention, something that wouldn’t happen again for 100 years.
Until World War II, its economy was mostly comprised of processing and shipping ranch products and minerals. During and after the war, manufacturing moved to front and center. Through the 50’s and 60’s, suburbs sprung up, Denver became a place where “beat poets” gathered. By the end of the 20th Century, Denver was a diverse community.