I felt right at home in Denver. Maybe it’s because it feels so much like Seattle, without the water. Two cricks (the Platte and the Cherry) just cannot compare to Puget Sound.
Seattle is bigger, but the populations of the two cities are similar – in the 600,000s in town, and over three million in the metropolitan area. The median housing price in Denver is $315,000, compared to the skyrocketing market in Seattle, where the median price is over $500,000.
Both towns came alive due to the Gold Rush – Seattle for outfitting the rush to Alaska, and Denver for gold in them thar hills. Both towns succumbed to a Great Fire in the 1800’s. (I bet that most pioneer/frontier towns have fire histories. It’s like every episode of “Behind the Music.” Music group forms without two pennies to rub together, struggle for years, make it big, downward spiral to drugs and debauchery, break up, get sober, and stage a comeback tour. Western towns grew due to the railroad or gold or some such, burgeoned overnight, the prostitutes moved in, then the politicians, then they burned to the ground.)
Colorado and Washington have both legalized recreational marijuana, and like Seattle, there are many pot dispensaries in Denver. The song “Rocky Mountain High” has a whole new meaning. Lots of coffee houses – check. Vibrant neighborhoods – check. (I especially liked Capitol Hill in Denver, and LODO. Seattle has Capitol Hill (even though Olympia is the State Capitol), and SODO.)
Seattle’s Fort Lawton was decommissioned and is now a beautiful park and soon-to-be private housing. Denver’s old Lowry Air Force Base is a highly sought-after neighborhood, and one of the old hangars was converted to an aircraft museum – Wings Over The Rockies.
After seeing so many defunct railroad stations as I traveled east, it was a pleasure to see Denver’s Union Station as a vibrant center of the community.
Yes, Seattle’s Union Station is a working passenger station, and was refurbished by Microsoft millionaire Paul Allen, but it pales in comparison to what Denver has accomplished. Along with passenger travel, Union Station houses several restaurants, a hotel, a coffeehouse, an ice cream parlor, and a cocktail bar. The center of the main floor space is reminiscent of a library, with long tables adorned with table lamps and charging stations.
Here’s a little something different about Denver: Denver has more federal employees then any other city in the United States other than Washington, DC. Apparently during the Cold War federal employees were moved inland, out of easy missile strike distance. And, unlike Seattle, Denver has been rooting for its home team for decades; every Broncos home game since 1970 has been sold out, at least according to my tour guide.
The old hotels, the post-prohibition cocktail bars – Denver appeals to me in many ways.
It’s that darned snow that deters me from putting it on my “maybe” list of places to settle down; Denver averages five feet of snow per year.