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Facts About Denver

The History of Science Society, in conjunction with the International History Philosophy, and Science Teaching (IHPST) Group, will convene in Denver, Colorado for the 2001 meeting. This joint meeting with the IHPST offers HSS members an excellent opportunity to learn more about the latest education strategies in the history of science. Sessions for both societies will be held in parallel fashion. The 2001 meeting will also feature the best scholarship in the history of science as program chairs David Wilson (Iowa State) and Steven Livesey (University of Oklahoma) assemble a program that is sure to appeal to everyone.

The 2001 meeting site will be in the central downtown area of one of the fastest-growing cities in the United States. Denver has more than doubled in population since 1960 and has grown by 23% since 1990, growth that is reminiscent of the town's influx of settlers during the great "Pikes Peak or Bust Gold Rush" of 1859 when flakes of gold were found at the union of the South Platte River and Cherry Creek. By the turn-of-the-century, the raw edges of the bustling gold-rush town were refined to a point that Denver approached respectability. Its ore-based wealth was devoted to parks, fountains, statues, tree-lined streets and elaborate mansions, leading Denver to be nicknamed the "Queen City of the Plains."

This increased respectability continues and is reflected in the citizens' interest in education. The city has some of the highest percentages of high school and college graduates of any major metropolitan area in the country: 91.1% of the 25 years and older population in the metro area have high school diplomas and 38.2% have at least a bachelor's degree, according to the U.S. Census. (The national average is 84% for high school diplomas and 26% with a college degree.) This interest in learning is reflected in the city's many fine bookstores, which includes the magnificent Tattered Cover Book Store in Writer's Square, which is a short walk from the conference hotel, the Adam's Mark.

Walking in Denver's compact downtown is easy. Contrary to popular belief, Denver is not in the mountains; it is near them. The "Foothills" (a gentle series of peaks ranging from 7,000 to 11,000 feet (2,133 to 3,353 meters) high, start to rise 15 miles (24 kilometers) west of the city. Slightly beyond that is the Continental Divide and a series of peaks soaring to heights of 14,000 feet,(4,267 meters) known locally as the "Front Range." Denver itself is located on high, rolling plains. Unlike some Western cities, Denver has a central downtown area. For those who like to jog or simply stroll, the Mile High Trail is a series of six walking tours throughout the downtown area. Copies can be obtained from the Denver Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau Information Center in the Tabor Center, located on the 16th Street Mall. Within easy walking distance are the city's performing-arts complex, and a wide variety of shops, department stores, restaurants, nightspots, and some of the city's top attractions including the U.S. Mint, Denver Art Museum and Colorado History Museum. A mile-long pedestrian mall cuts through the heart of downtown Denver and is surrounded by a series of parks and plazas that soften the city's many skyscrapers and provide viewpoints from which to see and appreciate the modern architecture. Lower Downtown (called "LoDo" by locals) is on the northern edge of downtown Denver and offers one of the nation's greatest concentrations of Victorian buildings and warehouses, many of which have been refurbished to house restaurants, art galleries, offices and shops. This is the center of the city's brew pubs, with six large brew pubs and micro breweries, each brewing six to eight exclusive beers. When one combines the brew pubs with the Coors Brewery, the largest single brewery in the world, it is easy to see why Colorado claims that it brews more beer than any other state.

Nothing about Denver is more misunderstood than the city's climate. Located just east of a high mountain barrier and a long distance from any moisture source, Denver has a mild, dry climate. The city receives only 8-15 inches (20.3 - 38 cm) of precipitation a year (about the same as Los Angeles), and records 300 days of sunshine a year -- more annual hours of sun than San Diego or Miami Beach. Winters are pleasant with an average daily high of 52.5 degrees Fahrenheit, 11.4 degrees Celsius in November. Snow does fall, but it usually melts in a short time. Chinook winds (a wind blowing down from a mountain that gains heat as it loses elevation) can bring 60 degree F (16 degrees C) weather to Denver at any time throughout the winter.

Denver has some of the finest museums in the West with a wide variety of historical, western, artistic and horticultural emphases. The Black American West Museum tells the story of African American cowboys, who made up as many as one third of all the cowboys on the great cattle drives. The Colorado History Museum traces the colorful history of the Indians, explorers, gold miners, cowboys and pioneers that have called Colorado home. Exhibits include an outstanding collection of William Henry Jackson photos and a large diorama of Denver as it appeared in 1860. The Denver Museum of Nature and Science is the fourth largest museum of its kind in the nation, with over 80 dioramas depicting animals from around the world. In addition to an outstanding dinosaur collection, the Denver Art Museum has over 40,000 works of art, the largest and most comprehensive collection of world art between Kansas City and the West Coast. The 28-sided building is itself a piece of sculpture and was designed by Gio Ponti of Italy in collaboration with James Sudler Associates of Denver. Specialties include the Native American gallery, a renowned collection of the arts of the indigenous peoples of North America. The 17,000 objects in this collection are regarded by some as the finest examples of American Indian art to be found in any museum. The Western Art Gallery contains pieces that capture the spirit of the American West, including masterpieces by Frederic Remington, Albert Bierstadt, Norman Rockwell and Charles Marion Russell.

The city also has many local attractions. The Colorado State Capitol stands a mile above sea level with a plaque on the 15th step to mark the spot that is 5,280 feet (1,609 m) high. The dome is covered with 200 ounces of pure gold and there is a beautiful view from the rotunda of the entire Front Range, from Pikes Peak, all the way north to the Wyoming border, a distance of over 150 miles (241 km). The Molly Brown House honors "Unsinkable Molly Brown," the heroine of the Titanic disaster with mementos from her life preserved in her home on Capitol Hill. With all there is to see and do, delegates will enjoy their stay in the "Mile High City."


13 April 2001 | Contact HSS | Contact the Web Editor | Return Home
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