Nicknamed the Mile High City because of its elevation, Denver was established in 1858 just east of the Rocky Mountains as a mining town during the Pikes Peak Gold Rush. Originally known as Denver City, the city was named after Kansas Territorial Governor James W. Denver. At the time, the area was part of Kansas Territory. Later, Denver City's name was shortened to Denver after it became the capit al of the Colorado territory, which was created in 1861. Completion of the Denver Pacific Railroad in 1870 that linked Denver to the transcontinental railroad enabled Denver to prosper as a supply and service hub.
While gold mining brought the first settlers to Denver, companies that are part of the air transportation, telecommunications, aerospace, and manufacturing industries are also found in Denver today. A number of oil and gas companies are also present in Denver, including Halliburton, Noble Energy Inc., Anadarko Petroleum Corp., EnCana Corp., EOG Resources Inc., and GE Oil & Gas.
Innovation in multi-stage hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling technology has allowed the oil and gas industry to begin exploring Colorado's unconventional resources. These resources include shale and tight sands within three basins. Of these plays, the Niobrara currently is the most active, according to a report by the Institute for 21st Century Energy. Some analysts have estimated the Niobrara, which is mainly a liquids-rich play, to hold reserves of approximately 2 billion barrels of recoverable oil reserves, according to the Colorado Oil & Gas Association.
Unconventional oil and gas activity in Colorado created 77,600 jobs in the state in 2012, according to the second part of a report by the Institute for 21st Century Energy into the impact of unconventional resources on the U.S. economy. The number of jobs in Colorado supported by shale activity will grow to 121,398 in 2020 and 175,363 in 2035. Unconventional oil and gas activity contributed value-added economic activity of more than $11 billion in Colorado last year; that contribution is estimated to grow to more than $26 billion by 2035.
The nine-county Metro Denver and northern Colorado region ranked fourth for fossil fuel energy employment and seventh among the nation's 50 largest metros for clean technology development concentration in 2012, according to the Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation. The energy industry cluster employs more than 44,000 people in the area, and the state of Colorado ranked tenth in fossil fuel energy jobs. Energy research centers and universities such as the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and the Colorado School of Mines are also found in the Denver area.
The energy industry not only has impacted Denver's economy in real life, but in prime time as well – the popular 1980s TV soap opera, "Dynasty" followed the lives of a wealthy oil family living in Denver.
Denver residents can enjoy an active lifestyle, thanks to the city's proximity to the ski resorts and outdoor recreation opportunities in the Rocky Mountains, as well as the city's golf courses, dog parks, swimming pools and tennis courts. Not surprisingly, Denver's access to outdoor recreation opportunities means its residents are among the healthiest in the United States. In 2011, Forbes magazine ranked Denver fifth among America's Top 20 Healthiest Cities. The city's overall good weather, performing arts and cultural opportunities, panoramic view of the Rockies and excellent schools make Denver an ideal place to work.
Residents and visitors can glimpse the city's past at historical sites such as the Molly Brown House – the home of the Unsinkable Molly Brown, an American socialite and philanthropist who survived the sinking of the Titanic – to Denver's Four Mile Historic Park, which features the city's oldest standing structure and exhibits of pioneer life in the West. Other landmarks and attractions include Colorado's state capitol building, the U.S. Mint and Elitch Gardens, an amusement park located in downtown Denver. The city offers something for everyone, from art and science museums to performing arts and sporting events to its aquarium, zoo and botanical gardens.
Author: Karen Boman
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