Wednesday 29 May, 2013
Denver started out as a mining town. Settlers flooded the area looking for gold but by the time they got there most of it was gone. For decades after the first settlers arrived, it was a Wild West town of swinging doors and boardwalk gunfights. But decades later, it would reemerge as the high-tech capital of the West.
Industry Comes to Denver
The 1930s brought the first high tech industry to Denver. During the years leading up to the war, Lowry Air Force Base and the Rocky Mountain Arsenal were established to produce armaments. This led to the city’s first big boom.
Although Denver’s precious metal gold was gone quickly, in the 1950s another type of gold was found – black gold. Oil companies set up shop and this caused a second gold rush. However, the oil crisis effectively shut down Denver’s oil industry and with the flight to the suburbs that occurred during the 70s, the city was in pretty bad shape.
The oil crisis hit Denver hard, but it actually led way to the city becoming the metropolis that it is today. The reason is that companies in Denver innovated and pioneered alternative energy technologies like wind and solar power. This earned it the nickname ‘the energy capital of the West.’ Alternative energy is still vital to its economy today.
In the 1980s, another industry moved in en masse. During this decade, the skyscrapers went up and the telecommunications industry began to call the city home. Several large telecom companies set up shop there. One reason was the lucky location – located right in the middle of the country on Mountain Time made it easy to communicate with the coasts. The high altitude also helped with keeping connections.
The Tech Boom
The 1990s saw incredible growth in the Mile High City. The Denver International Airport was built in 1995, giving the whole city’s economy a boost. The airport’s boosters say it’s the largest airport in the United States (it is, in terms of space and capacity). Again, the luck of location comes into play here. Denver is the perfect connecting point for flights between east and west.
Denver’s economy exploded with the dotcom boom. Tech companies Interlocken and Oracle made the city home and this led to even more growth in the tech sector. The federal government established the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) here as well as the nearby United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs and the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Boulder.
A 21st Century City
The dotcom boom went bust but Denver continued to thrive. During the first decade of the 21st century as the country’s economy slumped, Denver fared better than most cities with a low unemployment rate and good standard of living. Denver is still an innovative leader in technology and business.