than 50,000 people — including 15,000 journalists and 5,000 elected delegates — will be descending on the city of Denver in late August (8/25-28) to attend
the Democratic National Convention, at which Senator Barack Obama is expected to be formally nominated as the
party's candidate for U.S. President.
Denver officials see the event as an opportunity to showcase the
Colorado capital as a gateway to the New West.
White rides her bike to work a couple of times a week. That's one of the things
she likes about Denver, which has nearly 1400 kilometers of bike paths.
years ago White came for a job and stayed.
"I like Denver because I like the outdoor community," she
says. "I like what's available
close to Denver: an hour from where I live I am in the mountains, and there are
so many opportunities to fulfill my outdoor active lifestyle."
White, Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper
came to Colorado for a job. He says the
decision to make Denver his home was an easy one.
is nestled right up next to one of the natural wonders of the world, the
Colorado Rockies. [We have] 310 days of sunshine a year." The mayor often jokes that Denver is a
place where people get up earlier on the weekends because there is so much to
was born at the confluence of Cherry Creek and the South Platte River when
prospectors discovered gold there in 1858. While the city has experienced
boom-and-bust cycles in the mining and oil business ever since, Denverites
today largely support themselves with jobs in government jobs or in energy,
tourism, service or manufacturing.
metropolitan area's population is expected to grow from 2.7 to 3.9 million
people by 2030, which has Mayor Hickenlooper concerned. "If we are going to have all these
people come, we need to make sure that we don't feel the congestion and
strangle the very quality of life that brought these people in the first
place," he says.
Congestion — and the pollution that often comes with it — have become major problems in
Denver. Roger Singer is regional director of the Sierra Club, the nation's largest and oldest environmental group. From the gardens behind the Museum of Nature and Science, what appears to be a picture perfect blue-sky day, Singer says is also an "ozone action-alert
day." People with respiratory
problems are advised to stay indoors.
one o'clock this afternoon is about the time that the ozone could be building
up here in the city," he says. Tailpipe exhaust and smokestack pollutants
are largely responsible for Denver's ozone.
city is taking a number of steps to address the problem, including the
development of a climate action plan to reduce auto and industrial carbon emissions.
officials have also put in place an energy conservation program aimed at making city buildings and homes more energy-efficient.
voted to tax themselves to pay for a 200-kilometer light rail commuter transit system,
an investment with a price tag of $4.7 billion dollars.
the city, and more widely across the so-called "Front Range" of
Denver's metropolitan neighbors, Singer says residents are showing their
determination to protect the environment.
"The entire Front Range has signed a compact amongst the
mayors," he says. "[More
than 30 mayors] have agreed to work together to reduce our carbon footprint in
this huge sprawling metropolitan area that is growing so quickly."
the economy is booming. Downtown
construction crews are working on multiple housing and office buildings
the construction cranes haven't scared away visitors. Denver welcomed 12.2 million visitors in 2007, making tourism
the city's second largest business behind manufacturing. Erin Trapp, director of Denver's Office of
Cultural Affairs, says people come here not only to enjoy the outdoors, but also to attend sports
events, concerts and other arts events.
city's cultural district has an art museum, library, Colorado history
museum. It's also where you'll find
city hall and Civic Center Park.
Democratic National Convention, being held here from August 25-28, is expected
to be the highest security event ever staged in the mile-high city.
Mayor John Hickenlooper works with local, state and national law enforcement
officials to ensure it is also the safest, he sees the event as a chance to
showcase the "can-do" entrepreneurial spirit of the New West. "The west is not just about rugged
individualists elbowing their way to the top," he says. "It is really about collaboration."
Hickenlooper hopes that visitors like what they see during the four-day
Democratic National Convention enough to come back as tourists or to do
business in the Colorado capital.
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