What Is the Mile High City?

Denver sits precisely one mile above sea level.
Denver sits precisely one mile above sea level.

Mile High City is the nickname of Denver, which is the capital of Colorado State in the US. Denver was nicknamed “Mile High City” because of its elevation, which is precisely a mile above sea level. The city is situated to the east of Rocky Mountains and lies to the east of the confluence of South Plate River and Cherry Creek. In fact, Denver is the highest main city in the United States.

History of Denver City

The first residence in the Mile High City dates back to 1858 by gold prospectors. However, they abandoned the area and moved to Auraria, the city of gold mining in Georgia, and St. Charles City. The city was named after the then governor of Kansa Territory, James W. Denver.

The town emerged due to its accessibility to existing trails passing through South Plate River and towns of Arapaho and Cheyenne, which were seasonal encampment sites. These two towns became the basis of growth of Denver and are now located at Confluence Park, situated close to downtown Denver. Denver City gained significance when it was made capital of Colorado Territory from 1861 until 1902 and grew significantly during this period.

Government and Administration

A mayor who is elected on non-partisan basis administers Denver City. The city is also governed by a city council with thirteen members and an auditor. The members of the city council are elected from the districts, which are in total of thirteen, and they have authority to amend and pass laws, ordinances, resolutions, and deal with misconduct of public officials. They base their judgments on public opinions, and each has a four-year term in office. Apart from the above posts, Denver also has fire, police, and sheriff departments.


The city has served as a key trading point in the central US due to its housing of large corporations. Many companies have relocated to Denver; one of them is the Denver Instrument Company, opened in 1895 as an analytical centre for gold miners. In addition, Denver’s metropolitan production is amongst the highest metro economy in the US. The city obtains its revenues from the minerals such as silver and gold found in the Rocky Mountains.


The city has served many functions in history apart from being the capital city of Colorado. The functions include transport and communication centre as it was linked to other towns with rail. It was also an industrial centre as it housed floriculture industry between the 1880s up to 1930. Moreover, the nuclear weapon facility was established here. Denver held the Democratic National Convention (in 1908 and 2008) and 1976 Winter Olympics. Finally, it acts as an agricultural centre since it is a regional hub for agricultural goods from the High Plains region and the Colorado Front Range.


Denver has been on the receiving end of some challenges. For example, there were cases of corruption in the era spanning from 1880 to 1895. The corruption resulted from elected officials cooperating with crime bosses together with the police and election officials to control gambling, bunco gangs, and elections among others. Moreover, in 1893, Denver was hit by economic depression, which was caused by a decline in silver prices. Furthermore, due to urban migration, the city has witnessed overcrowding and straining of its facilities. Lastly, extreme weather conditions such as tornadoes have also negatively impacted the city.


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