I’ve returned from Denver, Colorado.
While I found time to record a couple of oddities, the Denver International Airport and one of the Arapahoe Exclaves specifically, I did not exhaust the wish list I brought along with me. This was to be expected. I didn’t have much time each evening and little flexibility with my schedule during the day. I thought I’d share one final big-ticket item I wanted to document in person but will have to wait for a subsequent trip.
Denver’s nickname is the "Mile High City" for the obvious reason, because its elevation is indeed right around one mile or 5,280 feet (or 1,609 metres). This is quite evident as soon as an Eastern flatlander such as myself walks up a flight of steps on the day of arrival encumbered by luggage. I’d like to think of myself as being somewhat in shape and preferring to take the stairs for short distances but next time I’ll use the elevator until day two or three. It takes awhile for my brain to adjust to thinner oxygen at these higher elevations.
I wanted to confirm Denver’s mile-high claim by examining evidence available on the ground. I’m not doubting their assertion because the altitude is completely self-evident. It’s not an exaggeration or a marketing ploy. Rather I wondered whether this exact height had been memorialized anywhere. It’s an interesting little tidbit and I figured the local tourist board must have put up a sign or a plaque to amuse the visitors.
I stared with a quick Google search on the phrase, "exactly one mile high." That provided a good starting point with some solid candidates. Practically everything tracked back to Denver with the exception of a swinging bridge on Grandfather Mountain in North Carolina (which I also wouldn’t mind visiting someday). The difference is that in Denver everywhere is about a mile high, not just some out-of-the way park requiring a long drive and an admission fee.
Incidentally there are zero Google hits for "exactly one kilometer high" or its spelling variation, and yes I do realize that I’ve just ruined that by publishing this post. I suppose this happens because a kilometre of elevation isn’t all that remarkable (3,281 feet) or because this particular style of geo-oddity doesn’t resonate outside of the United States. Are there any armchair sociologists out there who want to offer an explanation or a theory? I have none.
There are at least two places in Denver, both easily accessible, that mark the mile-high elevation exactly and explicitly.
The first location is the thirteenth step of the Colorado State Capitol building. Google Street View doesn’t have sufficient detail to show the marker but there are other places on the Intertubes where one can view a photograph. I’m kicking myself for this one because I spent an entire week in downtown Denver a couple of years ago and didn’t realized this marker existed. It would have been simple for me to record. This time I was staying way out in the suburbs so it would have been horribly inconvenient, and of course I didn’t get down there.
View Larger Map
Another opportunity would have been available at Coors Field, home of the Colorado Rockies baseball team. The Rockies were in town, we had some beautiful weather, it would have been a great night for baseball… and again I was way out in the ‘burbs. The seats in the 20th row of the upper deck are purposely colored purple although it’s impossible to see in the satellite photo because the lip of the stadium’s upper edge and the shadows that obscure it. Nonetheless the 20th row creates a band around the stadium at the mile-high mark. It’s visible on the Coors Field photo in Wikipedia. Notice the faint purple line right below the top edge. It provides a more literal meaning to the term "nosebleed section" than most of its major league counterparts.
I noticed a peculiarity as I panned around the map of Denver while preparing this recent series of articles. Check this out:
View Larger Map
Does anyone know of a smaller occupied area completely surrounded by Interstate highway? This triangle, probably no more than a mile on any side, is enclosed by Interstates 25, 76 and 270. There are plenty of paths in-and-out so it’s not exactly isolated but I still find it fascinating. I can’t imagine how noisy it must feel with those highways so closely located on every side. This patch is primarily non-residential (except for maybe these guys) which is probably a good thing.
I’d be interested to know if someone can find a smaller enclosed area where the space is actually being occupied, either for business or residential purposes, that doesn’t involve an instance of someone refusing to sell their property when the highway comes through, i.e., a planned route rather than an individual accommodation.