City of mountains : Denver and the Mountain West



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This study is an urban history of Denver, Colorado, viewed through the lens of its constantly evolving physical, political, cultural and economic relationship with its mountain hinterland. From the town's early years as a 19th century mining and ranching depot to its 20th century emergence as a hub of tourism and technology, that relationship informs every aspect of the city's urban, cultural and environmental history. This study seeks, first, to analyze Denver's historical appropriation and utilization of its mountain hinterland, whether for water, wealth, recreation and cultural identity. Second, it highlights how access to and control over the Rocky Mountain hinterland shaped Denver's evolving political, class and racial landscapes throughout the city's history. Integrating the methodologies of environmental, urban, and social history, it demonstrates how different social groups competed for access, control, and the ability to vii assign value to the mountain hinterland. Every Denverite in the city's history, regardless of station, has lived within the context of this tense and constantly changing relationship. Since the city's founding, that relationship has been the constant object of human agency, accommodation, and change, and in it can be read the story of Denver itself.