Growing pains are rough, and Denver has spent several years going through puberty. It’s like the city has been in puberty for all of middle school and several years of high school. But somewhere along the way — junior year, I guess — Denver took off its glasses and everyone was like, “whoa, Denver is hot.”
So now everyone is talking about Denver but, like, they don’t even know Denver.
It’s both flattering and frustrating to read the things people think about our city. At best, tourism pieces are accurate but paint the city in shades of beige. At worst, the “everyone’s moving to Denver” pieces reveal complete cluelessness about what it’s like to live here.
Some, like this May 2018 piece in SFGate about people leaving the Bay Area for Denver, get our blood boiling by ignoring or downplaying the problems caused by Denver’s newfound popularity and getting our geography wrong in the process. (Note to future Denver trend piece writers: Denver is not “ringed by mountains.” Denver is not in the mountains. Denver is a dozen or so miles from the mountains.)
Others, like the New York Times’ latest 36 Hours in Denver piece, pretty accurately reflect what we’d recommend to tourists (though we have our own ideas about where we’d take friends to taste “real Denver.”)
No one likes to be misunderstood, especially not high schoolers (yes we’re still imagining Denver as a teen), so we’ve found a not-at-all productive way to release some angst: Denver Buzzword Bingo.
It’s extremely self-explanatory, but hold on while we explain it anyway.
When somebody who’s not from Denver writes about Denver, come back here to denverite.com/bingo and check the card. See how they did.
To be clear, it’s not that writing about these elements of Denver’s identity is in itself bad.
It’s just that it probably means you’re missing certain other things, and often stories like this don’t have enough time or space to get into what makes them living, breathing parts of our city.
If you’ve read about the Cherry Creek shopping district, you might be interested to know that a hundred years ago it was home to “a little colony of black people,” according to Nancelia Jackson, who moved there in 1926. “We were here first,” she said. Or you might want to see a cool visual history of the Cherry Creek Mall.
If you’ve read about the Cherry Creek Greenway, one of our editor’s favorite places, you might be interested to know that it was also the site of a constitutional argument around whether the city could ban specific drug users from entering specific Denver parks. Also somebody once pitched us on ripping out Speer Boulevard, the very busy parkway just above and alongside the creek.
If you’ve read about accidentally getting too high, just … come on.
If you’ve read about Denver being a “cow town” or even a “former cow town,” you might be interested to know about the ongoing $800 million redevelopment of the National Western Center (yes, there are pictures of cows at that link).
If you’ve read about how Colorado is a purple state, you’re probably also mentioning that it’s more red-and-blue than it is purple, right? For example, only one Denver precinct voted for the Republican candidate for governor in 2018. But here’s a quirk a lot of people don’t know: We’ve only had one Republican governor since 1974.
We could go on.
But you probably already get our newsletter and know all of this stuff anyway, right?