Mile High Tourism: Denver’s Convention and Visitor History

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Mile High Tourism: Denver’s Convention and Visitor History
Series Title:
Mile High Tourism: Denver’s Convention and Visitor History
Pierson, Fran
Place of Publication:
Denver, CO
Center for Colorado and the West
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Auraria Library
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Auraria Library
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All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.


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Mile High Tourism: Denvers Convention and Visitor History | Center for Colorado & the West at Auraria Library[12/8/2015 12:48:39 PM] Home Mile High Tourism: Denvers Convention and Visitor HistoryMile High Tourism: Denvers Convention and Visitor HistorySubmitted by jainlayconley on 4-28-2010 09:07 PMAuthor: Thomas J. Noel and Debra Faulkner Publishing: Denver: Visit Denver, 2010. Foreword by Mayor John Hickenlooper. Black and white photos, color photos, index, bibliography, appendices. vi + 163 pages. 12 x 9 1/2. $39.95 hardback. Reviewer: Fran Pierson Every five years or so a new coffee table folio makes its debut with splashy color photos of the Mile High City, accompanied by pages of booster prose but otherwise devoid of any real substance. Happily the latest venture into this genre, Mile High Tourism: Denver's Convention and Visitor History appears to avoid the pitfalls of indulging in vacuous hyperbole and self-congratulations. The temptation to promote without really informing was doubtless a strong one considering that the book is about the history of tourist promotion. The fact remains, however, that Denver is a city that owes its very existence to the promoters skill, without denying that sometimes the job included resorting to shameless and outlandish hucksterism. Foremost among that list of civic prevaricators was William Newton Byers, founder of the Rocky Mountain News whose enthusiasm knew few boundaries. One must surely wink at Byerss habit of printing shipping schedules in early editions of the News in order to create the impression that Denver lay on a fully navigable waterway, namely the South Platte River! It is small wonder, then, that the editors critics often referred to his Cherry Creek journal as the Rocky Mountain Liar. But Byers was as colorful as his newspaper and equally savvy in his appraisal of the citys potential. Not surprisingly, he went on to co-found the Denver Board of Trade, early forerunner of the Chamber of Commerce. Mile High Tourism details the history of several efforts to place Denver in the national and international limelight, including the National Mining and Industrial Exposition, the National Western Stock Show, and Mayor Speers grand Municipal Auditorium, which opened by hosting the 1908 Democratic national convention. Without such Herculean efforts by local overachievers and visionaries such as Byers, H. A. W. Tabor, Roger Woodbury, and the Evans-Moffat-Cheesman triumvirate, Denver might well have withered on the vine. The only reason that the city of today does not resemble Cheyenne more than it does Dallas is because those early boosters pushed it front and center onto the larger world stage. This is a place that has always gloried in outrageous aspirations and urban pretensions, considering its modest size and relative remoteness, but civic leaders generally refused to be deterred by geographic limitations. They regarded the wall of mountains to the west not as barriers but as a destination and the high altitude as a panacea for a variety of health problems. Byers insisted that a healthy man need never worry about dying of natural causes in such a robust climate. Like-minded publicists labored to get the word out, beginning with the railroads and continuing through the advent of auto highways and the age of jet travel. Denver, they insisted, was a unique, healthful, and overwhelmingly scenic corner of the world not to be missed. From far and wide people came to ogle the vistas, and a significant number of them elected to stay. In the end, scenery trumped industry as Denver grew into a major transportation hub and tourist destination. EXPLORE BY MEDIABook Reviews Photographs Video Biographies New Publications Resource Guides County Newspaper HistoriesEXPLORE BY TOPICLand & Natural Resources Government & Law Agriculture Mining Commerce & Industry Transportation People & Places Communication Healthcare & Medicine Education & Libraries Cultural Communities Recreation & Entertainment Tourism ReligionEXPLORE BY CULTUREHispanic Native AmericanNow, thats wrong! Some of these Japanese are citizens of the United States. Colorado Gov. Ralph Carrs response to Executive Order 9066 forcing Japanese into internment camps during WWII.


Mile High Tourism: Denvers Convention and Visitor History | Center for Colorado & the West at Auraria Library[12/8/2015 12:48:39 PM] Auraria Library 303-556-4587 1100 Lawrence Street Denver, Colorado 80204 In the News Partners & Donations About Us Contact Us Noels and Faulkners treatise on this get them here and they will stay phenomenon is both entertaining and illuminating. My only disappointment was the omission of Gen. William Jackson Palmers important role in the drama. Because Palmer is more often remembered as the founder of Colorado Springs, his contributions to Denver are often overlooked. In fact, while the authors make some mention of his Denver & Rio Grande Railroad, its significance to the development of Denver and Colorado is definitely understated. Denver was still the main staging platform for the Rio Grande, which did more to create the perception of Colorado as the Switzerland of America than any other entity during those formative years between 1870 and 1910 when the automobile made its popular debut. The Rio Grande stimulated Denvers growth and prosperity every bit as much as Tabors opera house, the Rocky Mountain News or any of Evanss many legacies. In truth, all these early ventures fed on one another and contributed to Denvers establishing itself as the uncontested hub of the Rocky Mountain West. Down to the present day, Mile High Tourism chronicles that spirit of optimism that has always been a hallmark of our fair city. In addition to a great story line, Mile High Tourism offers up a delicious array of old and new photographs not generally seen in editions of this sort. True, the book has its share of glossy brochure photos, but the inclusion of old post cards and black and white stills from the early twentieth century lend it a humane quality. How evocative it is to view a Sunday afternoon traffic jam in Mount Vernon Canyon from the 1940s or stare at the stark reality of a Depression-era family taking shelter in an abandoned boxcar. Such details add a poignant and reflective realism to this tale of progress, reminding us that even in the flush of success there is an inevitable element of pain. The bitter and the sweet are always commingled to some degree. Every reader will find something of interest in this beautiful volume, which will embellish any coffee table in need of the perfect accent. Reviewer Info: Fran Pierson, a Denver native and founder of Pierson Graphics map publishers, later known as Mapsco, is both a writer and an avid historian. He has published two books to date, Getting to Know Denver: Five Fabulous Walking Tours and Summit of Destiny: Taming the Pikes Peak Country, 1858. Fran also narrates walking tours for the Colorado Historical Society as well as composes and performs music. Palmer Divide Productions has featured his music in documentary history videos. He is currently working on a new book to be set in the late colonial era around Chesapeake Bay. Add new comment