Denver (/ˈdɛnvər/) is the principal city of the Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO Metropolitan Statistical Area and the hub of the Front Range Urban Corridor. It is located near the western edge of the High Plains, just east of the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains, in the South Platte River Valley. Downtown is about 12 miles (19 km) east of the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, at the confluence of Cherry Creek and the South Platte River. Denver Union Station is located directly along the 105th meridian west of Greenwich, the longitudinal reference for the Mountain Time Zone.
Denver is located in the Front Range Urban Corridor, between the Rocky Mountains to the west and the High Plains to the east. Denver’s topography consists of plains in the city center with hilly areas to the north, west, and south. There are 99,025 acres (400.739 km2) of land and 1,057 acres (4.275 km2) of water in the City and County of Denver. Denver is surrounded by three counties: Adams County to the north and east, Arapahoe County to the south and east, and Jefferson County to the west. The nearest ocean to Denver is the Gulf of California, located 750 miles (1,200 km) away.
Denver is home to a wide array of museums. There are many nationally recognized museums in Denver, including a new wing at the Denver Art Museum designed by world-renowned architect Daniel Libeskind, the second-largest performing arts center in the country after Lincoln Center in New York City, and bustling neighborhoods such as LoDo, home to art galleries, restaurants, bars, and nightclubs. Denver and its surrounding areas are home to a number of local and national breweries. Several of the region’s restaurants have on-site breweries, and some larger breweries offer tours, including Coors and New Belgium Brewing Company.
The state has acquired many parks in Denver, such as Washington Park, Cheesman Park, and City Park, among others. Schuetze, as well as other landscape architects such as Frederick Law Olmsted Jr. and Saco Rienk DeBoer, were employed by Speer to design not only parks but also city parkways and tree lawns. The Denver Botanic Gardens are adjacent to Cheesman Park. Water from the South Platte River was diverted through the city ditch to all of these parks. Winter Park Resort operates in Grand County, 67 miles (110 km) west of Denver, on a mountain that Denver owns.
Colleges and universities in Denver offer a wide range of study programs and ages. The Auraria Campus consists of three major public schools: the University of Colorado Denver, Metropolitan State University of Denver, and Community College of Denver. Founded in 1864, the University of Denver was the first institution of higher learning in Denver. Johnson & Wales University and Catholic (Jesuit) Regis University are two other Denver-area higher education institutions.
A majority of Denver’s streets are oriented according to the four cardinal directions. Blocks are usually numbered in hundreds starting with “00”, which are Broadway (the east–west median, running east–west) and Ellsworth Avenue (the north–south median, running east–west). Denver’s main east-west artery, Colfax Avenue, is located 15 blocks (1500) north of the median. The avenues north of Ellsworth are numbered (with the exception of Colfax Avenue and a few others, such as Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd. and Montview Blvd. ), while the avenues south of Ellsworth are named. Additionally, there is an older downtown grid system that runs parallel to the confluence of the South Platte River and Cherry Creek. Downtown and in LoDo, most streets run northeast–southwest and northwest–southeast.
There are no streets in the downtown grid system (e.g. 16th Street, Stout Street), with the exception of the five NE-SW streets closest to Colfax Avenue and Broadway: Cheyenne Place, Cleveland Place, Court Place, Tremont Place, and Glenarm Place. Outside that system, east/west roads are called avenues and north/south roads are called streets (e.g. Colfax Avenue, Lincoln Street). Interstates I-25 and I-70 serve Denver primarily. Locally, the problematic intersection of these two interstates is called the “mousetrap” because when viewed from the air, it resembles a large trap for mice.