Denver, CO

Denver reminds newcomer of Los Angeles

David Heitz

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The Denver skyline.Andrew Coop/Unsplash

I never would have expected it prior to moving here.

After living here three years, Denver reminds me of Los Angeles. I lived 10 years in Los Angeles after growing up and attending college in Illinois.

There are myriad examples of how Denver and Los Angeles are alike, not the least of which is the city’s passion for debauchery. Denver’s night club scene can get a little crazy. A stretch limousine with a Playboy bunny on it regular runs up and down Colfax. Colfax itself expresses its wanton side with its mix of adult businesses.

Both cities have reputations for being ‘wild’

A list of the “wildest” places in America appears on a website called The Online Betting Guide. While it offers few specifics for how it arrived at its conclusions, it ranked Denver as having the highest rates in the country for binge drinking.

And Denver came in third overall for America’s wildest cities. “Just where in the U.S. do the residents like to party the hardest?” The Online Betting Guide asks. “To find out, we’ve ranked the country’s most populated cities on six factors: nightlife, and strip clubs per 100,000 people and consumption of alcohol, marijuana and cocaine.”

Las Vegas ranked the wildest city, holding onto its hard-earned reputation. And No. 2? Gloomy Portland, Oregon.

According to The Online Betting Guide statistics, Denver is home to hardcore boozers. About one in four binge drinks. Two thirds have tried marijuana. More than one in five have used cocaine, according to the statistics.

But its wild side isn’t the only thing that makes me feel like Denver and Los Angeles have a lot in common. Other similarities include:

The mountains are beautiful

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The Los Angeles skyline.Cameron Venti/Unsplash

Both places are surrounded by beautiful mountains. Both places also have air pollution that prevents you from being able to see the mountains on many days.

Air pollution often shrouds the mountains

When it comes to air pollution, the American Lung Association ranks Los Angeles the worst. However, Denver is not far behind at No. 8.

Traffic is a disaster

A Patch story reports that Denver is among the top 20 worst places in the country for traffic. Los Angeles ranks as eighth worst. Expect a lot of horn-honking and wild lane weavers on the freeways in both cities.

Huge homeless populations

Both cities have massive homeless populations that have resulted in litigation. A judge told Los Angeles it must house all its homeless people by this fall, although it seems an impossible task. Denver is spending more than half a billion dollars a year on homeless services, yet its homeless population is growing. One recent survey showed the number of people experiencing homelessness for the first time in Denver doubled last year.

Large Hispanic populations

While Los Angeles has the largest percentage of Hispanic residents in the country at 45.1 percent, Denver comes in 16th at 22.6 percent.

Wealth all around

Denver ranks 23rd on the USA Today list of wealthiest cities. Nearby Boulder comes in at an impressive 12th. Los Angeles, despite its tony reputation, did not make the list.

“The typical household in Denver earns $71,926 a year compared to the median income of $65,685 in Colorado and the national median of $57,617,” according to USA Today. “As of March 2018, just 2.8 percent of the metro area’s labor force were out of a job, below both the statewide jobless rate of 3 percent and the national rate of 4.1%. Major employers in the Denver metro area include defense contractors Lockheed Martin and Raytheon, financial services company Charles Schwab, several hospitals and health care providers, as well as technology companies like Oracle and Level 3 Communications.”

Lockheed Martin and the aerospace industry also have a strong presence in Southern California.

Newcomers everywhere

Both Los Angeles and Denver have high percentages of people who aren’t from there. CNBC reported Denver as one of the most popular places people are moving to during the COVID-19 pandemic. For every person that has left, 1.4 people have moved in, according to LinkedIn data.

Like Los Angeles, parts of Denver are beginning to feel a bit crowded.

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I have been in the news business more than 30 years, spending much of my career at some of the best newspapers in the country. Today, I specialize in Denver local news, health reporting, social justice issues, addiction/recovery/mental health news, and topics surrounding homelessness and human trafficking.

Denver, CO
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