Denver, CO

Denver’s friendliness factor debated

David Heitz

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“Not anymore it’s not,” Kirk Standerfer replied on Quora to, “Is Denver a friendly city?”

It’s a question that’s burning up online discussion boards.

“I’m not a native but have lived most of my life here and Denver used to have its own unique culture,” Standerfer said. “It was an overgrown cow town with a small native population, and it seemed everyone else was from either Texas or New York. And even the people from New York were so happy to be out of New York that they were friendly, too. Texans are always friendly. “

Then the California card came into play. “Then California goes (into economic decline), and we’ve got a ton of transplants from California,” Standerfer explains. “Colorado isn’t California and I know traffic laws aren’t really enforced much in the Golden State, but there was a time when California was a great place to live. The 1960’s, 70’s & 80’s it was great. Then it was ruined in the 1990s.

“Denver is being remade into an entirely new city that isn’t at all like the town I grew up in. It’s sad. The people aren’t friendly unless you’re also from California and pulling your $2,000 baby stroller out of your Land Rover at Wash Park. “

Denver used to be quiet, calm

Dave P. said on Quora Denver struggles with some of the same issues as much larger cities. “When I first moved to Denver, I remember commenting to friends about how it was so relaxed and quiet that one of the first things you’d notice walking around town were the lack of car horns and loud, obnoxious people you run into in other cities,” he observed. “It was almost like people were tripping over themselves to be nice to each other.”

Dave P. says it’s not like that anymore. “Attitudes seem to be shifting quite a bit. I live close to downtown, and every time I go outside, I’m seeing more and more people that look miserable, many more aggressive drivers, more inconsiderate behavior (line cutting, impatient drivers, aggressive attitudes, public arguments, etcetera) than I did my first year or two. I think the warped-speed growth, cost of living, stagnating wages, etcetera, are starting to get to people, which is leading to more aggressive behavior towards one another.”

Angeleno finds Denver welcoming

Orlando Garcia moved to Denver from Los Angeles in 1994 for pharmacy school. He found people to be overtly friendly in Denver. “Over the six years I was residing there I experienced the same thing day in and day out with all the people there,” he said. “Denver is amazing, and I am hoping to make my way back there at some point in my lifetime. I am a native of Los Angeles where you either keep to yourself and rarely speak to strangers. If making eye contact with people in Los Angeles it's not usually for the sole purpose of saying ‘hello.’”

Now, however, Denver is a lot like Los Angeles, with transplants, pollution, homelessness and a huge disparity between the haves and have nots.

According to one anonymous poster on Quora “Some Colorado natives (not all) have this vicious hatred of people from California and Texas.” The poster adds, “If someone doesn’t ‘fit in’ and by fitting in I mean owning a dog, smoking pot, drinking craft beer, growing a beard, owning a Subaru, all wrapped around this ‘granola-ey’ … liberal agenda, chances are you will stick out like a sore thumb. “

Blame it on the Broncos

On Reddit, a poster asks a completely different question from the person on Quora. “Why are people here so friendly?” asks someone from Tulsa, Oklahoma on a Denver sub-Reddit.

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A debate ensues on whether Colorado being the first to legalize marijuana has anything to do with its kick-back attitude. But natives said it’s always been that way.

“The city is generally friendlier when the Broncos are doing well,” SavePongo remarks.

“When I was a kid, my dad was the CEO of a fairly large Denver-based company,” added JSA17 of Wash Park. “He didn't care about the Broncos as a football team but hated it when they lost because a ton of people would call in sick the next day.”

So, in addition to rising housing costs, homelessness, pollution and congestion, the Broncos are another reason some Denverites may be in a bad mood. They have been losing more games than not lately.

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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 local newspapers in the country. Today, I report on Denver City Hall, homelessness and other topics for NewsBreak, much like I did in my twenties covering Newport Beach, Calif. for the Daily Pilot. I consider myself a lucky guy to still be doing what I love after so many years.

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