December 7, 2013 by Rob Hurlbut
Downtown Denver And Capitol Building
Denver has a capitol building with a dome covered in gold and granite steps that sit a mile above sea level. Unfortunately the dome is currently going through an extensive renovation, so people are not able to walk up the inside or even see it. The last time I walked up there was in 1999 so I was looking forward to walking those steps again but alas, I was denied. The renovations are needed; the building is over 100 years old so in addition to stripping lead based paint and rust from the structure, 72 ounces of brand new Colorado mined gold will be pressed into gold leaf and applied to the dome. The work will be completed early next year and when it is, I have a feeling that the saying, “shine like the top of the Chrysler building” will be replaced with, “shine like the dome of Denver.” That’s my early prediction, so place your bets now.
Denver Capitol Mile High Step Markers
Denver is known as the mile high city because it sits one mile above sea level. The granite capitol building is right at that vertical point in space. There is a spot on the west steps that shows you exactly when you are one mile above sea level. Actually, there are three. In the photo above you can see two brass markers as well as words carved right into the granite steps. The mythology of Denver says that the top marker had been stolen many times so city leadership had the spot marked with immovable words chiseled into the steps. In 2003 it was discovered that the first two markers were not quite at the right place so a third was added, a couple steps lower. I have it in my head that I’d like to go back to take more photos but I’d like to bring some brass cleaner with me to clean the marker up a bit. Hopefully, it’s not illegal to clean up city property because I would hate to have a swarm of men in black tackle me to the ground for polishing a mile high marker.
Denver Capital Building West Steps
Even though the spiral staircase leading up to the dome is closed, you can still go inside the capitol building during the week during regular business hours. I didn’t go inside on this day. I’ve not been in there for 14 years so I can wait a little longer, until the golden dome is open and gleaming. Besides, my actual mission was to photograph the Christmas lights on the City and County building and the ice rink at Skyline Park so being able to get reacquainted with the capitol building at sunset was just a pleasant bonus. Cheers!