Denver: Fast Facts March 23, 1998 Share 1 -- POPULATION: The seven-county metro area has a population of 2,085,000. Since 1993, the area's population has been growing at an average of 2,000 people per week -- supporting local boosters' claims that their city is one of the most livable in the U.S.HISTORY: Denver was born during the "Pikes Peak or Bust" gold rush of 1859. Though the discovery of gold transformed Denver into a boomtown, in its early years its hardy citizens had to survive two major fires, a flood, Indian attacks and even an invading force of Confederates from Texas. In its heyday, the lively saloons and gambling halls that lined its streets made it a mecca for fun-seeking travelers and revelers. Civic pride and a desire for respectability, however, overtook Denver around the turn of the century, a period when many of its beautiful mansions, tree-lined thoroughfares, public fountains and statues were built. This reborn, cosmopolitan Denver became known as the Queen City of the Plains. One of Denver's most historic districts, LoDo -- the local nickname for Lower Downtown -- has been completely restored in recent years and now sports some of the city's trendiest restaurants, shops, galleries and entertainment spots, many of which are located in LoDo's handsomely renovated red-brick period buildings.CLIMATE: Denver's weather belies its image as a chilly spot. In February, for instance, the average temperature is a mild 45 degrees -- warmer than St. Louis or New York. August temperatures average 85 degrees and comfortably low humidity. Spring and fall, when sunny Denver's temperatures are in the 60s and low 70s, are perfect times to soak up the beauty of the Botanic Gardens and the awesome scenery of the nearby mountains.TRANSPORTATION: The $4.3 billion state-of-the-art Denver airport opened in 1995. The facility has five full-service runways and a landing rate of 120 flights per hour in good weather -- 36% higher than the good-weather rate of 88 per hour at Stapleton, Denver's previous airport. Denver airport has the capacity to be expanded to 11 runways serving 110 million passengers per year. The Mile High City is also an important hub for intercity buses with more than 60 daily arrivals and departures. It is also on Amtrak's main east-west route, with three arrivals daily. In addition, visitors can get around town by a convenient light-rail system that started service in 1994 and is being expanded to serve the suburbs and the entire Denver metro area.