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4 Great Inventions That Came From Denver

Dec 28th, 2020

Inventions both large and small make up every part of our daily lives. Heating and air conditioning keeps us warm and cool during the changing seasons, vehicles cut weeks of travel to just a few hours, medicine keeps us healthier for longer and technology allows us to instantly connect with people thousands of miles away. Even tiny inventions like the fork or, thank goodness, toilet paper had to be thought of and brought into existence by someone, and we’re all the better because of it.

Great minds all over the world have given us everything we have today. Even Denver has had some pretty significant inventors and inventions originate right from this very city! 

Here are some of the great inventions that Denver gave to the world. How many of them have you used?


Inventions that came from Denver


It’s a little tricky to pinpoint the exact time and place where the cheeseburger was first assembled, but we can find the first time the cheeseburger legally came into existence.

On March 5, 1935, Humpty Dumpty Barrel Restaurant owner Louis E. Ballast trademarked the cheeseburger at his downtown Denver restaurant. While the restaurant is no longer there, there is still a very official stone marker which declares the spot as the birthplace of our favorite go-to burger. 

“On this site in 1935,” the monument reads, “Louis E. Ballast created the cheeseburger.” And, well, it doesn't get much more official than that. Humpty Dumpty Barrel Restaurant was also Colorado’s first drive-in spot, too, which is enough to place the location and name firmly in Colorado’s cultural history books. 

Christmas lights

If you’ve ever experienced Christmas in the United States, then you’re certainly aware that a significant portion of festive decorations tends to be displayed outdoors in the form of a few thousand Christmas lights. 

Outdoor Christmas lights have become such a large part of our holiday decorations that we have entire competitions over who can do it best. Neighborhoods gain notoriety for their festive features and entire towns have built reputations on grandiose light displays. It’s a pretty big deal!

All this festive tradition started in the early 20th century right here in Denver. In 1907, shopkeepers in the 16th Street Mall in Downtown Denver wanted to add a bit of festive cheer to the street in front of the stores, so they replaced all the streetlights with green and red bulbs! The colored lights were a hit, but outdoor Christmas lights as we know them today came from a much more humble beginning. 

In true Christmas fashion, the story of Christmas lights starts with a tale of love, family and spreading the Christmas cheer. An electrician named D.D. Sturgeon had the bright idea (literally) to dip light bulbs in paint and string them up around a tree outside his son’s window. His son was too sick to leave his bed and couldn’t join his family downstairs for Christmas, so Sturgeon wanted to bring the 10-year-old some Christmas cheer from outside his window. 

Sturgeon’s neighbors loved the colorful display, and when the Denver Post reported on it, so did visitors from all around the area. 

Many believe this to be the first outdoor illuminated Christmas tree and, thanks to D.D. Sturgeon, people have enjoyed this glittering tradition ever since.

Wheel clamps

This is more of an annoyance than anything, but it’s thanks to a Denver violinist that the notorious wheel clamp was invented, putting double-parkers in bad moods since 1944. 

The Denver Boot, as it’s also called, was invented by Frank Marugg, a violinist with the Denver Symphony Orchestra, in 1944 and patented in 1958

Back then it was called the “auto immobiliser” and was designed to help the many policemen of Denver solve the city’s frequent illegal parking issues. Rather than having to tow the offending cars and pay for associated damages, the police could slap on the clamp and call it a day. In the first month of its use, the Denver Police Department collected over $18,000 in fines, equaling to about $171,794 today! 

Moral of the story, watch where you park in Denver, folks!

Recyclable aluminum cans

Denver isn’t just home to MillerCoors beer, but it’s also home to the beer can that revolutionized the packaged goods industry. 

In 1959, the Coors Golden brewery introduced a new aluminum can that was made from just two pieces of aluminum: one large piece that made the bottom and sides, and a separate, smaller piece that formed the top. Unlike the old tin cans that were more expensive and left a metallic aftertaste, this two-piece aluminum can cut assembly time, material costs and, most of all, could be recycled. 

If you want to visit the place where this all started, head over to Golden, Colorado for a Coors Brewery tour. It’s just half an hour from our Englewood CO apartments!

If you live in our luxury Denver apartments and have used any of these inventions, then you should feel extra proud about living in your city! Who knows, maybe you’ll be Denver’s next great inventor!


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Featured photo courtesy Pixabay/Free-Photos.

Author of Article

Colleen Ford is a South African who now lives in Spokane, Washington. She loves to travel, camp (in warm weather) and bake.

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