Originally Posted by DizzyEdge
But it just seems so much more vibrant that Calgary, even though the city proper is 1/2 a million people (to be fair, the wider metro area is 2.5 million).
This isn't a "to be fair" comment. THIS IS THE WHOLE ISSUE.
Denver is 2.5 larger than Calgary, period. It's the same reason Vancouver and Montreal feel much larger and more vibrant than Calgary - it's because they are several times our size.
"City proper" is a mostly meaningless measure that only affects property tax calculations and elections.
I don't have anything constructive to add at the moment, but don't underestimate the Unicity effect - it's very easy to compare Calgary to "smaller" cities all while missing out their huge population bases.
It's like the hypothetical situation where Airdrie was a city of 2 million people, separated from Calgary proper by a 4 lane freeway. Something tells me we'd have a larger downtown, with taller high-rises, and a lot more activity.
That being said, what's Denver like after office hours? I find most large US cities have even less activity after hours in their core than we do, because everyone flees to the suburbs which are much further away than in Calgary. But I've never spent much time in Denver unfortunately. To me, that's a huge measure of vibrancy.