Denver Airport


How often do you think about Denver? As states go, Denver rarely draws much attention. For most people, a layover in the international airport might be the only time they think about the state. But the layover could be far more interesting than you ever expected.

The Denver International Airport is at the center of a number of fascinating theories. From the outside, it appears like pretty much any other international airport. A boring concrete slab, with long lines and long runways. But this airport is different.

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Construction began on Denver International Airport in the mid-1990s. It was a troubled construction process, affected by the local government’s poor planning and constant changes and tweaks to the design. Even when they tried an official opening in May 1994, the reporters called to the press conference were unimpressed. The supposedly-incredible automated baggage system had malfunctioned and threw clothes and possessions from the conveyor belt. Repeated delays and issues meant that the airport opened 16 months after the intended date. The entire project cost $4.8 billion, meaning the Denver Airport had exceeded its budget by over $2 billion. Immediately, people began asking questions about how this money had been spent.

The Denver International Airport was a project with many fathers. Local government officials and businessmen were all involved in the process, while 11,000 construction workers were hired. As with many complicated building projects, there was an informational disconnect, and few people knew the entirety of what was happening. Added to this, the general size of the airport seems strange. It covers an area of 35,000 acres. This is almost double that of the largest airport in the United States. Yet, it is only the six busiest airport in the country.

The fact the airport was replaced at all has even aroused suspicion. The Denver International Airport was built to replace the Stapleton International Airport, which had more runways but was reaching its maximum capacity. Stapleton had many issues. It was built too close to both a chemical weapons plant and to Denver city itself. The closure of Stapleton provided the government a chance to relocate the massive, sprawling airport structure to a far more remote stretch of what is – essentially – desert.

This leaves astute observers with a number of questions. How was the inflated budget actually spent? Why does the airport cover so much territory? Why was the construction process so complicated?

From a purely planning sense, the Denver International Airport has a number of quirks. It has been noted by many people that – when observed from an aerial perspective – the collection of runways is arranged in the shape of a swastika. Practically no other major world airport uses this arrangement. It should be noted that the arrangement is efficient and suitable for numerous weather conditions. But saving space hardly seems like a concern, especially given the amount of empty land available to the planners. When asked, airport representatives suggested that the shape resembled a pinwheel.

Additionally, investigators have noticed that the capstone placed at the airport in 1994 is rife with Masonic references. The Masons, long considered a secret society with members in many positions of importance and power, are not uncommonly associated with large building projects. But the capstone, placed to commemorate the building of the airport, displays the famed Masonic compass and square right in the center. Alongside the symbol are the names of two Masonic lodges that helped fund the project.

As well as the Masonic imagery and societies displayed on the capstone, the commemorative piece takes the time to thank an organization called the ‘New World Airport Commission.’ Again, airport officials have moved to dissuade comparisons to the famed New World Order. Instead, they suggest, the name is an oversight. It is in reference to a ‘New World Airport,’ placing Denver as an important international hub. They suggest that this is a minor misunderstanding. It is, however, complicated by those who point out that the numbers in the dedication date can be added together to reach 33, the highest rank in Masonry and an important number to the society. Taken together, these myriad mysteries generate both suspicion and interest.

One of the stranger theories relating to the airport concerns the issue of what lies beneath the site. Why was this particular place chosen? Why does it take up so much room? Is the airport designed to cover up something beneath?

The so-called technological improvements (such as the famously malfunctioning baggage handling machine) have proved to be busts. They delayed the opening and cost a fortune. According to one construction worker, however, the airport was actually behind schedule for a very different reason. He believed that there was far more work than might be visible from the surface. He recollected a five-story structure which delved down into the ground beneath the airport, linked together by a complex network of tunnels. It has since been suggested these tunnels might be storage facilities or fallout bunkers, or even potential FEMA camps waiting to be used. The official line, however, is that they function as part of the airport’s rail network.

But many of these theories are not apparent to those who are simply passing through Denver airport. This information is only available to those who conduct their own research. However, the strangest part of Denver airport is visible to any visitor. It would be remiss to discuss the mysteries of Denver International Airport and not mention the art.

The art placed in almost every international airport is intentionally bland. It is inoffensive, designed hardly to be noticed. Not in Denver. Visitors to Level 5 of the Jeppesen Terminal will immediately be struck by a series of murals, designed and painted by Leo Tanguma. Vibrant, colorful, and incredibly strange, the murals seem to imagine a post-apocalyptic future.

There are images of burning forests and crying children. There are many scenes of environmental destruction, as well as people gathering together to banish a faceless, evil seeming entity which represents the violence in the world. There are huge depictions of gas-mask wearing Nazi soldiers wielding swords and machine guns, positioned next to a quote from a child who was imprisoned at (and died in) the Auschwitz concentration camp.

Even outside the airport, away from the murals, there is a 32-foot high statue titled ‘Mustang.’ A rearing blue stallion, bulging with muscles and with burning eyes glowing red at all times of the day, the statue is far from the placid, reassuring art located in most airports. For some, it supposedly represents the fourth horseman of the apocalypse. Even stranger, the artist who created the piece came to an untimely end. Luis Jimenez, just before the piece was set to be completed, was killed when a large piece fell from its place and severed one of Luis’s arteries in his leg. The statue was then erected outside the airport.

The artwork assembled in the Denver International Airport is perhaps the most striking part of the entire complex. According to official sources, various pieces were selected through a competition process, designed and commissioned with the wherewithal of the local government and the man who used to be the Mayor of Denver.

Even if the artwork is striking, it raises the hair on the backs of many people’s necks and stirs the interest. Something, it seems, is happening in Denver. Exactly what, we might never know.

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