Apollo Hall opened soon after the city's founding in 1859 and staged many plays for eager settlers. In the 1880s Horace Tabor built Denver's first opera house. After the start of the 20th century, city leaders embarked on a city beautification program that created many of the city's parks, parkways, museums, and the Municipal Auditorium, which was home to the 1908 Democratic National Convention and is now known as the Ellie Caulkins Opera House. Denver and the metropolitan areas around it continued to support culture. In 1988, voters in the Denver Metropolitan Area approved the Scientific and Cultural Facilities Tax (commonly known as SCFD), a 0.1% (1 cent per $10) sales tax that contributes money to various cultural and scientific facilities and organizations throughout the Metro area. The tax was renewed by voters in 1994 and 2004 and allows the SCFD to operate until 2018.
Denver is in the center of the Front Range Urban Corridor, between the Rocky Mountains to the west and the High Plains to the east. Denver's topography consists of plains in the city center with hilly areas to the north, west and south. According to the United States Census Bureau the city has a total area of 155 square miles (401 km2), of which 153 square miles (396 km2) is land and 1.6 square miles (4.1 km2) (1.1%) is water. The City and County of Denver is surrounded by only three other counties: Adams County to the north and east, Arapahoe County to the south and east, and Jefferson County to the west.