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Mayor Robert Speer was an entrepreneur turned politician who influenced much of the public services in Denver. Although he was originally from Pennsylvania, Speer moved to Denver to recover from tuberculosis in 1878. After improving his health, Speer began working at the Fischer store and even dabbled in real estate. In 1884, he became the city clerk of Denver and in 1885, President Grover Cleveland appointed Speer as Denver postmaster. A career in politics fostered many acquaintances, especially with city workers and people in city utilities. Speer was appointed to Denver Fire and Police Board in 1891 and became head of the Board of Public Works in 1901.

Even in the late 1800s, the quality of the city government of Denver was unstable. State intervention and efforts to create an established Denver led to a charter in 1902. Article XX of the Colorado Constitution unified the city of Denver with several towns around the area with a unified set of ground rules. Robert Speer became mayor in 1904, serving from 1904 to 1912 and from 1916 to 1918. Although his reign as mayor had controversies and bred many adversaries, Speer provided the foundation on which to build an efficient city. Speer supported city planning and an urban architectural movement called “City Beautiful”. The movement led to park building, paved roads, sidewalks, trees and an organization in infrastructure.

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