303km (188 miles) S of Edmonton, 788km (490 miles) W of Regina, 512km (318 miles) NW of Great Falls
Calgary dates only from the summer of 1875, when a detachment of the Northwest Mounted Police reached the confluence of the Bow and Elbow rivers. The solid log fort they built had attracted 600 settlers by the end of the year. Gradually, the lush prairie lands around the settlement drew tremendous beef herds, many of them from overgrazed U.S. ranches in the south. Calgary grew into a cattle metropolis and a large meatpacking center. When World War II ended, the placid city numbered barely 100,000.
The oil boom erupted in the late 1960s, and in one decade the pace and complexion of the city changed utterly. In 1978 alone, C$1 billion worth of construction was added to the skyline, creating office high rises, hotel blocks, walkways, and shopping centers so fast even locals weren't sure what was around the corner. In the mid-1990s, the oil market heated up again, and Alberta's pro-business political climate tempted national companies to build their headquarters here.
In February 1988, Calgary was the site of the Winter Olympics, giving it the opportunity to roll out the welcome mat on a truly international scale. The city outdid itself in hospitality, erecting a whole network of facilities, including the Canada Olympic Park, by the Trans-Canada Highway, some 15 minutes west of downtown.
Calgary (pop. 970,000) has an imposing skyline boasting dozens of business towers topping 40 stories. Despite this, the city doesn't seem urban. With its many parks and convivial populace, Calgary retains the atmosphere of a much smaller, friendlier town.
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