DENVER — Denver International Airport is finally old enough to rent a car.
While it might be tough to imagine life in Denver before DIA, it’s actually one of the newest airports in the country. On Feb. 28, 1995, it replaced the aging Stapleton International Airport, paving the way for a new chapter in the Mile High City’s history.
In the years since, DIA has gotten a new hotel as well as a train connecting it to Union Station 25 miles away. When it opened, it was $2 billion over-budget, and “ridiculed by detractors as a $4.9 billion monument to boosterism and boondoggling.”
Today, the airport is still mired in some controversy. A project aimed at renovating the Great Hall is also way behind schedule and also overbudget. But along the way, its also been lauded for helping to spark the city’s growth.
YOUTUBE PLAYLIST: Watch 16 videos of 9NEWS' coverage of the DIA opening 25 years ago
9NEWS thanks the many folks who texted us tips, questions and memories of the airport. Your comments helped direct our storytelling leading up to the anniversary. Text DIA to 303-871-1491 for DIA conspiracies, bingo and a day-long adventure.
RELATED: Literally just 113 facts about DIA
How big is DIA, really?
The land is 53 square miles — making DIA bigger than the island of Manhattan. In fact, in terms of area owned by the airport, DIA is the second-largest in the world (behind King Fahd in Saudi Arabia).
If you want more size comparisons (including to European countries), read this article: bit.ly/2ukIgZx
But what about the tunnels?
Since it opened, DIA has been mired with conspiracy theories. After all, its mascot is a blue horse with laser eyes, and does it really need all those tunnels?
The answer to the second question, at least according to the airport, is yes. But, is that just what DIA wants you to think?!
Read our story about DIA's conspiracies and come up with your own conclusions: bit.ly/2SKXfVQ
Honestly, we just wanted an excuse to chat with Gary Shapiro ...
9NEWS Morning Show Anchor Gary Shapiro has had a long and distinguished journalism career. He's the recipient of Murrow Awards, and he's even flown to Poland.
But, an email about DIA coverage really piqued our attention: Apparently, Gary might have had the first of many beers sold at Denver's new airport.
So, we asked him about that, as well as what it was like to cover the opening of DIA 25 years ago. Read that interview here: bit.ly/37PHpNU
A trip back to a simpler time: 1995
We still miss Adele Arakawa, so it was absolutely delightful to watch her 1995 explainer videos about what to do at DIA. You might be angry about how cheap parking used to be, but you might also be happy to see how little the airport has changed.
Take a stroll down memory lane here: bit.ly/3bZ91DO
PHOTOS: A look at aviation in Denver
The last passenger at Stapleton
As you might guess, it was a ski bum. A ski bum who woke up to find himself inside of a totally empty airport.
This surreal story from 1995 is totally worth rewatching: http://bit.ly/39XvijE
Interactive timeline: The history of Denver International Airport
Denver International Airport opened in 1995, but its history predates that by more than a decade.
Learn about the twists and turns that accompanied the airport's construction here: http://bit.ly/32ePIBQ
Former Denver mayors Federico Pena and Wellington Webb were the key figures involved with getting Denver a new airport in the first place.
We spent 12 hours in DIA. Why? Honestly masochism. Your tips for getting through a long delay (especially because the bosses said drinking wasn't allowed) shaped the adventure.
Next time you find yourself at the airport with more time than you expected, we invite you to play DIA Bingo.
People who travel a lot might notice something: DIA's escalators seem to always be broken. Is there data that backs this up? What's going on?
The airport is basically its own little city. But, what happens to the stuff that's left over? It's actually pretty cool (and might warm your heart).
When DIA opened, Stapleton closed. You might be surprised about what this airport turned into. Gary Shapiro has a comparison between now and 25 years ago.
Did you miss any stories? No problem! You can binge watch our DIA coverage for free on ROKU, Apple TV and Fire TV.
Find out how here: Watch 9NEWS for free on ROKU, Apple TV, Fire TV
YOUTUBE PLAYLIST: Watch 9NEWS' 1995 coverage of DIA's grand opening