Colorado Springs is a Home Rule Municipality that is the county seat and most populous city of El Paso County, Colorado, United States. Colorado Springs is located in South-Central Colorado, in the southern portion of the state. It is situated on Fountain Creek and is located south of the Colorado State Capitol in Denver. At 6,035 feet (1839 m) the city stands over one mile (1.6 km) above sea level, though some areas of the city are significantly higher and lower. Colorado Springs is situated near the base of one of the most famous American mountains, Pikes Peak, in the eastern edge of the Southern Rocky Mountains.
With a population of 416,427 as of the 2010 Census, it is the second most populous city in the state of Colorado, behind Denver, and the 41st most populous city in the United States, while the Colorado Springs Metropolitan Statistical Area had an estimated population of 645,613 in 2010. The city covers , making it Colorado's largest city in area. Colorado Springs was selected as the No. 1 Best Big City in "Best Places to Live" by Money magazine in 2006, and placed number one in Outsides 2009 list of America's Best Cities.
General Palmer, city founder
Statue of General William Palmer in front of Palmer High School.
William Jackson Palmer, a Civil War General (brevet) and Medal of Honor recipient, came to the Colorado Territory as a surveyor with the Kansas Pacific Railroad. He explored the area south of Denver searching for possible railroad routes for the Kansas Pacific to strategically occupy. Palmer favorably viewed the valley in the shadow of Pikes Peak as an ideal town site. Since he could not persuade the Kansas Pacific to follow the Arkansas River to Pueblo and from there north to Denver, Palmer secured legislation and funding to build the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad south from Denver with the declared intention of reaching Mexico City, Mexico. Palmer founded Colorado Springs on July 31, 1871, as the first destination served by his railroad. He had the intention of creating a high-quality resort community, and the infant town was soon nicknamed "Little London" because of the many English tourists and settlers who came, owing partly to Palmer's financial connections in England who provided the capital for his railroad, and partly to his associate Dr. William Bell who actively recruited both investors and settlers. The stunning mountain view from anywhere in the valley as well as the nearby Garden of the Gods made the city's location a natural choice.
Within two years, his flagship resort the Antlers Hotel opened, welcoming US and international travelers as well as health-savvy individuals seeking the high altitude, sunshine, and dry climate, and Palmer's visions of a thriving, quality resort town were coming true. Palmer's Denver & Rio Grande Railroad became a critical regional railroad, faithfully serving the city and propelling the railroad south toward Pueblo. He maintained his presence in the city's early days by making many grants or sales of land to civic institutions. Palmer and his wife saw Colorado Springs develop into one of the most popular travel destinations in the late 19th century United States.
The town of Palmer Lake, the Palmer Divide, and other more minor features are named after him, and a bronze sculpture of Palmer on a horse is prominently displayed downtown in front of Palmer High School, at the center of a busy intersection. To many residents who lived in Colorado Springs in the years since, Palmer became known as "the man on the iron horse", a fitting appellation because of his long association with the Rio Grande Railroad.
Old Colorado City and the Pikes Peak Gold Rush
Colorado Springs' present downtown location, where General Palmer first founded the city, was partly due to Palmer's dislike of nearby rough-and-ready Colorado City (now called Old Colorado City, and not to be confused with present-day Colorado City) and its many saloons. Palmer ensured his new planned city stayed alcohol free by buying a huge tract of land to the east of Colorado City. Legally, Colorado Springs stayed dry until the end of Prohibition in 1933, but practically, alcohol was readily available. Conveniently located druggists advertised whiskey, ale, stout and beer for "medicinal purposes."
In its earliest days of 1859 1860, Colorado City was a major hub for sending mining supplies to South Park, where a major strike in the Pike's Peak Gold Rush was found. After the Cripple Creek gold discovery in 1891, ore mills in Colorado City processed much of the gold ore at the Golden Cycle Mill using Palmer's railroads. The affluent, who made money from the gold rush and industry, did not stay in Colorado City but built their large houses in the undeveloped downtown area of Colorado Springs (i.e. Wood Ave). Early pictures show several large stone buildings like Colorado College, St. Mary's Church, the first Antlers Hotel, the library, and the county courthouse (pictured at right) sitting in large empty plains. This is unique during this period, to anticipate a city's civic infrastructure in stone with wide streets laid out before there was a population to justify the expense.
Colorado City remained the county seat of El Paso County until 1873, when the courthouse moved to Colorado Springs. Colorado City was the location of a 1903 labor strike that spread to Cripple Creek and eventually led to the Colorado Labor Wars.
W. S. Stratton, early benefactor
In 1891, Winfield Scott Stratton discovered and developed one of the richest gold mines on earth in the nearby Cripple Creek and Victor area, and was perhaps the most generous early contributor to those communities and to Colorado Springs.
After he made his fortune he declined to build a mansion as the other gold rush millionaires were doing; instead, in later years, he lived in a house in Colorado Springs he had built when he was a carpenter in pre-gold days.
In Colorado Springs, he funded the Myron Stratton Home for housing itinerant children and the elderly, donated land for City Hall, the Post Office, the Courthouse (which now houses the Pioneer Museum), and a park; he also greatly expanded the city's trolley car system and built the Mining Exchange building, and gave to all three communities in many other ways, great and small.
A publicity photo of Nikola Tesla
sitting in the Colorado Springs experimental station
with his "Magnifying transmitter" generating millions of volts.
As Stratton's generosity became known, he was also approached by many people looking for money, and he became reclusive and eccentric in his later years.
Spencer Penrose, early benefactor
Spencer Penrose also made his mark on Colorado Springs in its early years though not until two decades after its founding. Penrose started as a ladies-man and an adventurer. After making a fortune in the gold fields of nearby Cripple Creek in the 1890s, he married Julie Villiers Lewis McMillan, and settled down.
Penrose used his wealth to invest in other national mineral concerns and financed construction of the Broadmoor Hotel, the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, the Will Rogers Shrine of the Sun, the Pikes Peak Highway, what is now known as Penrose-St Francis Health Services, and established the El Pomar Foundation, which still oversees many of his contributions in Colorado Springs today.
End of the Colorado Gold Rush and the start of health tourism
The flow of gold and silver ebbed as the decades passed, and Colorado City's economic fortunes faded with it; the miners and those who processed the ore left or retired. Because of the healthy natural scenic beauty, mineral waters, and extremely dry climate, Colorado Springs became a tourist attraction and popular recuperation destination for tuberculosis patients. The healthy waters in Colorado Springs contained so much natural fluoride that some peoples teeth developed Colorado Stain. In 1909, Dr. Frederick McKay of Colorado Springs discovered the Colorado Stain connection and that a little fluoride added to water would prevent cavities, according to the permanent health exhibit at the Pioneers Museum. On June 14, 1950 Colorado Springs annexed Roswell which was founded in 1888 by coal miners and became a neighborhood. Other locations such as Austin Bluffs, Broadmoor, Woodman Valley, Pikeview, Papeton, Knob Hill, Ivywild, Stratton Meadows, Stratmoor, Elsmare, Cimarron Hills, Kelker, Stratmoor Hills, La Foret, Skinners, and Colorado City (now called Old Colorado City) became part of Colorado Springs. Old Colorado City is located on the west side of Colorado Springs and is a historic district and on the National Register of Historic Places. Its old Victorian brick buildings and main street currently offer several tourist, boutique, and antique shops.
Latter 20th century military boom
Colorado Springs saw its first military bases in 1942 shortly after Pearl Harbor was attacked. For several years the city had been trying to attract a military installation to boost its flagging economy. In 1941, the city purchased of what is now Fort Carson to try to lure a prospective Army installation. The U.S. Army established Camp Carson near the southern borders of the city in order to train and house troops in preparation for World War II. It was also during this time that the Army began using Colorado Springs Municipal Airport. It was renamed Peterson Field and used as a training base for heavy bombers (the airport and base still share parts of the flightline). Camp Hale was also established in 1942 in west-central Colorado to provide winter and mountain warfare training during World War II (WWII) for training in skiing, rock climbing, and cold weather survival skills. The armed ski corps in the US was based on the Ski warfare tactics of the Finnish army during the Winter War. Military units based in Camp Hale included the 10th Mountain Division (Actual birth place, not Ft Drum NY its current location), the 38th Regimental Combat Team, 99th Infantry Battalion, The Woman's Axillary Army Corp (WAAC), and soldiers from Fort Carson conducting mountain and winter warfare training exercises. Camp Hale held "about 400 of the most incorrigible members of Field Marshal Erwin Rommel's Afrika Corps" and later the camp was used by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to secretly train Tibetan Freedom Fighters resisting the Chinese takeover of Tibet in the 1950s and 60s. In July 1965, Camp Hale was deactivated and control of the lands returned to the Forest Service in 1966. What's left of the camp lay in ruins, foundations of bygone barracks laying strewn about, and its history, not washed away by the hands of time, holds onto its proof of existence with weatherproof metal signs dedicated in its remeberance dotting the side of the 10th Mountain Division Memorial Highway (US Highway 24) near the famous Climax Mine and Leadville, Colorado the Highest incorporated city in the US. The landscape is still breathtaking and many Ski Troopers returned and founded the nations Ski Industry in the 50's and 60's. As for Camp Carson, the Army expanded it in
a venture that increased growth in Colorado Springs and provided a significant area of industry for the city. Camp Carson was named for the Army scout General Christopher "Kit" Carson, who explored the vast western frontier during the 19th century. After World War II the military stepped away from the Springs, Camp Carson was declining and the military was activating and deactivating Peterson Field irregularly. That all changed when the Korean War erupted. Camp Carson, which had declined to only 600 soldiers, was revitalized along with many other parts of the Springs. In 1951, the United States Air Defense Command moved to Colorado Springs and opened Ent Air Force Base (named for Major General Uzal Girard Ent, commander of the Ninth Air Force during World War II).
Hi-res Kodachrome of downtown Colorado Springs, 1951.
After the Korean War, Peterson Field was renamed Peterson Air Force Base and was permanently activated. In 1954 Camp Carson became Fort Carson, Colorado Springs' first Army post. Later that same year, President Dwight D. Eisenhower selected Colorado Springs, out of 300 other sites around the nation, to be the site of the United States Air Force Academy. A new and growing Army post, an Air Force Base, and the Air Force's military academy together jump-started Colorado Springs' growth.
The military boom continued and in 1963, NORAD's main facility was built in Cheyenne Mountain. This placed NORAD directly next to Colorado Springs and permanently secured the city's military presence. During the Cold War the city greatly expanded due to increased revenue from various industries and the prevailing military presence in the city. In the mid 1970s, Ent Air Force Base was shut down and later converted into the United States Olympic Training Center. Military presence was further increased in 1983 with the founding of Falcon Air Force Base (later changed to Schriever Air Force Base), a base primarily tasked with missile defense and satellite control. Fort Carson and Peterson are still growing and continue to contribute to the city's growth. Air Force Space Command is located on Peterson AFB.
Pikes Peak, the Eastern-most 14er in the United States
Pulpit Rock, on the outskirts of the city
Ackerman Overlook near United States Air Force Academy off Interstate 25 in Colorado Springs is named for Jasper D. Ackerman (1896 1988), a banker and rancher.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 186.1 square miles (482.1 km ), of which 185.7 square miles (481.1 km ) is land and 0.4 square mile (1.0 km ) (0.21%) is water.
Colorado Springs features a semi-arid climate (K ppen BSk). The city receives approximately of annual precipitation, which includes rain and snow. The average snowfall is . Due to unusually low precipitation for several years after flooding in 1999, Colorado Springs enacted lawn water restrictions in 2002. These were lifted in 2005.
January averages , and daytime highs range anywhere from single digits all the way up to low 60s. Summers are typically very warm with occasional heat waves and generally arid with episodic heavy rainfalls and large hail, with a July average of and highs reaching on 16 days per annum. The normal high temperatures during the day are in the mid-80s into the low 90s, with cooler days in the low 80s and upper 70s. Also very hot days can reach the mid to upper 90s relatively often. The summers in Colorado Springs are generally hot and dry, but afternoon thunderstorms are common especially in July and August when the city receives the majority of its annual rainfall.
Colorado Springs is just east of the Southern Rocky Mountains, which protects the city from alpine weather. The city is made up of the mountains to the west, the mountain divide to the north, high plains further east, and desert land to the south once you leave Fountain and approach Pueblo.
The winters in Colorado Springs range from mild to occasional bitter cold, with winter snow storms possible from September until May. However, the mountains just west of the city can receive very large amounts of snow, and can receive it any time of the year.
The hottest temperature ever recorded in Colorado Springs was on June 7, 1874, and the coldest temperature ever recorded was on January 20, 1883. Although the coldest average monthly high temperature of the year in Colorado Springs has historically been January, in recent years December has had a colder average monthly high temperature.
Colorado Springs is also one of the most active lightning strike areas in the United States. This natural phenomenon led Nikola Tesla to select Colorado Springs as the preferred location to build his lab and study electricity.
As of the April 2010 census, the population of Colorado Springs was 416,427 (47th most populous U.S. city), and the estimated population of the Colorado Springs Metropolitan Statistical Area was 617,714 in 2008 (84th most populous MSA), and the population of the Front Range Urban Corridor in Colorado was an estimated 4,166,855.
April 2010 census:
- White: 70.7%
Black or African American: 6.3%
- Native American: 0.5%
- Asian: 3.0%
- Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander: 0.2%
- Some other race: 5.2%
- Two or more races: 4.6%
- Hispanic or Latino (of any race): 16.1%; Mexican Americans made up 14.5% of the city's population.
As of the census of 2000 (limited only to the city limits and not including the very diverse Fort Carson area which many view as being a part of the Colorado Springs metropolitan area), there were 360,890 people, 141,516 households, and 93,117 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,942.9 people per square mile (750.2/km ). There were 148,690 housing units at an average density of 800.5 per square mile (309.1/km ). The racial makeup of the city was 80.66% White, 6.56% African American, 0.88% Native American, 2.82% Asian, 0.21% Pacific Islander, 5.01% from other races, and 3.85% from two or more races. 12.01% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 141,516 households out of which 34.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 51.5% were married couples living together, 10.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 34.2% were non-families. 27.0% of all households were made up of individuals and 6.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.50 and the average family size was 3.06.
In the city the population was spread out with 26.5% under the age of 18, 10.3% from 18 to 24, 32.8% from 25 to 44, 20.8% from 45 to 64, and 9.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 34 years. For every 100 females there were 97.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 95.2 males. (Note: City statistics do not include the demographic influence of five local military bases).
The median income for a household in the city was $45,081, and the median income for a family was $53,478. Males had a median income of $36,786 versus $26,427 for females. The per capita income for the city was $22,496. About 6.1% of families and 8.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 10.8% of those under age 18 and 7.2% of those age 65 or over.
On November 2, 2010 Colorado Springs voters adopted a strong mayor-council form of government. The City of Colorado Springs transitioned to the new system of government in 2011. Under the strong mayor-council system of government, the mayor is the chief executive and the city council is the legislative branch. The mayor is a full-time elected position and not a member of the city council. The city council has nine members, representing eight districts with one "at-large" seat. The mayor has veto authority, with the city council having the ability to override a mayoral veto by a 2/3 votes (6 out of 9).
In order to combat the nearly $38 million budget shortfall projected in 2010 caused by current economic conditions resulting in decreased sales taxes, a proposal to increase property taxes by $10 million over five years was approved for the November 2009 ballot by the city council on August 25, 2009. Issue 2C was voted down on November 3, 2009. An attempt to reform the city's Taxpayers Bill of Rights (TABOR) was considered but not put on the ballot. As a result the city reduced fire and police jobs, stopped paving roads, eliminated evening and weekend bus service, reduced public trash control, turned off city street lights, and asked residents to mow the grass in their neighborhood parks.
Colorado Springs' economy is driven primarily by the military, the high-tech industry, and tourism, in that order. The city is currently experiencing some growth mainly in the service sectors.
The defense industry plays a major role in the Colorado Springs economy, with some of the city's largest employers coming from the sector. A large segment of this industry is dedicated to the development and operation of various projects for missile defense. With its close ties to defense, the aerospace industry has also influenced the Colorado Springs economy. Although some defense corporations have left or downsized city campuses, a slight growth trend is still recorded.
Significant defense corporations in the city include Boeing, General Dynamics, Harris Corporation, SAIC, ITT, L-3 Communications, Lockheed Martin, and Northrop Grumman.
A large percentage of Colorado Springs' economy is still based on manufacturing high tech and complex electronic equipment. The high tech sector in the Colorado Springs area has decreased its overall presence over the past six years (from around 21,000 down to around 8,000), with notable reductions in information technology and complex electronic equipment. Due to a slowing in tourism, the high tech sector still remains second to the military in terms of total revenue generated and employment. Current trends project the high tech employment ratio will continue to decrease in the near future.
High tech corporations with connections to the city include:
- Verizon Business Software development Formerly WorldCom and MCI, has a fairly large engineering presence. At its peak during the mid-to-late 1990s, with over 5,000 employees and currently has nearly 1300 employees in 2008.
Hewlett-Packard Computing large sales, support, and SAN storage engineering center. The location was built by Digital Equipment Corporation, renamed Compaq in the 1998 acquisition of Digital, and finally renamed Hewlett-Packard after the 2002 merger. Nearly 1000 positions will be transferred out of the Springs
SNIA Computing home of the SNIA Technology Center
- Agilent Test and Measurement Manufacturing In 1999, Agilent was spun off from HP as an independent, publicly traded company.
Intel 2009 idled with 250 employees, down from 1000 employees in 2007 2011, facility now used for the centralized unemployment and social services complex.
- LSI Corporation Designs semiconductors and software that accelerate storage and networking in datacenters and mobile networks.
- Atmel Chip fabrication. Formerly Honeywell. Recently laid off 245 workers.
- Cypress Semiconductor Colorado Design Center Chip fabrication R&D site
- Sanmina-SCI Closing facility around December 2007 to January 2008 (800 jobs).
- Apple Inc. Facility sold to Sanmina-SCI in 1996.
According to the City's 2009 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, the top employers in the city are:
||Percentage of County Employment
||Peterson Air Force Base
||United States Air Force Academy
||Schriever Air Force Base
||Memorial Health System
||Colorado Springs School District 11
||Penrose-St. Francis Health Services
||Academy School District 20
||City of Colorado Springs
The United States Military plays a very important role in the city. Colorado Springs is home to both Army and Air Force bases. All these military installations border the city, to the north, south and east, excluding Schriever Air Force Base, which is located east of the city in El Paso County.
Fort Carson is the city's largest military base, and until mid-2006 was home to the 3d Armored Cavalry Regiment, which relocated to Fort Hood, Texas. As of 2009, Fort Carson is the home station of the 4th Infantry Division, which nearly doubles the base's population. Fort Carson is host to various training grounds for infantry, armor, and aviation units (specifically the OH-58 Kiowa Warrior). Fort Carson is also the headquarters of the second and third battalions of the 10th Special Forces Group.
Peterson Air Force Base
The Air Force has critical aspects of their service based at Colorado Springs which carry on missile defense operations and development. The Air Force bases a large section of the national missile defense operations here, with Peterson Air Force Base set to operate large sections of the program. Peterson AFB is currently the headquarters of the majority of Air Force Space Command and the operations half of Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Strategic Command (SMDC/ARSTRAT).
AFSPC Headquarters, Peterson AFB, Colorado Springs.
Peterson is also headquarters for the United States Northern Command (USNORTHCOM), one of the Unified Combatant Commands. USNORTHCOM directs all branches of the U.S. military operations in their area of responsibility which includes the continental United States, Alaska, Canada, and Mexico. In the event of national emergencies the President or Secretary of Defense can call upon USNORTHCOM for any required military assistance. Service members from every branch of the US Military are stationed at the command.
Schriever Air Force Base (formerly Falcon AFB)
Schriever Air Force Base is home to the 50th Space Wing, which controls warning, navigational, communications and spy satellites. It is also the home of the Space Warfare Center and the home for the 576th Flight Test Squadron. It is the location of the Global Positioning System (GPS) master control station and GPS Operations Center and the US Naval Observatory Alternate Master Clock, used to synchronize GPS satellite time. Schriever is also developing parts of national missile defense and runs parts of the annual wargames used by the nation's military.
NORAD and Cheyenne Mountain Air Station
The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), a component of America's missile defense system, is located in Cheyenne Mountain Air Station. When it was built at the height of the Cold War, NORAD caused some anxiety for the residents in and around Colorado Springs, who believed the installation would be a primary target during a nuclear attack. Although NORAD still operates today, it is primarily tasked with the tracking of ICBMs, and the military has recently decided to place Cheyenne Mountain's NORAD/NORTHCOM operations on warm standby and move operations to nearby Peterson Air Force Base.
Cadets in front of the Academy Chapel
United States Air Force Academy
The north end of the city is home to the vast United States Air Force Academy grounds, where cadets train to become officers in the Air Force. The campus is famous for its unique chapel and draws visitors year round. The Air Force sports programs belong to the Mountain West Conference.
In 2009, Colorado Springs reported 15 murders, 342 rapes, 525 robberies, 1,084 assaults, 3,305 burglaries, 10,340 larceny thefts, and 1,048 auto thefts. Colorado Springs also has gangs, mostly on the east, southeast, and south sides of the city. The East Side Crips (Dog City Crips) are on the east and southeast sides. The Ruthless Ass-Gangsters, another Crip gang, are located in the Prospect Lake area on the east side. The Watergate Crip Gang is another well known Crip set on the Southeast side of town. The Sure os are on the south side of the city. A large gang called the Los Meadows Varrio (Sure os) is located in the Stratton Meadows neighborhood on the south side. A large population of Bloods are also in Colorado Springs, on the east side and southeast side of the city. A known Blood gang in the city is the Neighborhood 45 Bloods on the southeast side. Another gang in Colorado Springs is the East Dale Street Locos, which are on the east side of the city. Because Referendum 2C for higher funding was not passed, the police have reduced some drug/gang surveillance, and prioritize some police calls, with property crimes having lower priority than others. Colorado Springs is also home to one of the chapters of the Sons of Silence Motorcycle Club, which has a history of criminal violence within its ranks.
Garden of the Gods With the city located at the base of the Rocky Mountains, and its many trails and parks, Colorado Springs is a popular destination for tourists seeking scenery, rock formations and other unique geological features, like Pikes Peak, Garden of the Gods park, Seven Falls, and Cave Of The Winds.
Colorado Springs has a variety of cultural, educational, and historical attractions including the Cheyenne Mountain Heritage Center, the ProRodeo Hall of Fame & Museum of the American Cowboy, the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, the Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum, the American Numismatic Association Money Museum, Peterson Air and Space Museum, and the United States Air Force Academy.
The Cultural Office of the Pikes Peak Region (COPPeR), located in downtown Colorado Springs, acts as an umbrella resource to support and advocate for the arts throughout the Pikes Peak Region. COPPeR operates a website called PeakRadar where organizations can post events happening around the city to boost community involvement and cultural awareness.
Colorado Springs is home to the United States Olympic Training Center and the headquarters of the United States Olympic Committee. In addition, a number of United States national federations for individual Olympic sports have their headquarters in Colorado Springs, including:
- United States Bobsled and Skeleton Federation
- United States Fencing Association
- United States Figure Skating Association
- USA Basketball
- USA Boxing
- USA Cycling
- USA Judo
- USA Hockey
- USA Swimming
- USA Shooting
- USA Table Tennis
- USA Triathlon
- USA Volleyball
- USA Wrestling
The city has a particularly long association with the sport of figure skating, having hosted the U.S. Figure Skating Championships 6 times and the World Figure Skating Championships 5 times. It is home to the World Figure Skating Museum and Hall of Fame and the Broadmoor Skating Club, a notable training center for the sport. In recent years, the World Arena has hosted skating events such as Skate America and the Four Continents Figure Skating Championships.