Located in El Paso County on the Monument and Fountain creeks, Colorado Springs has a population of more than 372,000. After gold was discovered at nearby Cripple Creek in the early 1890s, Colorado Springs city quickly grew into a commercial center; in the 20th century, the area became a hub for military and technological industries. The city is also a popular year-round health and tourism resort.
ECONOMY AND INDUSTRIES
After major computer and electronic communications manufacturers began moving into the Colorado Springs area in the 1980s, the city experienced a tremendous growth spurt. The current economy depends heavily on military-related industries. The city is home to Fort Carson, the city's largest military base and home station of the Army's Fourth Infantry Division; Schriever Air Force Base, which is in charge of the U.S. Department of Defense satellite system; Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Base, which houses the control center that detects aircraft, missile, or space attack against North America; and the Peterson Air Force Base, which contains the headquarters of the North American Air Defense Command and the U.S. Space Command.
First established in 1871 as a resort destination, Colorado Springs has maintained this image. Its outdoor recreational opportunities, spectacular scenery and fine hotels and resorts help make tourism the city's third-largest industry.
NEIGHBORHOODS AND DISTRICTS
Colorado has recently undertaken several redevelopment and revitalizatin projects to improve certain areas of the city. The Downtown Streetscape Project involved the design and renovation of drainage features, sidewalks, and curbs to improve the appearance of the downtown area. The project began with streetscape work on Tejon Street, which contains a number of popular dining and retail establishments. Revitalization efforts also focused on constructing a large animated fountain in Acacia Park called the Uncle Wilber Fountain.
The Lowell Project focused on the restoration and rehabilitation of Lowell Elementary School, located in the South Central Downtown area and originally built in 1891. The project also includes construction of residential apartments, lofts, residential housing, and retail and office space around the school. Reflecting the "New Urbanism" movement begun in the 1990s, restoration projects concentrated on landscaping common areas, keeping parking lots to a minimum, and situating public restaurants and amenities to encourage pedestrian activity and interaction among residents.
Other targeted areas for renewal included Gold Hill Mesa Township and the Pikes Peak region.
Colorado Springs features a number of museums and historic properties:
- Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum features historic artifacts, photographs, documents, and the stories about people who traveled to Pikes Peak during the 1859 "Pikes Peak or Bust" gold rush. Visitors can learn about the early development of Colorado City and El Paso County and the hardships of the frontier.
- May Natural History Museum is situated in a canyon close to Colorado Springs and features exhibits of famous giant tropical insects, including beetles, bird-eating tarantulas, stick insects, and thousands of butterflies and moths. The museum includes a Space Exploration Wing, which displays astounding photographs taken by planetary spacecraft during visits to Mars and Saturn.
- Built in 1873 and restored to its original Victorian style, McAllister House Museum re-creates the history of the Civil War-era McAllister family. The museum features Christmas Teas and Tours in December and Valentine's Day Teas and Tours in February.
Numerous attractions and points of interest showcase the city's scenery and historic role as ranch country:
- Academy Riding Stables offers guided horseback trail rides through the Garden of the Gods Park, which features 22 miles of trails with magnificent scenery. The trail rides allow visitors to admire wildlife, wildflowers, trees, and rock formations. Surrey rides, hay rides, and buggy rides are available with advance reservations.
- Adventures Out West features jeep tours of Pike National Forest, the Garden of the Gods, and two National Historic Districts.
- Aramark Pikes Peak offers tourists the opportunity to travel the Peaks Pike Highway, the world's highest toll road. Visitors first view Crystal Reservoir, where they can rent paddleboats, pan for gems, enjoy refreshments, and take in the stunning scenery. The next stop is Glen Cove, which has a restaurant and gift shop. The tour proceeds toward Summit House, where visitors can photograph the heights below and enjoy world-famous high-altitude donuts.
- Situated on 87,000 acres, Chico Basin Ranch offers educational, hands-on learning and recreation in a real cattle ranch environment. The ranch offers guests the opportunity to learn about ranching and participate in "ranch family" activities, which include moving herds and working, sorting, and feeding cattle.
Colorado Springs is home to several institutions of higher learning:
- Located on East Cache La Poudre Street, Colorado College offers more than 80 programs, including interdisciplinary study programs such as neuroscience, feminist and gender studies, Asian studies, environmental science, and history and philosophy.
- Boasting state-of-the-art facilities, including observatories, laboratories, and a library that holds more than 700,000 volumes, the United States Air Force Academy offers courses in basic sciences, engineering, social sciences, and humanities. The academy also offers interdisciplinary majors.
- Nazarene Bible College, situated on Academy Park Loop, offers degrees in ministry and lay ministry in addition to nondegree diplomas.
- Located on South Academy Road, Pikes Peak Community College has 125 programs of study and offers a number of associate degrees.
DID YOU KNOW?
- At the Western Museum of Mining & Industry and Pikes Peak Ghost Town Museum, you can learn the "wrist dexterity" needed to pan for gold.
- Colorado Springs was once called "City of Millionaires."
- A trip to the summit of Pikes Peak inspired Katharine Lee Bates to write "America the Beautiful."
- Shredded Wheat originated in Colorado Springs in the 1890s.
- Pikes Peak's shadows can extend as far as 50 miles.
- The design of the Pauline Chapel near the Broadmoor Hotel is modeled after the Vatican Chapel.
- The Cave of the Winds at Pikes Peak is 450 million years old.
- The Royal Gorge Bridge in nearby Canon City is the world's highest suspension bridge.
- Six presidents have been speakers at the U.S. Air Force Academy graduations in Colorado Springs: Kennedy, Nixon, Reagan, Bush Sr., Clinton and Bush Jr.
- Bob Womack discovered gold in Cripple Creek in 1878, sold his claim for $500 and died broke.
- The historic Gutmann Residence was built in 1922. Original resident Ferdinand Gutmann operated a pharmacy with the motto, "Remember, we don't sell liquors."
- J. J. Hagerman, who built the Hagerman Mansion in 1885, was one of many consumptives who came to Colorado Springs chasing a cure for tuberculosis.
- Pike's Peak was once hot molten rock 20 miles beneath the Earth's surface. It hardened and cooled a billion years ago and then pushed upward to form the peak.
- In 1858, Julia Archibald Holmes became the first woman to climb Pikes Peak. She was known as "Bloomer Girl" because of the bloomers she wore while climbing the mountain.
- Nikola Tesla, an important contributor to commercial electricity, had a research lab in Colorado Springs in 1899. He eventually left the area and the lab was torn down around 1905.
- Colorado Springs was selected as the No. 1 best big city in "Best Places to Live" by Money magazine in 2006.
- In 1879, Charles Elliott Perkins bought 240 acres of land, now the Garden of the Gods, for a summer home. He never built on it and instead left it in its natural state, open to the public.