One of the first planned communities in the United States, Greeley, Colorado, was founded in 1870 through the patronage of journalist Horace Greeley. However, the famous newspaperman is said to have visited his namesake city only once. This processing and agricultural center near the Cache la Poudre River was first incorporated in 1885; since then, the Weld County city has grown to accommodate a population of nearly 90,000 people.
ECONOMY AND INDUSTRIES
Greeley's diverse industries and especially its agribusiness, which produces livestock, sugar beets and potatoes, give the city a high degree of economic stability. Major employers include the Swift and Co. beef-processing plant, North Colorado Medical Center, and the state government of Colorado, which maintains the University of Northern Colorado.
Additionally, the county's booming oil and natural gas industry contributes more than $625 million to the Greeley economy.
Greeley is home to two institutions of higher learning:
- University of Northern Colorado: This major university educates more than 11,500 undergraduate students and 1,500 graduate students.
- Aims Community College: This college is located on West 20th Street and offers more than 130 degree and certificate programs in such areas as allied health, aviation, computer information systems, horticulture and landscape technologies, visual performing arts, and ethnic studies.
NEIGHBORHOODS AND DISTRICTS
The National Trust Main Street Center in downtown Greeley is a wide-ranging commercial district renewal plan that has been successfully implemented in other towns and cities in the nation. The revitalization effort is part of the city's larger goal to promote a positive view of the commercial district to encourage consumers and investors to shop, play, live, work, and invest in the Main Street district. This goal has been met through retail promotional activity, advertising, and special events.
Specifically, the project promotes the downtown area's historic buildings and pedestrian-friendly streets and focuses also on arranging attractive window displays, beautifying streets with furniture and signs, and sprucing up sidewalks and landscaping.
Some of Greeley's neighborhoods include:
- Cranford Historic Neighborhood, on the east side of town, is Greeley's oldest neighborhood. Cranford homes date back to 1918.
- Virginia Hills and Hillside are two of the more popular neighborhoods on the south side of Greeley.
- Covington Knolls on the west side is one of the most affluent neighborhoods in Greeley.
Greeley features several historic properties and museums:
- Established in the 1860s, Island Grove Regional Park features spacious lawns and a variety of facilities that run along the Cache la Poudre River. A picturesque and multipurpose outdoor event complex, Island Grove is set on 140 acres of open space.
- First opened in 1976 and named in honor of the nation's bicentennial and the state's centennial, Centennial Village is an outdoor museum that explores the settlement history of Greeley and Weld County from 1860 to 1920.
- Housed in an exquisite 1929 building that was formerly home to the Greeley Tribune newspaper offices, the Greeley History Museum features mini-exhibits and temporary exhibits that explore Greeley's earliest geological history through its development in the 1870s.
- Visitors are welcome to tour Meeker Home, a two-story adobe home named after Nathan Meeker that features Greeley's early history and Meeker's own family history. Meeker was a 19th-century editor of the New York Tribune, and he received support from fellow newspaperman Horace Greeley in starting a community in Greeley. Visitors who are interested in group tours of the house should call ahead.
- A number of additional open spaces, such as Swanson-Kiwanis Park, Fritz and Marjorie Ramseier Farm Park, and Franklin and Broadview Park, have undergone renovations to beautify the areas.
ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
Greeley has a very active downtown core, which offers many events, especially during the spring and summer months:
- Rio Grande Spring Concert Series begins in the middle of January and ends in early May.
- Art Walk, which begins in May and happens on the first Friday of every month, allows participants to explore the arts while they stroll through town. Some highlights include live music and sales and display of hand-woven rag rugs, porcelain and blown glass, abstract and watercolor paintings, jewelry, stone carvings and wood furniture.
- University of Northern Colorado/Greeley Jazz Festival presents internationally recognized jazz artists and features 300 college, high school and middle school big bands and jazz vocal groups. The event is the largest of its kind in the United States and accommodates 7,000 participants.
- Garden Show, held between April and June at the Madison and Main Gallery on 16th Street, features an abundance of art related to gardening, including sculpture, planters and floral paintings.
- Corleone's Concert Series, which runs from July through September at Corleone's Bar & Grill, features musicians such as The Clam Daddys, the Dave Dardine Project, Johnny Johnston and Mad Dog, and Mojambus.
- Friday Fest, which runs between June and July, offers a free Blues concert, food from downtown restaurants and vendors, and a massive beer garden. The event ends with the Arts Picnic Kick-Off concert in late July.
- Western Spirit, another event that takes place at the Madison and Main Gallery, celebrates western art with a remarkable presentation of sculpture, paintings and photography.
The Greeley Tribune is the city's daily newspaper.