The History of Colorado Springs
Oh beautiful, for spacious skies
For amber waves of grain
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain
In 1893, poet Katherine Bates, stood on summit of Pikes Peak in Colorado Springs. Inspired by the amazing beauty of the surrounding mountains, she wrote those now famous words from “America the Beautiful.”
The history of Colorado Springs is indelibly linked to its natural beauty and elevation. Over the centuries, explorers and travelers were drawn to and inspired by the rugged scenery. The landscape and culture of Colorado Springs continues to drive explosive population growth. Colorado Springs is one of the hottest real estate markets in the country and ranks 6th on US News and World’s Report Best Places to Live list.
At an elevation of 6,035 feet, Colorado Springs has long been a popular tourism destination. In 1869, Civil War General William Jackson Palmer traveled to the Colorado Territory as a railroad surveyor. After seeing the beauty of valley below Pike’s Peak, General Palmer determined it was the perfect site for a resort town. He founded Fountain Colony, which was named Colorado Springs in 1879.
Even without a manufacturing base, Palmer planned a community destined to prosper. He used the amazing scenery, natural climate, and nearby mineral springs to attract wealthy residents, as well as capitalists, artists, writers, and inventors. He designed wide streets, brought in 10,000 trees for a vibrant, green city and built extravagant buildings in a European style.
The dry climate did make Colorado Springs a popular destination and the railroads made it easy for tourists to travel. It was especially attractive to those with weak lungs or tuberculosis, who sought sunshine, altitude, and mountain air to help their condition. In the 1880s and 1890s, approximately a third of Colorado Springs residents had tuberculous and there were 17 tuberculous treatment centers, or sanatoriums in the city.
The healthy climate and outdoor lifestyle were at the root of Colorado Spring’s early success and continue to drive its growth. After the discovery of gold in Cripple Creek in 1891, even more prosperity came to Colorado Springs. At that time, Colorado Springs may have had more millionaires per capita than any other city.
Entrepreneurs continue to build and diversify the Colorado Springs economy with art, colleges, military, high-tech companies, and the US Olympic headquarters. Even with the new industries, Palmer’s healthy, attractive city with abundant parks and trails, red sandstone rocks, and of course, Pikes Peak is still felt in the modern-day culture of Colorado Springs.
Today, Colorado Springs is home to nearly half a million people. Population growth has exploded over the past 60 years with no sign of slowing down. It has grown by nearly 17% since 2010 to become the second largest city in Colorado. Entirely new neighborhoods are being created as they city expands, yet it’s continued to retain a small-town feel.