The City of Fort Collins, a Home Rule Municipality situated on the Cache la Poudre River along the Colorado Front Range, is the county seat and most populous city of Larimer County, Colorado, United States. Fort Collins is located north of the Colorado State Capitol in Denver. With an estimated 2006 population of 129,467, it is the fifth most populous city in Colorado. Fort Collins is a large college town, home to Colorado State University. It was named Money magazine's Best Place to Live 2006.
Settlers began arriving in the vicinity of the fort nearly immediately. The fort was decommissioned in 1867. The original fort site is now adjacent to the present historic "Old Town" portion of the city. The first school and church opened in 1866, and the town was platted in 1867. The civilian population of Fort Collins, led by local businessman Joseph Mason, led an effort to relocate the county seat to Fort Collins from LaPorte, and they were successful in 1868.
The city's first population boom came in 1872, with the establishment of an agricultural colony. Hundreds of settlers arrived, developing lots just south of the original Old Town. Tension between new settlers and earlier inhabitants led to political divisions in the new town, which was incorporated in 1873. The first classes at the new state agricultural college were held in 1870.
The 1880s saw the construction of a number of elegant homes and commercial buildings and the growth of a distinctive identity for Fort Collins. Stone quarrying, sugar beet farming, and the slaughter of sheep were among the area's earliest industries. Beet tops, an industry supported by the College and its associated agricultural experiment station, proved to be an excellent and abundant food for local sheep, and by the early 1900s the area was being referred to as the "Lamb feeding capital of the world." In 1901 the Great Western sugar processing plant was built in the city.
Although the city was affected by the Great Depression and simultaneous drought, it nevertheless experienced slow and steady growth throughout the early part of the twentieth century. During the decade following World War II, the population doubled and an era of economic prosperity occurred. Old buildings were razed to make way for new, modern structures. Along with revitalization came many changes, including the closing of the Great Western sugar factory in 1955, and a new city charter, adopting a council-manager form of government in 1954. Similarly, Colorado State University's enrollment doubled during the 1960s, making it the city's primary economic force by the end of the century. Fort Collins gained a reputation as a very conservative city in the twentieth century, with a prohibition of alcoholic beverages, a contentious political issue in the town's early decades, being retained from the late 1890s until student activism helped bring it to an end in 1969. During that same period, civil rights activism and anti-war disturbances heightened tensions in the city, including the burning of several buildings on the CSU campus.
During the late 20th century, Fort Collins expanded rapidly to the south, adding new development, including several regional malls. Management of city growth patterns became a political priority during the 1980s, as well as the revitalization of Fort Collins' Old Town with the creation of a Downtown Development Authority.
In 2006, Money ranked Fort Collins as the best place to live in America, proclaiming that "great schools, low crime, good jobs in a high-tech economy and a fantastic outdoor life make Fort Collins No. 1." Fort Collins continues to grow in population at a measured pace, with competition from other development in northern Colorado, debate over future growth patterns and town and gown relations emerging as dominant local issues in the early 21st century.
For more information on local history see the Fort Collins Museum and Discovery Science Center's local historical archives.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 47.1 square miles (122.1 km²), of which, 46.5 square miles (120.5 km²) of it is land and 0.6 square miles (1.6 km²) of it (1.27%) is water.
The city experiences about 296 days of sunshine per year and 22 days with 90° + weather. The average temperature in July is 71.2°. Annual snowfall averages , and the snow generally melts within a few days. Average precipitation overall is about 15 inches. The Cache La Poudre River and Spring Creek (Colorado) run through Fort Collins.
As of the census of 2000, there were 118,652 people, 45,882 households, and 25,785 families residing in the city. This was an increase from 108,905 in 1998, 87,491 in 1990, 64,092 in 1980, 43,337 in 1970, 14,937 in 1950, and 8,755 in 1920. The metropolitan statistical area (MSA) includes Loveland. When this city is included, the population increases to 251,494 for 2000. The population density was 2,549.3 people per square mile (984.4/km²). There were 47,755 housing units at an average density of 1,026.0/sq mi (396.2/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 82.4% White, 3.01% Black or African American, 0.60% Native American, 2.48% Asian, 0.12% Pacific Islander, 3.61% from other races, and 2.53% from two or more races. 10.79% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
In 2000, there were 45,882 households out of which 29.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 44.9% were married couples living together, 7.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 43.8% were non-families. 26.0% of all households were made up of individuals and 5.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.45 and the average family size was 3.01.
In the city the population was spread out with 21.5% under the age of 18, 22.1% from 18 to 24, 31.5% from 25 to 44, 17.0% from 45 to 64, and 7.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 28 years. For every 100 females there were 100.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 99.7 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $44,459, and the median income for a family was $59,332. Males had a median income of $40,856 versus $28,385 for females. The per capita income for the city was $22,133. About 5.5% of families and 14.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 8.3% of those under age 18 and 5.8% of those age 65 or over.
|District 1||Ben Manvel|
|District 2||Lisa Poppaw|
|District 3||Diggs Brown|
|District 4||Wade Troxell|
|District 5|| Kelly Ohlson,|
Mayor Pro Tem
|District 6||David Roy|
Fort Collins has a council-manager form of government. The mayor, who serves a two-year term and stands for election in municipal elections held in April of odd-numbered years, presides over a seven member City Council. The current mayor of Fort Collins is Doug Hutchinson, first elected in April 2005. The six remaining council members are elected from districts for staggered four-year terms; even-numbered districts are up for election in April 2007 and odd-numbered districts in April 2009.
Fort Collins is the largest city in Colorado's predominantly rural 4th Congressional district, and is represented in Congress by Representative Marilyn Musgrave (Republican). On the state level, the city lies in the 14th district of the Colorado Senate, represented by Bob Bacon and is split between the 52nd and 53rd districts of the Colorado House of Representatives, represented by John Kefalas and Randy Fischer, respectively. All three of Fort Collins' state legislators are Democrats. Fort Collins is additionally the county seat of Larimer County, and houses county offices and courts.
Much of Fort Collins' culture is centered on the students of Colorado State University. Driven by a large college-age demographic, the city has a thriving local music circuit, and is home to a number of well-recognized microbreweries. Old Town, a historic downtown shopping district, hosts a number of large festivals each year. For example, the New West Fest occurs in late summer, featuring local cuisine, music, and businesses. The Fort Collins Lincoln Center is home to the Fort Collins Symphony Orchestra and regularly attracts national touring companies of Broadway plays. Beyond the city limits, the Fort Collins Balloon Festival attracts hot air balloon enthusiasts from around the world.
There is a thriving beer culture in the city. There are three microbreweries, the New Belgium Brewing Company, the Odell Brewing Company, and the Fort Collins Brewery New Belgium is the largest of the local craft-breweries, with national distribution from California to states east of the Mississippi. The largest brewery in America, Anheuser-Busch, also has a brewery in the city. There are several brewpubs, including the original C.B. & Potts Restaurant and its Big Horn Brewery and CooperSmith's Pub & Brewing, a local mainstay since 1989. The Colorado Brewer's Festival is held in late June annually in Fort Collins. The outdoor event is held in Fort Collins' old town area and features beers from as many as 45 brewers from the state of Colorado and averages around 30,000 attendees.
The principal venue for the performing arts in Fort Collins is Lincoln Center, 417 W. Magnolia St., at Meldrum Street. Built in 1978, the center includes the 1,180-seat Performance Hall and the 220-seat Mini-Theatre, as well as four exhibit galleries and an outdoor sculpture and performance garden. It is home to many local arts groups, including the Fort Collins Symphony, Opera Fort Collins, Canyon Concert Ballet, Larimer Chorale, Youth Orchestra of the Rockies, OpenStage Theatre, Foothills Pops Band and the Fort Collins Children’s Theatre. Concert, dance, children’s, and travel film series are presented annually. The center is wheelchair accessible and has an infrared sound system for the hearing impaired. Ticket prices vary considerably, but children’s programs are often free or less than $10, and big name acts and Broadway shows are $18 to $36. The center hosts nearly 1,750 events each year.
The Fort Collins Museum, established in 1941, is a regional center focusing on the culture and history of Fort Collins and the surrounding area. The Fort Collins Museum houses over 30,000 artifacts and features temporary and permanent exhibits, on-going educational programs and events, and is home to four historic structures located in the outdoor Heritage Courtyard.
Scene Magazine is a long-time entertainment monthly serving several regional cities. Swift Newspapers introduced NEXTnc, a Northern Colorado weekly entertainment and lifestyles newspaper in March 2006. Rocky Mountain Parent Magazine and Parent Pages are niche publications serving Fort Collins among other northern Colorado community families.
Colorado State University funds a student-run radio station that focuses on underground and local music, KCSU 90.5 FM Public Radio for the Front Range operates a volunteer-based radio station, KRFC 88.9 FM
No major television stations broadcast from Fort Collins. CNN Headline News used to provide local news to Fort Collins, but no longer does. City Cable 14 is the local government access channel, and broadcasts city and county meetings, as well as studio-produced local programming. Poudre School District and Colorado State University each have public access stations as well. There is also a Fort Collins Public Access Network (PAN) station, Channel 97 on Comcast, which broadcast 24 hours a day.
K-12 public education is provided through Poudre School District, the second-largest employer in Fort Collins after Colorado State University. Fort Collins is home to four major high schools and several charter schools with Junior High and High School grades. They include Fort Collins High School, Rocky Mountain High School, Poudre High School, Fossil Ridge High School, Centennial High School, Polaris School for Expeditionary Learning Outward Bound and the Peak School, a small alternative high school that serves at-risk youths [www.psdschools.org/schools/peak/], Ridgeview Classical Schools, and Liberty Common School.
The Poudre School District is also home to eleven junior high schools. Among the list are Kinard Core Knowledge, home to the core knowledge from as well as sixth through ninth grade classes, Mountain View, a small alternative junior high, and Lincoln Junior High IB World School, home to the IB program. While some schools may stand out for their particular programs the teachers of Poudre School District also excel as leaders in the educational community, challenging staff and students to find new ways of learning, incorporating the environment around them into the classroom.
Excellence in the classroom foils down further into the elementary schools. PSD is home to thirty-two elementary schools. The elementary schools range from neighborhood schools, specialized schools, core knowledge programs and the IB program. Among the schools housing the core knowledge program are Moore Core Knowledge, O'Dea Core Knowledge, Traut Core Knowledge and Zach Core Knowledge. Bennett IB World School, Dunn IB World School and McGraw IB World School house the IB program. In addition, PSD is home to a bilingual educational experience at Harris Bilingual. Other schools with an entrance selection include the Lab School and Traut Core Knowledge.
Colorado State University heads up the choices in higher education. Front Range Community College also maintains a campus in the city, and grants Associate's degrees in arts, science, general studies, and applied science. The college offers 17 high school vocational programs and more than 90 continuing education classes. Additionally, the University of Phoenix and Regis also maintain satellite campuses here.
The Fort Collins Public Library was established in 1900, the sixth public library in the state. The library maintains the Barton Early Childhood Center and, in partnership with Front Range Community College, the Harmony Library. The library also participates in innovative cooperative projects with the local school district and Colorado State University. The library holds about 270,000 items and has a special local history archive.
Fort Collins has a range of research institutes. Facilities are maintained by the Centers for Disease Control Division of Vector-Born Infectious Diseases, the Center for Advanced Technology and the Colorado Water Resource Research Institute. Other facilities include the Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere, the Institute for Scientific Computing, the U.S. Forest Service Experimental Station, the National Seed Storage Laboratory, and the U.S.D.A. Crops Research Laboratory.
The largest employers of Fort Collins residents at the turn of the century were the following:
Since that time, the Celestica factory has shut down and Agilent has cut its workforce by about 350 people. Also, other companies, such as AMD and Intel, have moved in and added to the high-tech work force.
The Fort Collins Economic Development Corporation supports existing employers and recruits new ones to the city. It assists local companies to grow and expand and, in partnership with Colorado State University, encourages technology transfer to nurture local start-up companies. Fort Collins can negotiate with individual taxpayers who have qualifying new business facilities an incentive payment equal to not more than the amount of the increase in property tax liability over pre-enterprise zone levels; and a refund of local sales taxes on purchases of equipment, machinery tools, or supplies used in the taxpayer's business in the Enterprise Zone.
Fort Collins' downtown streets form a grid with Interstate 25 running north and south on the east side of the city. U.S. Highway 287 becomes College Avenue inside the city and is the busiest street; It runs north and south, effectively bisecting the city.
The city bus system, known as Transfort, operates more than a dozen routes throughout Fort Collins Monday through Saturday, except major holidays. Most routes run from about 5:30am to 6:30pm, and additional runs are made, including some on Sundays, when CSU is in session. All buses have bike racks. There are fares for adults, for seniors 60 and older and those with disabilities; youths 17 and under ride free.
Taxi service is provided 24 hours a day by Shamrock Yellow Cab. Bicycling is a popular and viable means of transportation in Fort Collins. Just about the only place you can’t ride is College Avenue (Highway 287). There are more than of designated bikeways in Fort Collins, including the Spring Creek and Poudre River Trails, both paved. There’s also a dirt trail, the Foothills Trail, parallel to Horsetooth Reservoir from Dixon Reservoir north to Campeau Open Space and Michaud Lane.
Fort Collins also once had a trolley service with three branches from the intersection of Mountain and College Avenues. It was torn out after ceasing to be profitable in 1951. Currently, the Mountain Avenue branch has been reconstructed and provides weekend and holiday service.