The City of Colorado Springs is a Home Rule Municipality that is the county seat and most populous city of El Paso County, Colorado, United States. At 372,437, it is the second most populous city in the State of Colorado and the 47th most populous city in the United States. This count differs significantly with the Colorado Department of Local Affairs' 2007 estimate of 402,417. In 2007 the Colorado Springs MSA had 609,096.
Colorado Springs is located just east of the geographic center of the state and south of the Colorado State Capitol in Denver. At 6,035 feet (1839 meters) Colorado Springs sits over one mile above sea level, though some areas of the city are significantly higher. The city is situated near the base of one of the most famous American mountains, Pikes Peak, at the eastern edge of the southern Rocky Mountains. Colorado Springs was selected as the No. 1 Best Big City in "Best Places to Live" by Money magazine in 2006.
Today, Colorado Springs has many features of a modern urban area, such as parks, bike trails, urban open-area spaces, business and commerce, theatres and other entertainment. It was first established as a posh resort community, though the older mining supply center of Colorado City (now Old Colorado City) was merged later, and the tourist industry has remained strong and offers many activities and attractions. In July 2006, Money magazine ranked Colorado Springs the best place to live in the big city category, which includes cities with 300,000 or more people.
Colorado Springs is not exempt from the problems that typically plague cities that experience tremendous growth: overcrowded roads and highways, crime, sprawl, and government budget issues. Many of the problems are indirectly or directly caused by the city's difficulty in coping with the large population growth experienced in the last 20 years and the annexing of the Banning Lewis Ranch area for 175,000 future residents. In 2004, the voters of Colorado Springs and El Paso County established the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority and adopted a 1% sales tax dedicated to improving the region's transportation infrastructure. Together with state funding for the Colorado Springs Metro Interstate Expansion (COSMIX)(2007 completion) and the I-25 interchange with Highway 16 (2008 completion), significant progress has been made since 2003 in addressing the transportation needs of the area. Currently the City is trying to overcome a $23.3 million budget gap created by falling sales taxes and rising expenses.
A large number of religious organizations such as Focus on the Family and churches make their headquarters here, particularly Evangelical Christians. For decades, several high-tech businesses have or once resided in the city, including a number of computer chip manufacturers from Intel, to the chip foundry INMOS in the 1980s, to Hewlett-Packard since the 1960s. The Mountain West Conference has its administrative headquarters in Colorado Springs.
Colorado Springs was founded in August 1871 by General William Palmer, with the intention of creating a high quality resort community, and was soon nicknamed "Little London" because of the many English tourists who came. Nearby Pikes Peak and the Garden of the Gods made the city's location a natural choice.
Within two years his flagship resort the Antlers Hotel opened, welcoming U.S. and international travelers as well as health-savvy individuals seeking the high altitude and dry climate, and Palmer's visions of a thriving, quality resort town were coming true. Soon after, he founded the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad, a critical regional railroad. 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 1800s United States.
The town of Palmer Lake and a geographic feature called the Palmer Divide (and other more minor features) are named after him, and a bronze sculpture of Palmer on a horse without its front legs raised (denoting a natural death and not one caused during battle or afterwards from being fatally wounded in battle), is prominently displayed downtown in front of Palmer High School, the center of a busy intersection.
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, the library, and the county courthouse sitting in large empty plains. This is unique during this period, to pre-build 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.
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.
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.
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.
The Army expanded Camp Carson, a venture that increased growth in Colorado Springs and provided a significant area of industry for the city. 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).
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 Air Force's military 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.
Colorado Springs is located at (38.863443, -104.791914).
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 186.1 square miles (482.1 km²), of which, 185.7 square miles (481.1 km²) of it is land and 0.4 square miles (1.0 km²) of it (0.21%) is water.
As of the census of 2000, 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/km²). There were 148,690 housing units at an average density of 800.5/sq mi (309.1/km²). 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 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.
Much of the tourism in the Springs is attracted to the surrounding natural features such as Pikes Peak. The city has numerous trails and parks due to its location next to the Rocky Mountains, making the city a popular destination for its scenery. With the mountains nearby, the Springs has also gained fame for its rock formations and other geological features.
In order to combat congestion the Colorado Department of Transportation is in the process of widening the Interstate 25 corridor throughout the city from four lanes (two in each direction) to six lanes. This project has officially been named COSMIX (Colorado Springs Metro Interstate Expansion) Ultimately, the plan is to make the interstate eight lanes through the city when funding becomes available. This plan is similar in nature to Denver's T-Rex expansion plan.
Several suggestions have been made to create a loop around the city though none have been implemented. The original plan to convert Powers Boulevard, a major eastside expressway, into a bypass for I-25 was abandoned, but is now being reconsidered by the city council amidst stringent opposition from a large developer responsible for the construction of a large commercial complex along the road. Easier access to the airport has also been suggested. Overall the new thoroughfares would include one (or two) loop freeways, a spur into the city connecting the main freeway and the loop, east-west expressway upgrades, and easier access to the Colorado Springs Airport.
Two additional grade separated interchanges are currently under construction in order to alleviate congestion at some of the city's worst intersections. Both the intersection at Powers and Woodmen and the intersection at Austin Bluffs and Union are being converted into grade separated interchanges. The former, when completed, will be a partial cloverleaf, and the latter will be an urban diamond. A third interchange is being considered at the intersection of Woodmen Road and Academy Boulevard (SH83).
In addition, there are plans to develop a "Front Range Toll Road", a privately-owned turnpike, which would begin south of Pueblo and end around Fort Collins. This toll road would allow rail and truck traffic to avoid the more highly travelled parts of I-25 along the Front Range. Initially, the project had support but has since been highly contested because of the need to condemn the land of many private citizens, through the use of eminent domain, to make room for the corridor.
Colorado Springs is served by the Colorado Springs Municipal Airport. In the state of Colorado, only Denver International has more passenger traffic. The airport has experienced a higher recovery rate in the post-9/11 era than the rest of the country and is in the process of expanding its maintenance facilities, taxiways, and runways to accommodate future growth. In 2005 it served approximately two million passengers.
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:
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.
Name Sport Founded League Venue
Minor league; Pacific Coast League
2004-Folded in 2006
This nullifies a popular Canadian claim that the 2008 IIHF World Championships in Quebec City, PQ and Halifax, NS will mark the first time this event is organized on the American continent.
Colorado Springs' economy is driven primarily by the military, the high-tech industry, and tourism, in that order. While the main force behind the city's economy is the military, the city is not completely dependent on it. The city is currently experiencing some growth mainly in the service sectors and has been identified as one of the nation's top ten fastest growing economies. Colorado Springs is also one of the nation's leaders in lender available housing, nearing its top record set in the late 1980s.
On January 17, 2007, Steve Fehl, an Analyst at the Pikes Peak Workforce Center announced that many of the better jobs being created in Colorado Springs are for service positions in upscale call centers for the insurance, support, and financial industries. These large businesses find the quality and quantity of available college educated workers an incentive to locate to the city. Mr. Fehl also believes Colorado Springs still remains a difficult market for job seekers outside the defense sector. With future growth in the defense sector expected when the approved funding is released to defense contractors, creating employment for those with active security clearances. This growth should offset some of the recent softening in information technology and complex electronic equipment manufacturing sectors.
Significant defense corporations in the city include:
Because of Colorado Springs’ central U.S. location, available reserve of highly educated workers, and business friendly climate; several companies have plans to either expand their current operations in Colorado Springs or have considered Colorado Springs as a competitive area for relocating or opening a business.
High tech corporations with connections to the city include:
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 US Military are stationed at the command.
In recent years, Colorado Springs has attracted a large influx of Evangelical Christians and Christian Organizations. At one time Colorado Springs was counted to be the national headquarters for 81 different religious organizations, earning the city the tongue-in-cheek nickname "the Evangelical Vatican". According to the 2006 DEX phone book, there are 84 separate categories under "churches" with hundreds of individual churches listed.
The city and surrounding areas also host hundreds of churches and synagogues of many faiths and denominations, including a mosque.
Religious groups with headquarters at Colorado Springs include:
Universities, colleges and special schools include:
The city's public schools are divided into several districts:
The city is a Council-Manager government, with a City Council and Mayor that meet regularly to approve budgets and projects, while the city manager deals with the day-to-day aspects of running the city.
Colorado Springs' sister city organization began when Colorado Springs became partners with Fujiyoshida. The torii gate erected to commemorate the relationship stands at the corner of Bijou Street and Nevada Avenue, and is one of the city's most recognizable landmarks. The torii gate, crisscrossed bridge and shrine, located in the median between Platte and Bijou Streets in downtown Colorado Springs, were a gift to Colorado Springs, erected in 1966 as a token of friendship between the two communities. A plaque near the torii gate states that "the purpose of the sister city relationship is to promote understanding between the people of our two countries and cities". The Fujiyoshida Student exchange program has become an annual event.
To strengthen relations between the two cities, the Colorado Springs Youth Symphony regularly invites the Taiko drummers from the city to participate in a joint concert in the Pikes Peak Center. The orchestra played in Bankstown, Australia, in 2002 and again in June 2006 as part of their tours to Australia and New Zealand.
Also, in 2006, the Bankstown TAP (Talent Advancement Program), performed with the Youth Symphony, and the Colorado Springs Children's Chorale, as a part of the annual In Harmony program.
A notable similarity between Colorado Springs and its sister cities are their geographic positions, three of the six cities being located near the base of a major mountain or range. San Digeo Chargers Wideout Vincent Jackson was born in Colorado Springs
The TV series Stargate SG-1 has several episodes which at least partially take place in Colorado Springs; additionally SGC is based out of nearby Cheyenne Mountain, and most of the team members are shown to reside in Colorado Springs. The new Julie Penrose Fountain and two Egyptian style obelisks (in background) located in the America the Beautiful park in Colorado Springs bears a remarkable resemblance to a Stargate.