At 6,035 feet (1,839 m) the city stands over 1 mile (1.6 km) above sea level. Colorado Springs is near the base of Pikes Peak, which rises 14,115 feet (4,302.31 m) above sea level on the eastern edge of the Southern Rocky Mountains. The city is the largest city north of Mexico above 6000 feet in elevation.
The Ute, Arapaho and Cheyenne peoples were the first recorded inhabiting the area which would become Colorado Springs. Part of the territory included in the United States' 1803 Louisiana Purchase, the current city area was designated part of the 1854 Kansas Territory. In 1859, after the first local settlement was established, it became part of the Jefferson Territory on October 24 and of El Paso County on November 28. Colorado City at the Front Range confluence of Fountain and Camp creeks was "formally organized on August13, 1859" during the Pikes Peak Gold Rush. It served as the capital of the Colorado Territory from November 5, 1861, until August 14, 1862, when the capital was moved to Golden, before it was finally moved to Denver in 1867. So many immigrants from England had settled in Colorado Springs by the early 1870s that Colorado Springs was locally referred to as "Little London." In 1871 the Colorado Springs Company laid out the towns of La Font (later called Manitou Springs) and Fountain Colony, upstream and downstream respectively, of Colorado City. Within a year, Fountain Colony was renamed Colorado Springs and officially incorporated. The El Paso County seat shifted from Colorado City in 1873 to the Town of Colorado Springs. On December 1, 1880, Colorado Springs expanded northward with two annexations.
The second period of annexations was during 1889–90, and included Seavey's Addition, West Colorado Springs, East End, and another North End addition. In 1891 the Broadmoor Land Company built the Broadmoor suburb, which included the Broadmoor Casino, and by December 12, 1895, the city had "four Mining Exchanges and 275 mining brokers." By 1898, the city was designated into quadrants by the north-south Cascade Avenue and the east-west Washington/Pikes Peak avenues.: 10
On October 1, 1981, the Broadmoor Addition, Cheyenne Canon, Ivywild, Skyway, and Stratton Meadows were annexed after the Colorado Supreme Court "overturned a district court decision that voided the annexation". Further annexations expanding the city include the Nielson Addition and Vineyard Commerce Park Annexation in September 2008.
Colorado Springs has many features of a modern urban area such as parks, bike trails, and open spaces. However, it is not exempt from problems that typically plague cities experiencing tremendous growth such as overcrowded roads and highways, crime, sprawl, and government budgetary issues. Many of the problems are indirectly or directly caused by the city's difficulty in coping with the large population growth experienced since 1997, and the annexation of the Banning Lewis Ranch area to accommodate further population growth of 175,000 future residents.
Colorado Springs has a cooler, dry-winter semi-arid climate (KöppenBSk), and its location just east of the Rocky Mountains affords it the rapid warming influence from chinook winds during winter but also subjects it to drastic day-to-day variability in weather conditions. The city has abundant sunshine year-round, averaging 243 sunny days per year, and receives approximately 16.5 inches (419 mm) of annual precipitation. Due to unusually low precipitation for several years after flooding in 1999, Colorado Springs enacted lawn water restrictions in 2002. These were lifted in 2005 but permanently reinstated in December 2019.
Colorado Springs is one of the most active lightning strike areas in the United States. This natural phenomenon led Nikola Tesla to select Colorado Springs as the preferred location to build his lab and study electricity.
December is typically the coldest month, averaging 30.8 °F (−0.7 °C). Historically, January had been the coldest month, but, in recent years, December has had both lower daily maxima and minima. Typically, there are 5.2 nights with sub-0 °F (−18 °C) lows and 23.6 days where the high does not rise above freezing.
Snowfall is usually moderate and remains on the ground briefly because of direct sun, with the city receiving 38 inches (97 cm) per season, although the mountains to the west often receive in excess of triple that amount; March is the snowiest month in the region, both by total accumulation and number of days with measurable snowfall. In addition, 8 of the top 10 heaviest 24-hour snowfalls have occurred from March to May. Summers are warm, with July, the warmest month, averaging 70.9 °F (21.6 °C), and 18 days of 90 °F (32 °C)+ highs annually. Due to the high elevation and aridity, nights are usually relatively cool and rarely does the low remain above 70 °F (21 °C). Dry weather generally prevails, but brief afternoon thunderstorms are common, especially in July and August when the city receives the majority of its annual rainfall, due to the North American monsoon.
The first autumn freeze and the last freeze in the spring, on average, occur on October 2 and May 6, respectively; the average window for measurable snowfall (≥0.1 in or 0.25 cm) is October 21 through April 25. Extreme temperatures range from 101 °F (38 °C) on June 26, 2012 and most recently on June 21, 2016, down to −27 °F (−33 °C) on February 1, 1951, and December 9, 1919.
Colorado Springs's economy is driven primarily by the military, the high-tech industry, and tourism, in that order. The city is experiencing growth in the service sectors. In June 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic, the unemployment rate was 3.3%. The state's unemployment rate in June 2022 was 3.4% compared to 3.6% for the nation.
As of 2021[update], there are nearly 45,000 active-duty troops in Colorado Springs. There are more than 100,000 veterans and thousands of reservists. The military and defense contractors supply more than 40% of the Pikes Peak region's economy.
A large percentage of Colorado Springs's economy is still based on manufacturing high-tech and complex electronic equipment. The high-tech sector in the Colorado Springs area has decreased its overall presence from 2000 to 2006 (from around 21,000 to around 8,000), with notable reductions in information technology and complex electronic equipment. Current trends project the high-tech employment ratio will continue to decrease.[needs update]
Almost immediately following the arrival of railroads beginning in 1871, the city's location at the base of Pikes Peak and the Rocky Mountains made it a popular tourism destination. Tourism is the third largest employer in the Pikes Peak region, accounting for more than 16,000 jobs. In 2018, 23 million day and overnight visitors came to the area, contributing $2.4 billion in revenue.
The downtown Colorado Springs Visitor Information Center offers free area information to leisure and business travelers. The Cultural Office of the Pikes Peak Region (COPPeR), also downtown, supports and advocates for the arts throughout the Pikes Peak Region. It operates the PeakRadar website to communicate city events.
The Colorado Springs Festival of Lights Parade is held the first Saturday in December. The parade is held on Tejon Street in Downtown Colorado Springs.
In 2017, Colorado had the third-most craft breweries at 348. Breweries and microbreweries have become popular in Colorado Springs, which hosts over 30 of them.
Although houses of worship of almost every major world religion are within the city, Colorado Springs has in particular attracted a large influx of Evangelical Christians and Christian organizations in recent years. At one time Colorado Springs was the national headquarters for 81 different religious organizations, earning the city the tongue-in-cheek nicknames "the Evangelical Vatican" and "The Christian Mecca."
Religious groups with regional or international headquarters in Colorado Springs include:
Although Colorado voters approved Colorado Amendment 64, a constitutional amendment in 2012 legalizing retail sales of marijuana for recreational purposes, the Colorado Springs city council voted not to permit retail shops in the city, as was allowed in the amendment. Medical marijuana outlets continue to operate in Colorado Springs. In 2015, there were 91 medical marijuana clinics in the city, which reported sales of $59.6 million in 2014, up 11 percent from the previous year but without recreational marijuana shops. On April 26, 2016, Colorado Springs city council decided to extend the current six-month moratorium to eighteen months with no new licenses to be granted until May 2017. A scholarly paper suggested the city would give up $25.4 million in tax revenue and fees if the city continued to thwart the industry from opening within the city limits. As of March 1, 2018, there were 131 medical marijuana centers and no recreational cannabis stores. As of 2019 Colorado Springs is still one of seven towns that have only allowed for medical marijuana.
In a North Korean propaganda video released in April 2013, Colorado Springs was inexplicably singled out as one of four targets for a missile strike. The video failed to pinpoint Colorado Springs on the map, instead showing a spot somewhere in Louisiana.
Further, over 50 national sports organizations (non-Olympic) headquarter in Colorado Springs. These include the National Strength and Conditioning Association, Sports Incubator, a various non-Olympic Sports (such as USA Ultimate), and more.
The Pikes Peak International Hill Climb (PPIHC), also known as The Race to the Clouds, is an annual invitational automobile and motorcycle hill climb to the summit of Pikes Peak, every year on the last Sunday of June. The highway wasn't completely paved until 2011.
The city's Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services manage 136 neighborhood parks, eight community parks, seven regional parks, and five sports complexes, totaling 9,000 acres (3,600 ha). They also manage 500 acres (200 ha) of trails, of which 160 miles (260 km) are park trails and 105 miles (169 km) are urban. There are 5,000 acres (2,000 ha) of open space in 48 open-space areas.
Garden of the Gods is on Colorado Springs's western edge. It is a National Natural Landmark, with 300 foot (91 m) red/orange sandstone rock formations often viewed against a backdrop of the snow-capped Pikes Peak. This park is free to the public and offers many recreational opportunities, such as hiking, rock climbing, cycling, horseback riding and tours. It offers a variety of annual events, one of the most popular of which is the Starlight Spectacular, a recreational bike ride held every summer to benefit the Trails and Open Space Coalition of Colorado Springs.
Three trails, the New Santa Fe Regional Trail, Pikes Peak Greenway and Fountain Creek Regional Trail, form a continuous path from Palmer Lake, through Colorado Springs, to Fountain, Colorado. The majority of the trail between Palmer Lake and Fountain is a soft surface breeze gravel trail. A major segment of the trail within the Colorado Springs city limits is paved. The trails, except Monument Valley Park trails, may be used for equestrian traffic. Motorized vehicles are not allowed on the trails. Many of the trails are interconnected, having main spine trails, like the Pikes Peak Greenway, that lead to secondary trails.
On November 2, 2010, Colorado Springs voters adopted a council-strong mayor form of government. The City of Colorado Springs transitioned to the new system of government in 2011. Under the council-strong mayor system of government, the mayor is the chief executive and the city council is the legislative branch. The mayor is a full-time elected position and not a member of the council. The council has nine members, six of whom represent one of six equally populated districts each. The remaining three members are elected at-large.
The Colorado Springs City Council consists of nine elected officials, six of whom represent districts and three of whom represent the city at-large.
District 1 – Dave Donelson
District 2 – Randy Helms – Council President
District 3 – Michelle Talarico
District 4 – Yolanda Avila
District 5 – Nancy Henjum
District 6 – Mike O'Malley
At-large – Lynette Crow-Iverson - Council President Pro Tem
At-large – David Leinweber
At-large – Brian Risley
In 2017 Caleb Hannan wrote in Politico that Colorado Springs was "staunchly Republican", "a right-wing counterweight to liberal Boulder", and that a study ranked it "the fourth most conservative city in America".In 2016 Hannan wrote that downtown Colorado Springs had a different political vibe from the overall area's and that there were "superficial signs of changing demographics". Since 2020, Colorado Springs has continued to shift towards the political center. In 2022, Governor Jared Polis won the city in his bid for reelection. In the 2023 mayoral election, independent candidate Yemi Mobolade handily won the race and became the first elected non-Republican mayor of the city.
Primary and secondary education
The public education in the city is divided into several school districts:
Colorado Springs is primarily served by one interstate highway. I-25 runs north and south through Colorado, and traverses the city for nearly 18 miles (29 km), entering the city south of Circle Drive and exiting north of North Gate Boulevard. In El Paso County it is known as Ronald Reagan Highway.[d]
State and U.S. highways
A number of state and U.S. highways serve the city. State Highway 21 is a major east side semi-expressway from Black Forest to Fountain, known locally and co-signed as Powers Boulevard. State Highway 83 runs north–south from central Denver to northern Colorado Springs. State Highway 94 runs east–west from western Cheyenne County to eastern Colorado Springs where it terminates at US 24. US 24 is a major route through the city and county, providing access to Woodland Park via Ute Pass to the west and downtown, Nob Hill and numerous suburbs to the east. It is co-signed with Platte Ave after SH 21 and originally carried local traffic through town. The Martin Luther King Jr Bypass runs from I-25 near Circle Drive along Fountain Blvd to SH 21, then east again. State Highway 115 begins in Cañon City, traveling north along the western edge of Fort Carson; when it reaches the city limits it merges with Nevada Avenue, a signed Business Route of US 85. US 85 and SH 115 are concurrent between Lake Avenue and I-25. US 85 enters the city at Fountain and was signed at Venetucci Blvd, Lake Avenue, and Nevada Avenue[e] at various points in history; however most of US 85 is concurrent with I-25 and is not signed.
County and city roads
In November 2015, voters in Colorado Springs overwhelmingly passed ballot measure 2C, dedicating funds from a temporary sales tax increase to much needed road and infrastructure improvements over five years. This temporary increase is estimated to bring in approximately $50 million annually, which will be used solely to improve roads and infrastructure. The ballot measure passed by a margin of approximately 65–35%.
In 2004, the voters of Colorado Springs and El Paso County established the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority.
In early 2010, the city of Colorado Springs approved an expansion of the northernmost part of Powers Boulevard in order to create an Interstate 25 bypass commonly referred to as the Copper Ridge Expansion.[f]
Colorado Springs Airport (COS; ICAO: KCOS) has been in operation since 1925. It is the second-largest commercial airport in the state, after Denver International Airport (DEN; ICAO: KDEN). It covers 7,200 acres (2,900 ha) of land at an elevation of approximately 6,200 feet (1,900 m). COS is considered to be a joint-use civilian and military airport, as Peterson Space Force Base is a tenant of the airport. It has three paved runways: 17L/35R is 13,501 by 150 feet (4,115 by 46 m), the runway 17R/35L is 11,022 by 150 feet (3,360 by 46 m) and the runway 13/31 is 8,270 by 150 feet (2,521 by 46 m). The airport handled 817,000 passengers from October 2020–October 2021, and is served by American, Delta, Southwest, and United.
In April 2018, the Colorado Springs City Council approved a Bike Master Plan. The vision of the city's Bike Master Plan is "a healthy and vibrant Colorado Springs where bicycling is one of many transportation options for a large portion of the population, and where a well-connected and well-maintained network of urban trails, single-track, and on-street infrastructure offers a bicycling experience for present and future generations that is safe, convenient, and fun for getting around, getting in shape, or getting away." Bike lanes in Colorado Springs have not been deployed without controversy. According to The Gazette, their readers "have mixed feelings for new bike lanes." In December 2016, the City removed a bike lane along Research Parkway due to overwhelming opposition; an online survey found that 80.5% of respondents opposed the bike lane.The Gazette has stated that since the Bike Master Plan was adopted by city council, "no issue has elicited more argument in The Gazette pages," and due to this immense public interest, on February 25, 2019, The Gazette hosted a town hall meeting called "Battle of the Bike Lanes."
A 2011 study by Walk Score ranked Colorado Springs 34th most walkable of fifty largest U.S. cities.
Mountain Metropolitan Transit
Mountain Metropolitan Transit (MMT) is testing Battery Electric Buses (BEB), and if the buses perform well, the agency plans to acquire its first three BEBs in 2021 using funds from the Volkswagen emissions scandal and resulting lawsuit and settlement. On April 22, 2022, Mountain Metro unveiled four new all-electric Proterra ZX5 buses to be added to their fleet. The new buses join their current fleet of 67 clean diesel buses. They are funded by the Colorado Department of Transportation Division of Transit and Rail Settlement Transit Bus Replacement Program, Volkswagen Diesel Emission Settlement trust, and Federal transit Administration 5339(b) Buses and Bus Facilities Program grant. The Proterra ZX5 buses run 220 to 330 miles on a single charge, and cost $1.2 million per bus.
Mountain Metro Mobility
Mountain Metro Mobility is an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) federally mandated complementary ADA paratransit service, which provides demand-response service for individuals with mobility needs that prevent them from using the fixed-route bus system.
Mountain Metro Rides
Mountain Metro Rides offers alternative transportation options to residents of the Pikes Peak Region. The program is designed to reduce congestion and pollution by encouraging people to commute by carpool, vanpool, bicycling or walking.
Bustang provides intercity transportation to Colorado Springs. It is part of the South and Outrider lines, which connect to Denver and to Lamar. There is an additional line that connects Colorado Springs directly to the Denver Tech Center.
Colorado Springs's sister city organization began when it 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, in the median between Platte and Bijou Streets downtown, were a gift to Colorado Springs, erected in 1966 by the Rotary Club of Colorado Springs to celebrate the 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.
In 2006 and 2010, the Bankstown TAP (Talent Advancement Program) performed with the Youth Symphony and the Colorado Springs Children's Chorale as part of the annual "In Harmony" program. A notable similarity between Colorado Springs and its sister cities is their geographic positions: three of the seven cities are near the foot of a major mountain or mountain range, as is Colorado Springs.
^Mean monthly maxima and minima (i.e. the expected highest and lowest temperature readings at any point during the year or given month) calculated based on data at said location from 1991 to 2020.
^As of the census of 2000 (limited only to the city limits and not including the very diverse Fort Carson area which many view as being a part of the Colorado Springs metropolitan area), there were 360,890 people, 141,516 households, and 93,117 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,942.9 inhabitants per square mile (750.2/km2). There were 148,690 housing units at an average density of 800.5 per square mile (309.1/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 80.7% White, 6.6% African American, 0.9% Native American, 2.8% Asian, 0.2% Pacific Islander, 5.0% from other races, and 3.9% from two or more races. 12.0% 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 local 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.
^Political leaders in Colorado plan to ask President Biden's administration to review the merits of the decision. Huntsville also has to pass an environmental review before the decision is final. Air Force documents show Alabama ranked higher than Colorado in 11 of 21 comparisons used by the government in seeking the best site for the new U.S. Space Command's permanent headquarters. In the Space Command headquarters comparison, Alabama ranks in top third in nine of the 21 categories. Colorado ranks in the top third in five categories. Alabama ranks in bottom third in three of the 21 categories and Colorado ranks in bottom third in 10 of the 21 categories.
^In order to combat congestion the Colorado Department of Transportation widened the Interstate 25 corridor throughout the city from four lanes (two in each direction) to six lanes in a program called COSMIX. Ultimately, the plan is to make the interstate eight lanes through the city when funding becomes available.
Work has been completed to expand Interstate 25 from 4 to 6 lanes between Woodmen Road (exit 149, the northern terminus for the COSMIX project) and Monument (exit 161).
^In addition, there were 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 traveled 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.
^The project developers also have hopes of increasing business at the future I-25 Powers Boulevard connection by building a 2.8 million cu ft (79 thousand m3) shopping mall on the East side of the Powers exit. Developers hope to have the project finished by 2013, but have a deadline of 2018.
^"Colorado Municipal Incorporations". State of Colorado, Department of Personnel & Administration, Colorado State Archives. December 14, 2008. Archived from the original on September 27, 2007. Retrieved September 2, 2007.
^"El Paso County". History Colorado. Archived from the original on December 4, 2013. Platted by his Colorado Springs Company in 1876 [sic] Manitou Springs retains its winding roads, spa, and many of its grand hotels and residences. Of the approximately 1001 buildings, 752 are considered to be contributing... Miramont Castle...housed a sanitarium operated by the Sisters of Mercy.((cite web)): CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link) (in 1916, the Sisters of Mercy operated the Montcalm Sanitarium).
^ abDirectory of Colorado Springs(PDF) (almanac), The Out West Printing and Stationery Co., 1898, archived from the original(PDF) on November 12, 2013, retrieved November 5, 2013, SANATARIUMS ... St. Francis Hospital—On Institute Heights, east end of Pike's Peak avenue, near Knob Hill street car line ... Pike's Peak Camp, No. 5 (Pacific jurisdiction)--Meets in K. of P. Hall every Tuesday evening
^Report of the Commission on the Colorado Springs Union Depot (available at PPLD Special Collections and the Colorado College Tutt Library)
^ abHartman, James Edward (June 28, 1996). Original Colorado Springs Municipal Airport (NRHP Inventory—Nomination Form). Contributing 4...Non-contributing 1 ... Nichols Field and the Pine Valley Air Strip were located on north Nevada Avenue. ... In 1942 the hangar was purchased by the City of Colorado Springs. The Air Force began leasing the [Broadmoor] hangar as a storage area in 1958. ... 1951 • Facility usage is re-leased to the Military (383 acres) for the 4600 Air Base Group (Jan.). ... 1966...The City of Colorado Springs renegotiates with Air Force total of 992 acres (until June 30, 2066).
^Kaufmann, M. R.; Huckaby, L. S.; Gleason, P., (2000), Ponderosa pine in the Colorado Front Range: long historical fire and tree recruitment intervals and a case for landscape heterogeneity. In: Neuenschwander, Leon F.; Ryan, Kevin C., tech. eds. Proceedings from the Joint Fire Science Conference and Workshop: Crossing the Millennium: Integrating spatial technologies and ecological principles for a new age in fire management; Boise, Idaho, June 15–17, 1999. Moscow, Idaho: University of Idaho: 153–160.