The History of Denver, Colorado
City Point Description
The history of DENVER details the history from it’s founding in 1858 as a gold mining town. You will read how it went from a home for the Arapohoe and Cheyenne Indians, to a gold mining town to the state capital and then to what is today. Hope you enjoy the history of our city.
In 1855, it was occupied primarily by the Indians with only a few white settlers, thus the county was never organized. With no county government and the leaders of the Kansas Territory preoccupied with violent events, little attention was given to the locals-
even by the US Congress who were preoccupied with threats of secession by the slave states.
In 1859, tens of thousands of gold seekers arrived and the Pike’s Peak Gold Rush was under way.
In the following two years, about 100,000 gold seekers flocked to the region. However, the area faded quickly due to poor findings by miners and most of the settlers moved north and formed a new settlement named St. Charles The location was accessible to existing trails and had previously been the site of seasonal encampments of the Indian tribes
Land in St Charles was given away to anyone willing to build. A post office was opened in Auraria in 1859 serving the 50 cabins that had already been constructed. The town was named for the gold mining town settlement of Auraria, Georgia. The name of the site was changed to Denver City after the Territorial Governor James W. Denver to ensure that the city would become the county seat of then Arapaho County.
When the prospectors discovered that the gold deposits in these streams were discouragingly poor and quickly exhausted, and rich gold deposits were discovered west of Denver, it appeared that Denver City might become a ghost town. However, once the gold rush began, there was a great need for materials that could’t be produced locally, which assured Denver’s future as a supply hub for the new mines.
The same year that Colorado became a territory, the American Civil War broke out and the state was not spared. Most Denverites, were from the North and their support for the Union drove many Southerners from town.
With resources tied up in the war, there was little left over for mines, farms, and infrastructure– Denver stagnated
On February 28,1861, U.S. President James Buchanan signed an act of Congress organizing the free territory of Colorado. President Abraham Lincoln appointed Gilpin of Missouri the first Governor of the Territory of Colorado .
The Territory of Jefferson was then disbanded.
By the mid-1860’s, the Civil War was over and Denver had survived much. The city began to grow again and ended the decade with a population of 4,759.
With the freeing up of capital, new investment was once again possible. Denverites began to look forward to the next step in growing their city.
Denver City became the Territorial Capital in 1867 and shortened its name to DENVER.
On August 1, 1876, Denver became the temporary state capital when Colorado was admitted to the Union, and a statewide vote in 1881 made Denver the permanent state capital.
The railroad brought residents, tourists, and much needed supplies. The population soared to over 35,000 by 1880.
It then started to become a tourist destination. The following years saw many grand buildings erected as well as homes for the millionaires. The city was beginning to take on a “big city” image. At the same time, Colorado gained the nickname “The Worlds Sanatorium” for its dry climate making it reknown for curing respiratory diseases.
In 1894, the national unemployment went to 12-18%.
Silver mines were closing and miners started flooding into Denver in hopes of work.
The city couldn’t handle the influx and the exodus from Denver caused the population to drop to 90,000 from 106,000 in 5 years. The economy recovered and Denver gained back its population that went to 133,000 by 1900.
Once World War I started in 1917, Denver contributed by expanding agriculture and mining to support the troops. When the war ended, the demand for goods decreased and another “”recession was upon us”
In 1929, the national economy crashed leading to the Great Depression. In 1930, the weather turned dry beginning the most widespread and longest drought in Colorado history, a period of time that would be referred to as the “Dust Bowl” All these factors led to a huge social upheaval felt across the entire nation.
The economy began to recover at the end of the decade as World War II started in Europe. Denver was well positioned to benefit. By 1940, the population had gone to 322,000. After the war ended oil and gas companies opened offices because of proximity to the mountains and the energy fields contained within. This fueled a skyscraper boom and the renovation of downtown began and the population got to 490,000
At the end of the 80’s, Denver’s economy started to grow again and today the population is 2,827,000.