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The City of Aspen is a Home Rule Municipality that is the county seat and the most populous city of Pitkin Countymarker, Coloradomarker, United Statesmarker. The United States Census Bureau estimates that the city population was 5,804 in 2005. Founded as a mining camp in the Colorado Silver Boom and named because of the abundance of aspen trees in the area, the city is now a ski resort and an upscale tourist center.

In the late 20th century the city developed as a popular destination for celebrities, attracting such people as John Denver (who wrote several folk songs about the town, including "Aspenglow", and "Starwood in Aspen") Michael Douglas and Hunter S. Thompson.


Aspen Lumber Company, 1882
The city's roots are traced to the winter of 1879, when a group of miners ignored pleas by Frederick Pitkin, governor of Colorado, to return across the Continental Divide due to an uprising of the Ute Indians. Originally named Ute City, the small community was renamed Aspen in 1880, and, in its peak production years of 1891 and 1892, surpassed Leadvillemarker as the United States' most productive silver-mining district. Production expanded due to the passage of the Sherman Silver Purchase Act of 1890, which doubled the government's purchase of silver. By 1893, Aspen had banks, a hospital, two theaters, an opera house and electric lights. Economic collapse came with the Panic of 1893, when President Cleveland called a special session of Congress and repealed the act. Within weeks, many of the Aspen mines were closed and thousands of miners were put out of work. It was proposed that silver be recognized as legal tender and the Populist Party adopted that as one of its main issues; Davis H. Waite, an Aspen newspaperman and agitator was elected governor of Colorado on the Democratic Ticket; but in time the movement failed.

Aspen in 1962

Eventually, after wage cuts, mining revived somewhat, but production declined and by the 1930 census only 705 residents remained. There was a fine stock of old business blocks and residences and excellent snow. Aspen's development as a ski resort first flickered in the 1930s when investors conceived of a ski area, but the project was interrupted by World War II. Friedl Pfeifer, a member of the 10th Mountain Division who had trained in the area, returned to the area and linked up with industrialist Walter Paepcke and his wife Elizabeth. The Aspen Skiing Corporation was founded in 1946 and the town quickly became a well-known resort, hosting the FIS World Championships in 1950. Paepcke also played an important role in bringing the Goethe Bicentennial Convocation to Aspen in 1949, an event held in a newly designed tent by the architect Eero Saarinen. Aspen was now on the path to becoming an internationally known ski resort and cultural center, home of the Aspen Music Festival and School. The area would continue to grow with the development of three additional ski areas, Buttermilkmarker (1958), Aspen Highlandsmarker(1958), and Snowmassmarker (1969).

In 1977, Aspen was thoroughly photographed for the Aspen Movie Map project funded by the U.S.marker Department of Defensemarker. The Movie Map is one of the earliest examples of virtual reality software.

Aspen is notable as the smallest radio market tracked by Arbitron, ranked at #302.

Local media in Aspen includes two daily newspapers, The Aspen Times & The Aspen Daily News, two local, lifestyle magazines, Aspen Magazine & the bi-annual Aspen Peak, as well as a local, lifestyle television channels TV Aspen, Plum TV Aspen - Channel 16, part of the Plum TV Network.


This historic character of the city has been challenged in recent decades by skyrocketing property values and the proliferation of second homes, increasingly shutting low- and middle-income workers out of the city and creating a large pool of commuters from nearby bedroom communities such as Basaltmarker and Carbondalemarker. At the same time, in stark contrast to its historic character, the city has emerged into international fame as a glitzy playground of the wealthy and famous. Aspen has become a second and third home to many international jet setters.

The downtown has been largely transformed into an upscale shopping district that includes high-end restaurants, salons, and boutiques. Aspen boasts Ralph Lauren, Dior, Louis Vuitton, Prada, Gucci, Fendi, Bvlgari, Burberry, Brioni, Theory and Ermenegildo Zegna boutiques, many of which have no other locations in Colorado .

Real estate market

The booming real estate market has forced the city to struggle between permitting growth and restricting it. The city today remains a mix of high-end luxury homes and condos intermixed with legacy residences and mobile home parks populated by an old guard of Aspen residents struggling to maintain the unique character of the city. The average home/condo listing price as of 2008 was $1,795,000, while the average property value is over $1.8 million . It isn't uncommon to see listing prices reaching the mid-eight figures .


Aspen is well known for its beautiful nature landscapes.

The city sits along the southeast (upper) end of the Roaring Fork Valley, along the Roaring Fork Rivermarker, a tributary of the Colorado Rivermarker about south of Glenwood Springs, Coloradomarker. It is surrounded by mountain and wilderness areas on three sides: Red Mountain to the north, Smuggler Mountain to the east, and Aspen Mountainmarker to the south.

Aspen is located at , along State Highway 82.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 3.5 square miles (9.1 km²), all of it land.



As of the census of 2000, there were 5,914 people, 2,903 households, and 1,082 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,675.4 people per square mile (646.9/km²). There were 4,354 housing units at an average density of 1,233.5/sq mi (476.2/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 90.94% White, 0.44% Black or African American, 0.24% Native American, 1.45% Asian, 0.08% Pacific Islander, 1.64% from other races, and 1.20% from two or more races. 6.14% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 2,903 households out of which 16.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 28.8% were married couples living together, 5.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 62.7% were non-families. 43.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 4.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 1.94 and the average family size was 2.67.

In the city the population was spread out with 13.1% under the age of 18, 9.8% from 18 to 24, 42.1% from 25 to 44, 27.6% from 45 to 64, and 7.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 37 years. For every 100 females there were 115.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 117.5 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $60,418, and the median income for a family was $70,300. Males had a median income of $41,011 versus $32,023 for females. The per capita income for the city was $40,680. About 3.6% of families and 8.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 4.4% of those under age 18 and 2.6% of those age 65 or over.


  • Roaring Fork Transportation Authority, or RFTA, provides bus service within Aspen and pay service to the surrounding communities of Snowmass Village, Basalt, El Jebel, Carbondale, Glenwood Springs, and Rifle. Local RFTA bus service within Aspen and to the Aspen-Pitkin County Airport is free.

  • Aspen's only airport is Aspen-Pitkin County Airportmarker, also known as Sardy Field. The airport is an FAA Class 1 airport and has one asphalt runway, wide and long. Its hours of operation with FAA air traffic control is 7am to 10pm MST/MDT. Sardy Field is Colorado's third busiest airport. The airport has a large General Aviation section which can accommodate the many corporate airplanes and private jets which can crowd the airport during the busy holiday seasons. The Fixed Base Operator, which operates the General Aviation section, is Atlantic Aviation. The airport also has 3 regular commercial air carriers: United Airlines and Delta Air Lines (operated by SkyWest Airlines), and Frontier Airlines (operated by Lynx Aviation).

  • There is only one highway that runs through the town, Colorado State Highway 82. This also means that there are only two easily accessible accesses to the town. There are also some mountain pass roads to the town but require all-terrain vehicles. During winter, all mountain pass roads and Route 82 east of Aspen is shut down, leaving Route 82 west of Aspen as the only access.

Famous part-time residents

Sister cities

Cities listed alphabetically (together with their respective regions/departments).

Aspen has seven sister cities, as designated by Sister Cities International:

See also


Further reading

  • Malcolm Rohrbough, Aspen: The History of a Silver Mining Town 1879-1893, Oxford University Press, 1988, ISBN 0195054288
  • Frank L. Wentworth of Aspen (1866-1942), Aspen on the Roaring Fork, Sundance Publication, hardcover, ISBN 0-913582-15-8 (earlier editions exist), (common in the used book market, look on ABE)
  • Bruce Berger, The Complete Half-Aspenite, WHO Press, 2005, ISBN 1-882426-22-3
  • Bruce Berger, Music in the Mountains: The First Fifty Years of the Aspen Music Festival, Johnson Books, 2001, ISBN 1-55566-311-7

External links

TV AspenKUURmarkerKSNO

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