Aspen is the home rule municipality that is the county seat and the most populous municipality of Pitkin County, Colorado, United States. Its population was 6,658 at the 2010 United States Census. Aspen is in a remote area of the Rocky Mountains' Sawatch Range and Elk Mountains, along the Roaring Fork River at an elevation just below 8,000 feet (2,400 m) above sea level on the Western Slope, 11 miles (18 km) west of the Continental Divide.
Founded as a mining camp during the Colorado Silver Boom and later named "Aspen" because of the abundance of aspen trees in the area, the city boomed during the 1880s, its first decade of existence. The boom ended when the Panic of 1893 led to a collapse in the silver market, and the city began a half-century known as "the quiet years" during which its population steadily declined, reaching a nadir of fewer than a thousand by 1930. Aspen's fortunes reversed in the mid-20th century when neighboring Aspen Mountain was developed into a ski resort, and industrialist Walter Paepcke bought many properties in the city and redeveloped them. Today it is home to three institutions, two of which Paepcke helped found, that have international importance: the Aspen Music Festival and School, the Aspen Institute, and the Aspen Center for Physics.
In the late 20th century, the city became a popular retreat for celebrities. Gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson worked out of a downtown hotel and ran unsuccessfully for county sheriff. Singer John Denver wrote two songs about Aspen after settling there. Both of them popularized Aspen among the counter-cultural youth of the 1970s as an ideal place to live, and the city continued to grow even as it gained notoriety for some of the era's hedonistic excesses (particularly its drug culture).
Today the musicians and movie stars have been joined by corporate executives. As a result of this influx of wealth, Aspen has some of the most expensive real estate in the United States and many middle-class residents can no longer afford to live there. It remains a popular tourist destination, with outdoor recreation in the surrounding White River National Forest serving as a summertime complement to the four ski areas in the vicinity.
|Etymology: From trees around the city|
Location of Aspen in Pitkin County, Colorado.
Location of Aspen in Colorado
Aspen (the United States)
Aspen (North America)
|Coordinates (39.1911° N, 106.8175° W): Coordinates:|
|• Type||Home Rule Municipality, council-manager|
|• City manager||Steve Barwick|
|• Mayor||Steve Skadron|
|• Total||3.88 sq mi (10.05 km2)|
|• Land||3.88 sq mi (10.05 km2)|
|• Water||0.00 sq mi (0.00 km2)|
|8,000 ft (2,438.4 m)|
(At SW corner of city boundary)
|8,460 ft (2,580 m)|
(Roaring Fork at N corner of city)
|7,660 ft (2,330 m)|
| • Estimate |
|• Density||1,770.88/sq mi (683.81/km2)|
|Time zone||UTC−7 (MST)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC−6 (Mountain Daylight Time)|
81611, 81612 (PO Boxes)
|INCITS place code||0803620|
|GNIS feature ID||0204686|
|Wikimedia Commons||Aspen, Colorado|
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 to avoid a Ute uprising. The Utes were fighting to maintain possession of their land and communities. Originally named Ute City, the small community was renamed Aspen in 1880, and, in its peak production years of 1891 and 1892, surpassed Leadville 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, a police department, 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 People's Party (populists) 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.
Eventually, after wage cuts, mining revived somewhat, but production declined and by the 1930 census only 705 residents remained. Remaining, however, were stocks of old commercial buildings and residences, along with excellent snow. Aspen's development as a ski resort began 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 city 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 then 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, Buttermilk (1958), Aspen Highlands (1958), and Snowmass (1967).
In 1999, the city council passed a resolution to petition the US Congress and President Clinton to restrict US immigration. Aspen residents cited concerns about the environmental impacts of increased immigration on their community, including urban and suburban sprawl, pollution from the older automobiles typically driven by immigrants, and litter accumulating in the mountains attributable to the increasing population. The impetus for the resolution was the increasing number of trailer parks that housed the migrant workers employed locally in the service sector and ski industry. The parks were perceived to be degrading to the town's image, property values, and environment. The move was led by Terry Paulson, an Aspen City Council member, and supported and guided by national groups such as the Carrying Capacity Network, and the Center for Immigration Studies. The resolution was discussed on the American Patrol Report website, contributing to a controversy over whether or not the resolution was racially motivated. Councilman Terry Paulson and some Aspen citizens insisted that it was motivated entirely by environmental concerns.
Local media in Aspen include three radio stations: KSNO, KTND, and KSPN; two daily newspapers: The Aspen Times and The Aspen Daily News; three local, lifestyle magazines: Aspen Sojourner, Aspen Magazine  and the bi-annual Aspen Peak; one digital magazine, Skollie Magazine's Aspen Edition, as well as one local, live, lifestyle television channel, Aspen 82.
Aspen is a home rule municipality under Colorado law. It has a council-manager government. An elected council of four members and the mayor supervise the city's operations, managed on a day-to-day basis by the city manager, an appointed official who serves at their pleasure. Steve Barwick has been city manager since 1999; Steve Skadron is the mayor.
The city's main office is at City Hall, the former Armory Hall listed on the National Register of Historic Places at the intersection of South Galena Street and East Hopkins Avenue. Because of its expansion in the late-20th century, it has outgrown that space. Several city departments are housed in satellite offices around the city.
The city's historic character 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 Snowmass, Basalt, Carbondale, and Glenwood Springs. 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, Van Cleef & Arpels, Valentino, Theory and Ermenegildo Zegna shops.
Aspen was the most expensive place to buy real estate in the US in 2011. Aspen is a mixture of high-end luxury estates and condos and single-family homes and mobile home parks. As of March 2011, the lowest-priced single-family home on the market was a trailer for $559,000. As of June 2015, the median listing price for homes or condos for sale in Aspen is $5,081,388, or $897 per square foot, according to Trulia. It is not uncommon to see listing prices of higher-end homes reach the mid-eight figures. In a 2015 survey of U.S. ski resort towns, Aspen had the second most expensive rentals, with a one-bedroom averaging $1,750. The City of Aspen, along with Pitkin County, operates an extensive affordable housing program, know locally as 'employee housing.' It is administered by the Aspen Pitkin County Housing Authority, which oversees over 4,000 units in the city and county.
The city sits along the southeast (upper) end of the Roaring Fork Valley, along the Roaring Fork River, a tributary of the Colorado River about 40 miles (64 km) south of Glenwood Springs, Colorado. It is surrounded by mountain and wilderness areas on three sides: Red Mountain to the north, Smuggler Mountain to the east, and Aspen Mountain to the south.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 3.5 square miles (9.1 km2), all land.
Under the Köppen climate classification, Aspen has a humid continental climate (Köppen: Dfb) owing to its high elevation. There is a large diurnal temperature variation between daytime and nighttime temperatures, rendering summer days moderately warm and winter nights very cold for the latitude. Summer lows and winter highs are relatively moderate, with frosts being rare in summer and winter days often averaging above freezing.
|U.S. Decennial Census|
As of the census of 2003, 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 per square mile (476.2 per km2). The racial makeup of the city was 94.94 percent White, 0.44 percent Black or African American, 0.24 percent Native American, 1.45 percent Asian, 0.08 percent Pacific Islander, 1.64 percent from other races, and 1.20 percent from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 6.14 percent of the population.
There were 2,903 households, of which 16.5 percent had children under the age of 18 living with them, 28.8 percent were married couples living together, 5.6 percent had a female householder with no husband present, and 62.7 percent were non-families. Single individuals composed 43.8 percent of all households and 4.8 percent 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.
The ages of the population were 13.1 percent under the age of 18, 9.8 percent from 18 to 24, 42.1 percent from 25 to 44, 27.6 percent from 45 to 64, and 7.4 percent 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 $53,750, 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 percent of families and 8.2 percent of the population were below the poverty line, including 4.4 percent of those under age 18 and 2.6 percent of those age 65 or over.
As of 2012, based on data from the 2009–10 school year, according to U.S. News & World Report, Aspen High School, the only high school in the Aspen School District, is the top ranked high school in Colorado and ranked 59th in the United States. The high school has grades 9 to 12, 540 students, and 41 teachers. Olympic cross-country skier Noah Hoffman is a 2007 graduate.
Minorities, mostly Hispanic, make up 13 percent of the school's enrollment. Four percent of the students are economically disadvantaged. The school has a high rate of participation in the International Baccalaureate program.
The Winter X Games sports event has been held in Aspen at Buttermilk (ski area) since 2002. Aspen natives Torin Yater-Wallace and Alex Ferreira are both freestyle skiers who compete in the Winter X Games and have very successful careers. Both Torin and Alex have represented the United States of America in Men's Ski SuperPipe at the Olympic Games.
Alec Parker (born April 10, 1974) is an American former rugby union lock. Parker was born in Aspen, Colorado. His height is 6 feet 6 inches (1.98 m).
He was a member of the United States national rugby union team and participated with the squad at the 2007 Rugby World Cup.Alexi Grewal
Alexi Singh Grewal (born September 8, 1960 in Aspen, Colorado) is an American Olympic gold medalist and former professional road racing cyclist. At the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, Grewal became the first American man to win an Olympic gold medal in road cycling. He has two brothers, Rishi and Ranjeet, who were also top American cyclists, especially in mountain bike racing.Aron Ralston
Aron Lee Ralston (born October 27, 1975) is an American outdoorsman, mechanical engineer and motivational speaker known for surviving a canyoneering accident by cutting off his own arm. During a solo descent of Bluejohn Canyon in southeastern Utah he dislodged a boulder which pinned his right wrist to the side of the canyon wall. After five days he was able to amputate his forearm with a dull pocketknife, make his way through the rest of the canyon, rappel down a 65-foot (20 m) drop, and hike 7 miles (11 km) to safety.The incident is documented in Ralston's autobiography Between a Rock and a Hard Place and is the subject of the 2010 film 127 Hours where he is portrayed by James Franco.
After the accident he continued mountaineering and became the first person to ascend all of Colorado's fourteeners solo in winter.Aspen Highlands
Aspen Highlands is a skiing mountain in Aspen, Colorado. It is famous for the Highland Bowl, which provides what some consider some of the most intense skiing in the state. The Aspen Skiing Company operates Aspen Highlands.Aspen Institute
The Aspen Institute is an international nonprofit think tank founded in 1949 as the Aspen Institute for Humanistic Studies. The organization is a nonpartisan forum for values-based leadership and the exchange of ideas. The Institute and its international partners promote the pursuit of common ground and deeper understanding in a nonpartisan and nonideological setting through regular seminars, policy programs, conferences, and leadership development initiatives. The institute is headquartered in Washington, D.C., United States, and has campuses in Aspen, Colorado (its original home), and near the shores of the Chesapeake Bay at the Wye River in Maryland. It has partner Aspen Institutes in Berlin, Rome, Madrid, Paris, Lyon, Tokyo, New Delhi, Prague, Bucharest, Mexico City, and Kiev, as well as leadership initiatives in the United States and on the African continent, India, and Central America.
The Aspen Institute is largely funded by foundations such as the Carnegie Corporation, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the Gates Foundation, the Lumina Foundation, and the Ford Foundation, by seminar fees, and by individual donations. Its board of trustees includes leaders from politics, government, business and academia who also contribute to its support.Aspen Music Festival and School
The Aspen Music Festival and School (AMFS) is a classical music festival held annually in Aspen, Colorado. It is noted both for its concert programming and the musical training it offers to mostly young-adult music students. Founded in 1949, the typical eight-week summer season includes more than 400 classical music events—including concerts by five orchestras, solo and chamber music performances, fully staged opera productions, master classes, lectures, and children's programming—and brings in 70,000 audience members. In the winter, the AMFS presents a small series of recitals and Metropolitan Opera Live in HD screenings.As a training ground for young-adult classical musicians, the AMFS draws more than 650 students from 40 states and 34 countries, with an average age of 22. While in Aspen, students participate in lessons, coaching, and public performances in orchestras, operas, and chamber music, often playing side-by-side with AMFS artist-faculty.The organization is currently led by President and CEO Alan Fletcher and Music Director Robert Spano.Aspen Skiing Company
The Aspen Skiing Company, known locally as "Ski Co", is a commercial enterprise based in Aspen, Colorado in the United States. The Aspen Skiing Company operates the Aspen/Snowmass resort complex, comprising four ski areas: Aspen Mountain, Aspen Highlands, Buttermilk, and Snowmass.Buttermilk (ski area)
Buttermilk Ski Area refers to a ski hill and an unincorporated community surrounding it in Pitkin County, Colorado. It is frequently considered the easiest skiing mountain in the Aspen area. Buttermilk has also been the host to the ESPN Winter X Games multiple times. It contains three ski areas: Tiehack (difficult), Main Buttermilk (regular), and West Buttermilk (easy). Art Pfister developed Buttermilk Mountain ski area in 1958. It was part of the original Aspen trio of 1960s: Aspen Mountain (ski area), Aspen Highlands, and Aspen Buttermilk.Buttermilk is anchored by three high speed quads. The Summit Express services trails in the Main Buttermilk section of the mountain. The West Buttermilk Express, built in 2004, services beginner terrain on the west face of the mountain. The Tiehack Express, built in 2011, services advanced and intermediate terrain on the west face of Buttermilk Mountain. Buttermilk is known as one of the best beginner mountains in North America, to learn ski or snowboard. Its base includes The Hideout — an integrated play-and-learning area for children in ski school ages 2 ½ to 6 years old.In February 2014, Nancy Pfister was found brutally murdered in a walk-in closet of her home in Buttermilk. The case made headlines across the country, and has been featured on Dateline and Snapped.Christy Smith
Christy Smith (born September 13, 1978, in Aspen, Colorado) originally from Basalt, Colorado is the first deaf contestant on the CBS reality television series Survivor: The Amazon and co-founder of Discovering Deaf Worlds.Davis Hanson Waite
Davis Hanson Waite (April 9, 1825 – November 27, 1901) was an American politician. He was a member of the Populist Party, and he served as the eighth Governor of Colorado from 1893 to 1895.Gretchen Bleiler
Gretchen Elisabeth Bleiler (born April 10, 1981 in Toledo, Ohio) is an American former professional halfpipe snowboarder.Hunter–Fryingpan Wilderness
The Hunter–Fryingpan Wilderness is a U.S. Wilderness Area located in White River National Forest east of Aspen, Colorado. The 82,026-acre (331.95 km2) wilderness established in 1978 includes the headwaters of Hunter Creek and the Fryingpan River plus many peaks of the Williams Mountains. It borders on the Mount Massive Wilderness to the east, separated only by the continental divide. There are 50 miles (80 km) of trails in the wilderness area.KPVW
KPVW (107.1 FM) is a radio station broadcasting a Mexican Regional format. It is licensed to Aspen, Colorado, United States, and serves the Aspen area. The station is owned by Entravision Holdings.Nancy E. Dick
Nancy E. Dick (born July 22, 1930) was the 41st Lieutenant Governor of Colorado. She was a Democrat and served from 1979 to 1987 under Governor Richard Lamm. She was Colorado's first female lieutenant governor.She was born in Detroit, Michigan and attended the University of Denver College of Law. She served two terms in the Colorado House of Representatives before being elected Lieutenant Governor. She was the Democratic nominee for the U.S. Senate in 1984, losing to incumbent Republican William L. Armstrong.Dick's grandsons are Tomicah Tillemann and Levi Tillemann.Paul Soldner
Paul Soldner (April 24, 1921 in Summerfield, Illinois – January 3, 2011 in Claremont, California) was an American ceramic artist, noted for his experimentation with the 16th-century Japanese technique called raku introducing new methods of firing and post firing, which became known as American RakuSusie Berning
Susie Maxwell Berning (born July 22, 1941) is a retired American professional golfer. She became a member of the LPGA Tour in 1964 and won four major championships and eleven LPGA Tour victories in all. She also competed under her maiden name Susie Maxwell from 1964 to 1968.The Aspen Times
The Aspen Times is an 11,500-circulation, 7-day-a-week newspaper in the ski resort of Aspen, Colorado, United States, with a history dating back to 1881.The Comedy Festival
The Comedy Festival, formerly known as the US Comedy Arts Festival, was a comedy festival that ran from 1995 to 2008. The festival included stand-up comedy performances, appearances by the casts of television shows, and has a film component called the Film Discovery Program.The first 13 editions of the US Comedy Arts Festival were held annually at the Wheeler Opera House and other venues in Aspen, Colorado. The primary sponsor of the festival was HBO, with co-sponsorship by Caesars Palace (the primary venue), TBS, GEICO Insurance, Twix candy bars and Smirnoff Vodka. In-between, HBO had started a spin-off version simply named The Comedy Festival, which was held in Las Vegas, Nevada, since 2006, in collaboration with the Anschutz Entertainment Group. The Aspen event folded in 2007 once HBO exited the festival business, considering the expenditures too high. TBS picked up the Las Vegas event in 2008, and organized a follow-up edition that year, also arranging for other comedy festivals in collaboration with Just For Laughs. In turn, Aspen replaced the festival with similar events, the Aspen RooftopComedy Festival and the Aspen Laff Festival.Walter Paepcke
Walter Paepcke (June 29, 1896 – April 13, 1960) was a U.S. industrialist and philanthropist prominent in the mid-20th century. A longtime executive of the Chicago-based Container Corporation of America, Paepcke is best noted for his founding of the Aspen Institute and the Aspen Skiing Company in the early 1950s, both of which helped transform the town of Aspen, Colorado into an international resort destination and popularize the sport of skiing in the United States.
|Climate data for Aspen (1981–2010 normals, extremes 1899–present)|
|Record high °F (°C)||58
|Average high °F (°C)||35.6
|Daily mean °F (°C)||22.5
|Average low °F (°C)||9.4
|Record low °F (°C)||−37
|Average precipitation inches (mm)||1.70
|Average snowfall inches (cm)||25.2
|Average precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in)||12||12||12||12||11||7||11||12||10||9||10||12||130|
|Source: WRCC (temperature and precipitation data 1981–2010, snowfall 1899–1979)|
|Bodies of water|
Municipalities and communities of Pitkin County, Colorado, United States
County seat: Aspen
‡This populated place also has portions in an adjacent county or counties