Kathy A. Torline-Nordstrom
ERA Herman Group Real Estate
Serving Colorado Springs
Old Colorado City during the early years
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The commercial district of Old Colorado City, located on W. Pikes Peak Ave., dates to the turn of the century (20th that is) when it was quite productive and prosperous. Due to the closeness of the railroad yards and ore mills it became a transportation and gold processing center. The railroads brought lots of tourists as well, creating a thriving hospitality business.
The business district reflected this economy. You could buy dry goods, furniture groceries. There were also drugstores and meat markets. Many of these building’s brick facades were provided by The Stucco, Brick and Cement Company located in Old Colorado City. Many of the buildings also housed meeting rooms, business offices, dentists, doctors and lawyers in the upper floors.
There were no shortage of saloons asmore than a dozen were in operation to provide refreshments and recreation for the populace, tourists and Colorado Springs residents trying to escape the city’s liquor free atmosphere. Places like Hoffman House, Oxford Club, Arcade, Colorado City Beer Hall and Bucket of Blood where many of them had second floor dance halls and gambling dens. The Cucharras Street Red Light District was on the adjacent street where you could indulge in more racier recreation if desired. Liquor, gambling and prostitution was banned in 1913 though you could still indulge in the town of Ramona which was founded by the bar owners for only those purposes. These buildings were later razed and Thorndale Park now occupies part of that scarlet town site.
Colorado City was annexed to Colorado Springs during World War I and became a bedroom community , which is now known as the westside. Due to the waning of Cripple Creek an economic decline started in the 1910′s and lasted until the mid 1900′s. Several of the original buildings were updated to unflattering modern renovations and several burned to the ground. Traffic declined even further when Highway 24 opened in the 1960′s.
Finally in the 1970′s, the district underwent a revival, supported by the City of Colorado Springs. Many properties were restored to the turn of the century looks and even some compatible new buildings were constructed on the vacant lots. Today the district is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. As in yesteryear, today “Old Town’s” ambiance attracts Colorado Springs residents and tourists. There are lots of shops, restaurants and interesting storefronts. Wide sidewalks, shade trees and park benches allow folks to stop, shop, eat and stay awhile. Notice the cornices, patterned brickwork and other wonderful architectural features of these historic commercial buildings.
If you liked this article, try reading some of these:
- Cripple Creek Gold Rush and what it meant to Colorado Springs
- Old Colorado City Springs to Life with a Vigilante System of Government
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