Profile: Colorado Springs, Colorado

Your cheat sheet on Colorado Spring's basic history, demographics, and more.

Population: 376,400 (city), 609,000 (metro)

USDA Hardiness Zone: 5

Major Airport: Colorado Springs Airport

Companies with a Major Presence: Fort Carson, U.S. Air Force Academy, Fort Peterson Air Force Base, North American Air Defense Command (NORAD), Hewlett-Packard, Memorial Health Services, Lockheed Martin, Penrose-St. Francis Health Services, the Broadmoor, Atmel Corp., Progressive Insurance, Focus on the Family, Verizon, ITT Industries

Colorado Springs is a military town with a half dozen military installations and a slew of defense contractors. It’s also a tourist destination with the southern edge of the Rocky Mountains and Pikes Peak providing a backdrop.

It’s a popular place to live and raise families, with a healthy climate, natural beauty, low crime rates and good schools.

This medium-sized metropolitan area is large enough to have all the amenities, from a lively arts and culture scene to great shopping, and it is small enough so you’ll almost inevitably run into someone you know at the grocery store.

It was founded in 1872 by Civil War hero and railroad magnate Gen. William J. Palmer, who envisioned a city of culture -- thus its nickname, “Little London.” Opera houses and fine hotels were its hallmark and plenty of natural beauty made it a tourist mecca on his Denver & Rio Grande Railroad line.

Because its wide open prairie offered training grounds, Fort Carson was established here by the Army in 1942, after the attack on Pearl Harbor. The U.S. Air Force Academy and NORAD (the North American Aerospace Defense Command) followed in the 1950s. The military presence continues to expand here, along with clean industries that focus on technology.

In addition to several colleges and universities, there’s a community college and a variety of vocational-technical schools to enhance your job skills. There also are a number of religious organizations which have their headquarters here.

Because the city has grown so rapidly, it sometimes struggles to keep up with its infrastructure and demands for water, but that doesn’t seem to discourage newcomers looking for an outdoorsy lifestyle, high quality health care and lively cultural scene. The latter includes the Pikes Peak Center performing arts facility, as well as an expanded Fine Arts Center and Colorado College’s new Cornerstone Arts Center. And if that’s not enough, Denver is just an hour’s drive away.

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