The city of Aurora is one of the 35 towns and 61 cities that are home rule municipalities in the state of Colorado. Home rule municipality simply refers to a self-governed city or town, meaning, they get to pass their own laws provided that they are in accordance with the federal and state constitutions.
Aurora is also a primary city in the Denver-Aurora-Lakewood Metropolitan Statistical Area and as of the 2010 census, it stood at a population of 325,078 making it number 3 and 54 on the lists of most populated cities in the state of Colorado and in the United States respectively.
It was during the 1880s that Aurora sprung up as a town which was then named Fletcher after Donald Fletcher, a businessman from Denver. It is said that Fletcher and two of his associates namely Thomas Hayden and Charles Dickenson fenced out 4 square miles/2560 acres east of Denver as a real estate investment. However, the Denver Depression of 1893 where the price of silver quickly dropped had the town battle with great difficulties and caused Donald Fletcher to leave.
His part of the town was sold to his two associates in October 1893. Fletcher left the locals with a large sum of water debt which nearly had the town fall so they made a petition for Denver to take over. The town did survive and in 1907 the residents decided to rename it Aurora like one of its indigenous subdivisions. Aurora gradually began to develop and in the period between the late 1970s and early 1980s, it was the fastest growing city in the US.
Many regard Aurora to be nothing more than the wide-reaching suburbs of Denver, nonetheless, Aurora’s rapidly growing population over the last few decades has prompted attempts to have it equally acknowledged in the same rank as Denver. And agreeably so, for instance, Aurora has exceeded Denver’s territory since the 2000 census and it has room for development while Denver has no more raw space for expansion. Be that as it may, these attempts are in a way hindered by the fact that Aurora lacks a central business district and is considerably more residential.
In addition, Aurora has had an extensive military history since the 20th century. In the year 1981, Fitzsimons Army Hospital formerly Army General Hospital #21 was opened and in 1941 the US government renovated it in order to efficiently treat the injured servicemen of World War II. Here, in 1923 and 1936 Presidents Warren G. Harding and Franklin D. Roosevelt respectively visited. It was closed in 1999 and where it once stood now are facilities like Anschutz Medical Campus and University of Colorado Hospital. When fully developed the various existing and upcoming facilities could hire up to 32,000 people.There are also some very mundane locations with a deep history. According to my Aurora veterinarian, her practice was previously a coffee shop where FDR drank coffee during his visit to Aurora.
In 1938 Lowry Air Force Base was launched but was closed in 1994 and reconstructed to a small self-contained area. Buckley Air Force Base initially Buckley Field which is now the headquarters for 140th Wing Colorado Air National Guard and 460th Space Wing, was started in 1942 by the Army Air Corps. The base is currently Aurora’s greatest source of employment.
Norma O. Walker in 1965 was the first woman to gain the title mayor in Aurora and in a city of 60,000 plus people. Moreover, in 1993 Cherry Creek State Park which is in Southwestern Aurora was the venue for the 8th World Youth Day where Pope John Paul II and approximately 500,000 people were in attendance.
Sports wise Aurora hasn’t been left behind either as it was featured as the ‘”Sports town” for Colorado in the 2004 Sports Illustrated magazine 50th-anniversary edition because of promoting and improving sports tirelessly. Yearly, Aurora hosts beyond 30 local and national sports championships in its vast playgrounds including Aurora Sports Park which was opened in 2003. There are quite a number of professional athletes who grew up in Aurora proving that the town is actively involved in sports.
Aurora is divided among three counties and is geographically far from each of the county capital cities. In the mid-90s forming a consolidated city-county like that of the city-county of Denver created in 1902 was up for a vote but the residents voted against. The suggestion was brought up again in the year 2006, were it to eventually pass, the merged city-county of Aurora would probably include places that are not in its boundaries but would eventually limit expansion to the new set borders.
In 2008, National Civic League recognized and presented Aurora with the All-America City Award. Early 2017, a consulate of the Republic of El Salvador was opened in Aurora and will offer services to Nebraska, Kansas, Wyoming, and Colorado.
Tragedy hit Aurora on July 20th, 2012, when James Eagan Holmes randomly shot at people in a Century movie theater during the midnight premiere of The Dark Knight Rises causing the deaths of 12 people and injuring of another 70 making Aurora the location of the 2nd largest mass shooting casualty wise and second-deadliest Colorado shooting after Columbine High School massacre.
On July 22nd, President Barack Obama visited the victims, both the local and state officials and had a press conference from Aurora. Christian Bale who stars as Batman in the film also visited victims in the hospital. The incident fueled a lot of response globally and especially from world leaders. This incident set apart Aurora from Denver in most people’s perception as well as media accounts as was not usually the case before.