About Aurora

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Aurora History

Aurora founder Donald Fletcher

First Aurora city hall

Colfax Avenue - 1946

  • Founded in 1891, the city of Aurora was originally named Fletcher by its founder, former Chicago resident Donald Fletcher.
  • In 1907, the town changed its name to Aurora.
  • In 1921, the U.S. government selected Aurora as the site for Fitzsimons Army Hospital to treat the wounded—especially those affected by mustard gas and tuberculosis—during World War I.
  • In 1929, Colorado's Secretary of State recognized Aurora—with 2,000 residents—as a city, and tax revenues were appropriated for sewers, roads and fire stations. Most citizens were located just south of Colfax Avenue, an area that is now called Original Aurora.
  • During the Great Depression, Colorado’s congressional delegation managed to save Fitzsimons from closure due to cuts in military expenditures. President Roosevelt later visited Fitzsimons and was so impressed with the facility that he appropriated funds for its improvement.
  • In 1942, the Army Air Corps built Buckley Field, enhancing the military presence in Aurora. This, coupled with the addition of Lowry Field, resulted in more employment, residents and money for the city.
  • In 1947, Buckley Field was renamed Naval Air Station.
  • By 1960, Aurora had 50,000 residents. The Naval Air Station is renamed Buckley Air National Guard Base.
  • The 1970s were prosperous for Aurora with the city benefiting from new highway construction.
  • The 1980s were a time of economic cooling off, as with the rest of Colorado.
  • The 1990s ushered in economic prosperity. However, closures of the military bases, which began with the closure of nearby Lowry Air Force Base, threatened the city's well being.
  • In 2000, Aurora’s population had increased to 292,393 residents.
  • In 1995, the U.S. Congress targets Fitzsimons for closure. That same year, officials with the City of Aurora, University of Colorado Health Sciences Center and the University of Colorado Hospital present the U.S. Department of Defense with a plan to reuse the decommissioned base as a world-class medical campus. The Fitzsimons Redevelopment Authority is formed through an intergovernmental agreement.
  • In 1998, the first biotech companies move to Fitzsimons.
  • In 2000, Buckley Air National Guard Base re-designated as Buckley Air Force Base.
  • By October 2004, the 1-square-mile life sciences city at Fitzsimons is home to the University of Colorado Hospital and Health Sciences Center, Rocky Mountain Lions Eye Institute, the Nighthorse Campbell Native Health Building, Research Complex I and Colorado Bioscience Park Aurora, with more to come.


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