Early Settlers

The first recorded settlers in Boulder came to Settler’s Park on October 17, 1858. One of the men in the party was named A.A. Brookfield and on February 10, 1859 he created Boulder City Town Company from which eventually grew to be the city of Boulder. A.A. Brookfield and 60 shareholders divided Boulder into lots and deeded the prime lots along Boulder Creek to shareholders. The rest of the lots in Boulder were put up for sale for $1,000 each.

A year later, in 1860, the population of Boulder was 324 people and the fist schoolhouse was built on the southwest corner of Walnut and 15th Street. The same year, a post office was established.

early home steaders, boulder colorado

The town of Boulder was originally located in the Nebraska Territory. South of what is now Baseline Road was part of the Kansas Territory until February 28, 1861, when the U.S Congress created the Territory of Colorado. In 1867,Boulder was declared the county seat for Boulder County.

On Saturday, November 4, 1871, Boulder was incorporated as a town. In the early days Boulder was predominantly a supply town for the mountain mining towns and as such, it grew slowly. The first hospital was built in 1873, a town water system was built in 1874, and the first bank was built in 1874. The first mayor of Boulder was Jacob Ellison, elected in 1878.

In 1880, the population of Boulder reached 3,000 and Boulder became eligible to become incorporated as a city. However, that didn’t happen until April 3, 1882. The first courthouse was built in 1883 at the present site near 13th and Pearl Street. The original courthouse burned down in 1932 and was replaced by the current one in the same location.

In 1897 the Chautauqua auditorium was built. For a few decades around this time, tourism was a thriving business in Boulder, especially during the summer months. The tourism brought new industry to Boulder such as transportation firms, tour guides, shops, restaurants and other businesses that catered to tourists. On January 1, 1909, the Hotel Boulderado opened its doors to the public and is still open today.


In the 1930, with WWII starting, tourism in Boulder drop dramatically. The U.S. Navy opened a Japanese language school at CU and recruited people from all over the U.S. to attend. Many of the students liked Boulder and stayed when they were done with school. After the war ended, many war veterans came to attend C.U. on the new G.I. bill that was created to help veterans get into colleges after the war.

Between 1940 and 1950 Boulder saw a large population growth. In 1940 the population was recorded at 12,958. In 1950 the population was recorded at 20,000. With the population increase, Boulder had to start planning new expansion. Around this time, new subdivisions started getting laid out and planned on the outskirts of town. Martin Farm was divided into the neighborhoods of Martin Acres. The Basemar Shopping Center grew along with the new neighborhoods in South Boulder. In North Boulder, the Tyler Farm was subdivided into neighborhoods and the North Broadway shopping center was created. Boulder grew at a steady pace and was soon filling in all of these new residential areas.