Aspen is a city that is located in Pitkin County, Colorado. It covers an area of three and a half square miles and has a population of almost six thousand residents. The history of the city can be traced to 1879, when it was founded as Ute City. The following year it was renamed Aspen and was the most productive silver mine in the United States. With the passage of the 1890 Sherman Silver Purchase Act, silver production of the area nearly doubled. Within three years, the city had a hospital, banks, theaters and an opera house. The Panic of 1893 caused a repeal of the Sherman Silver Purchase Act and several of the city’s mines were shut down. This put thousands of silver miners out of work and caused the city to experience an economic downturn.
Aspen silver production eventually picked back up, but went the city went through a second economic downturn by 1930. With a population of only seven hundred residents and with many businesses shut down, the city began to re-imagine itself as a ski resort. In 1946, the Aspen Skiing Corporation was started and the town began its journey as a ski resort. Today, increasing property values has shut many low and middle income workers out of the city and transformed the downtown area into an upscale shopping district. High end stores and boutiques in downtown Aspen include Christian Dior, Ralph Lauren, Gucci, Burberry, Prada, Louis Vuitton, Fendi, Ermenegildo Zegna, Brioni, Bvlgari and Theory. Average property values in the city exceed two million dollars.
A popular attraction in Aspen, is not located in the city but about ten miles away. Its the Ashcroft Ghost Town. This ghost town was known as Chloride in the 1880s and is located south of Aspen. It was founded by prospectors looking to make their fortune in silver. These prospectors built a courthouse and built the streets in just under two weeks. The town was eventually named Ashcroft after a big ore strike was made, and the city added a banquet hall and ballroom. The population of the town soon exceeded two thousand residents and it was home to twenty saloons, two newspapers, a school and several sawmills. By 1885, the population exceeded thirty-five hundred people and it added six hotels to its list of businesses. The prosperity of the town was short lived however, and the city would experience an economic downturn. This was caused by the discovery of silver in Aspen, which lured investors and businessmen away from Ashcroft. In 1939, the last official resident of Ashcroft dies and it became a ghost town. Ashcroft Ghost town is listed on the National Registry of Historic Sites, and is maintained as an educational resource by the Historic Society of Aspen. It is considered to be the most easily accessible and well maintained ghost towns in the United States.
Another popular attraction in Aspen is Independence Pass. This is a mountain pass that is at the summit of the Sawatch Range and is between Aspen and Leadville. The pass connects the Roaring Fork River Valley with the headwaters of the Arkansas River. The pass is covered by State Highway 82 and is the second highest paved road in the state. The pass is closed in the winter, from the first heavy snow fall in autumn, often opening only in late spring or early summer.
Other popular attractions in Aspen include Buttermilk Mountain, Crater Lake Trail, Aspen Mountain, Silver Queen Gondola, John Denver Sanctuary, Wheeler Opera House, Maroon Lake Scenic Trail, Caribou Club, Aspen Art Museum, Aspen Highlands, West Maroon Trail, Mill Street Fountain, Grizzly Lake Trail, Galerie Zuger, Ute Cemetery, Conundrum Creek Trail, Aspen Center for Environmental Studies, Aspen Golf and Tennis Club, Independence Ghost Town, Crystal Palace Dinner Theatre, Snowmass Golf Course, Wheeler-Stallard Museum, Mid-Way Creek Trail, Smuggler Mountain, Pam Driscoll Gallery, Huntsman Gallery, Aspen Fine Art Gallery, Aspen Club & Spa, Cathedral Lake Trail, Silver Circle Ice Rink, Difficult Creek Trail and Hotel Aspen.