Aspen, Colorado is the most populous city and the county seat of Pitkin County, Colorado. Founded originally as a mining camp, the city was named after the aspen trees which can be found in abundance in the area. Today Aspen is an upscale ski resort and tourist destination for the affluent. The city's history can be traced back to 1879, when a group of miners ignored the requests of Frederick Pitkin, governor of Colorado and the county's namesake. Pitkin asked the miners to return across the Continental Divide because of an uprising of the Ute Indians. The city's name was changed from Ute City to Aspen in 1880, and, in 1891, Aspen passed Leadville, Colorado as the United States' most productive silver-mining district. The increased production was spurred by the Sherman Silver Purchase Act of 1890, a measure which effectively doubled the amount of silver purchased by the government. By 1893 Aspen had its own hospital, banks, two theaters, an opera house, and electric lights. In 1893, President Cleveland called a special session of Congress and repealed the Sherman Act, which lead to economic collapse in Aspen. Many of the area mines were closed within weeks and thousands of miners were out of work.
Mining would be revived somewhat, but the city's population would continue to dwindle through the 1930 census, when Aspen was home to 705 residents. The city's transformation into a ski resort-area would first be envisioned in the mid-1930s, but was interrupted by our involvement in World War II. The Aspen Skiing Corporation was founded in 1946, launching the city as a top skiing destination; and Aspen was chosen to host to 1950 FIS World Championships. The area continued to grow and three more skiing areas would be developed: Buttermilk and Aspen Highlands in 1958, followed by Snowmass, which would open in 1969. In 1977, notorious serial killer Ted Bundy escaped from a second story window in the Pitkin County Courthouse. He hid out on Aspen Mountain for six days before being arrested trying to drive a stolen vehicle out of town.
Aspen is the smallest radio market tracked by Arbitron having only two radio stations, KSNO and KSPN. There are also two local lifestyle television stations, TV Aspen and Plum TV Aspen. The Aspen Times and the Aspen Daily News are the city's daily newspapers.
The growth of Aspen as a playground for the rich and famous has driven up property values in recent years, forcing much of the city's labor force to commute from neighboring towns like Basalt and Carbondale. The downtown area is an upscale shopping district with a variet of high-end restaurants, salons, and boutiques. Aspen today is a wide mix of luxury homes and condos intertwined with legacy residences and mobile home parks that serve as home base for an old guard of Aspen residents fighting to keep the city's character alive. As of 2008 the average listing price for a home in Aspen was nearly 1.8 million and the average value of proprties in the community was even higher.
Aspen sits on the southeastern edge of Roaring Fork Valley on the banks of the Roaring Fork River, a tributary of the Colorado. The city lies 40 miles south of Glenwood Springs, surrounded by Red Mountain to the North, Smuggler Mountain to the east, and Aspen Mountain to the south.