Downtown

On July 31, 1871, Gen. William Jackson Palmer and a group of citizens gathered at the southeast corner of Pikes Peak and Cascade avenues and declared Colorado Springs to be an established city within the territory of Colorado. They sealed their declaration by driving an iron stake into the ground.

On July 31, 2021, Colorado Springs — now the 39th largest city in the United States — will officially turn 150 years old, and its citizens will once again gather to celebrate.

The city’s sesquicentennial will be celebrated with an array of planned activities throughout the year.

The sesquicentennial kickoff celebration began on New Year’s Eve at 9 p.m. when the Pikes Peak AdAmAn Club presented a fireworks display from the summit of Pikes Peak. 

Club members, joined by Mayor John Suthers, launched 150 shells into the night sky from the summit as a symbol of the 150 years since Colorado Springs was established.

On Jan. 30, the Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum debuts a new exhibit, COS@150.

The exhibit is an exploration of the community’s history and culture that will feature 150 objects, illuminating 150 stories and commemorating 150 years.

It will include the people, places and events that helped shape Colorado Springs. Featured objects range widely in age, size and format to engage, surprise and inform residents and visitors alike. Find more information at cspm.org/exhibits/cos150/.

April 2021 has been designated COS Tree Month.

The city is partnering with local nurseries and Colorado Springs Utilities on a digital media campaign to highlight Colorado Springs’ unique relationship with trees — past, present and future.

The campaign will encourage residents to take part in the COS 150: Tree Challenge, which officially began in 2018. Residents can take part by helping to meet the goal of planting 18,071 new trees by the end of 2021. Citizens can add their tree to the tracker.

On June 12, the Rock Ledge Ranch Historic Site hosts the Beards, Bonnets and Brews Fest.

This family-friendly “back to the future” event is being planned to offer a wide variety of fun-filled activities, including best beard and best bonnet contests, beverage tastings including special local brews and culinary creations from local chefs, live music, and a vintage baseball game.

On July 8, Then and Now, a photo exhibit, opens at Library 21c.

Local photographer Mike Pach of 3 Peaks Photography replicated historic photos as an official part of the sesquicentennial celebration. Fifty pairs of 20-inch by 30-inch photographs, comparing historic and modern people and scenes of Colorado Springs, will be displayed.

The opening reception for the exhibit is scheduled for July 8 at Library 21c. The photos will be on display for two months before traveling to other venues throughout 2021. Catch a sneak peek at ColoradoSprings.gov/150.

On July 17, the Colorado Springs Chamber & EDC is planning a once-in-a-lifetime, sesquicentennial-themed gala, celebrating 150 years of business in Colorado Springs.

This formal, ticketed event is scheduled to be held in The Broadmoor International Center and will feature 1871 décor and food options. Information about ticket sales will be announced later.

On July 31, the sesquicentennial activities reach a peak with the Downtown Festival. A community parade through time will kick off the festivities on Tejon Street, followed by live music, food and fun in downtown Colorado Springs.

A pep rally is being planned to cap the night as Olympic City USA cheers on the athletes representing Team USA in the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020.

The city’s sesquicentennial website at ColoradoSprings.gov/cos-150 is the place to go for event updates, a historical reading list, opportunities to volunteer and to see how businesses and community groups can participate or become event sponsors.

Jeanne Davant is a graduate of the University of North Carolina. She worked for daily newspapers in D.C., North Carolina and Colorado, and has taught journalism and creative writing. She joined the Colorado Publishing House in 2017.