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Boulder, Colorado

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City of Boulder
Template:Pluralize from text
Template:Pluralize from text
Location in Boulder County and the State of Colorado
Location in Boulder County and the State of Colorado
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CountryUnited States
CountyBoulder County Seat[1]
Settled1858 as Boulder City, N.T.
 • TypeHome Rule Municipality[1]
 • MayorMatthew Appelbaum
 • Deputy MayorLisa Morzel
 • Satellite city25.4 sq mi (65.7 km2)
 • Land24.4 sq mi (63.1 km2)
 • Water1.0 sq mi (2.6 km2)
5,430 ft (1,655 m)
 • Satellite city97,385 (city proper)
 • Density3,884.1/sq mi (1,499.9/km2)
 • Metro
Demonym(s)Template:Pluralize from text
Time zoneUTC-7 (MST)
 • Summer (DST)UTC-6 (MDT)
ZIP codes[3]
80301-80310, 80314, 80321-80323, 80328, 80329
Area code(s)Template:Pluralize from text
FIPS code08-07850
GNIS feature ID0178680
HighwaysUS 36, SH 7, SH 52, SH 93, SH 119, SH 157
WebsiteCity of Boulder
Eleventh biggest Colorado city

Boulder is a city in the state of Colorado, in the United States. It is the county seat[4] of Boulder County. Boulder is in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. The city's height is 5,430 feet (1,660 m). It is 25 miles (40 km) northwest of Denver. In 2011, there were 98,889 people living the City of Boulder.[5] The Boulder Metropolitan Statistical Area has 294,567 people living in it.[6]

Boulder is famous for its history and its Western traditions. In the late 1960s, lots of hippies moved to Boulder. The main campus of the University of Colorado, the University of Colorado at Boulder, is also here. CU Boulder is the biggest university in Colorado. The city is thought to be one of the best cities for health, well-being, quality of life, education, and art.[7]


Panorama print of Boulder, 1900

On November 7, 1861, the government decided to build a university in Boulder. The legislature decided that the university would be run by the state. The first building was built in 1875. The cornerstone for the Old Main Building was laid on September 20, 1875. The university was officially opened on September 5, 1877.[8]

In 1907, the city of Boulder passed an anti-saloon ordinance. This law said that saloons and bars could not do business in the city, and that people could not drink alcohol.[9] In 1916, the entire state of Colorado started prohibition. In US History, the "Prohibition Era" was a time when all alcohol was illegal. People could not make, drink, buy, sell, or serve alcohol. Prohibition ended in 1933, when the Twenty-first Amendment to the United States Constitution was passed by Congress.[10]


Historical populations
Census Pop.
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The 2010 United States Census said there are 94,673 people living in the City of Boulder. These people make up 16,788 families and 39,596 households.[12] The population density was 3,884.1 people per square mile (1,499.9 people/km²). Boulder's population density is higher than Denver's, and the third highest in the state. (Englewood and Northglenn have higher population densities.) According to the census, the people living in Boulder are 88.3% White, 1.2% black or African-American, 0.48% Native American, 4.02% Asian, 0.05% Pacific Islander, 3.5% of another race, and 2.4% of two or more races. 8.9% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.[12] In December 2009, the U.S. Census Bureau estimated that the population of Boulder was 98,889 people.[5]


Boulder's famous rock formations, the Flatirons.

The City of Boulder is in Boulder Valley. This is a place where the Rocky Mountain meet the Great Plains. To the West of the city are some rock formations called the Flatirons. These are large flat pieces of sedimentary stone that are tilted up on the foothills. The Flatirons are famous as a symbol of Boulder.

Boulder Creek flows through the City. Boulder Creek was named a long time before the city was built. It was named after the big granite boulders that have fallen into the creek over the years. Historians think that Boulder City was named after Boulder Creek. The water in Boulder Creek comes from melting mountain snow and small rivers West of the city. Boulder Creek is a tributary of the South Platte River.

Boulder covers 25.4 square miles (66 km2) according to the U.S. Census Bureau. This includes 24.4 square miles (63 km2) of land and 1.0 square mile (2.6 km2) (3.94%) of water.

The 40th parallel (40 degrees north latitude) runs through Boulder. Baseline Road runs along the parallel today.

Flagstaff Mountain overlooks Boulder. The city is a few miles east of the Continental Divide and about 25 miles (40 km) northwest of Denver. Denver International Airport is about 50 miles (80 km) southeast of Boulder.[13] The city gets its water from Arapahoe Glacier and Boulder Creek.[14]


Autumn in Boulder brings many sunny days
Snowfall is common in Boulder throughout the winter

Boulder has a dry climate. (Much of Colorado is dry.) It has many sunny or mostly sunny days every year. According to the Köppen climate classification, the city's climate is "semi-arid" (Köppen BSk).[15] Winters are cool, but sometimes can get very cold. During the winter, the high temperature is usually in the mid- to upper- 40s°F (7–9 °C). The low temperature in winter can be below −10 °F (−23 °C) on a few nights. Usually it does not stay below 0 °F (−18 °C) for many days at a time.

Even though it is cold in the winter, Boulder does not get as much snow as the mountains. This is because of something called orographic lift. This means that the mountains in the west dry out the air as it passes over the Front Range. By the time the air gets to Boulder, most of the water and snow has been removed. Sometimes there are heavy snow storms, but not too often. The average amount of snow in Boulder is 85 inches (220 cm) per season, total. Usually only a few inches fall at a time. Because Boulder is so high up, the sun is very strong and hot, so the snow melts quickly. Sometimes Chinook Winds will make the temperature go up quickly and have the snow melt even faster.

Summer in Boulder is hot and dry. Usually there are 27 days during the summer that reach 90 °F (32 °C) or above. It is much cooler at night because of how high up the city is. The hottest temperature ever was on June 23, 1954 and July 11, 1954. On those days it was 104 °F (40 °C). The coldest temperature was in February 1989 and December 1990, when it was −24 °F (−31 °C).

Climate data for Boulder, Colorado
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 73
Average high °F (°C) 45.7
Average low °F (°C) 19.2
Record low °F (°C) −22
Precipitation inches (mm) .70
Snowfall inches (cm) 11.5
trace 0
Avg. precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in) 4.7 5.7 7.5 9.5 12.1 9.5 11.5 10.3 8.2 6.4 5.5 5.6 96.5
Avg. snowy days (≥ 0.1 in) 4.6 5.3 5.8 3.9 .3 0 0 0 .6 1.5 4.7 5.0 31.7
Source #1: NOAA (normals, 1971–2000)[16]
Source #2: (extremes)[17]

Politics and government

Boulder is a Home Rule Municipality. In Colorado, this means that Boulder's government was formed according to three different legal documents. These documents are: Article XX of the Constitution of the State of Colorado; Title 31, Article 1, Section 202 of the Colorado Revised Statutes; and Boulder's own Home Rule Charter.

Boulder is very liberal and very Democratic. As of April 2012, registered voters in Boulder County were 41% Democrat, 20% Republican, 1% other parties, and 38% unaffiliated (not any specific party.)[18] Boulder county includes the conservative suburbs of Boulder City. Boulder is sometimes called the "People's Republic of Boulder" or "25 square miles surrounded by reality." This is a lot like nicknames given to other liberal cities that have more conservative areas surrounding them, like Columbia, Missouri, Madison, Wisconsin, and Austin, Texas.

Boulder was the first city in Colorado to pass a law that made it illegal to discriminate against people because of their sexual orientation. This law was passed by the Boulder City Council in 1974. The law was repealed (cancelled) by the voters that same year. In 1975, Boulder became the second city to ever grant a same-sex marriage license. The license was given by Boulder County Clerk Clela Rorex. Soon after a law was passed that said that marriage licenses could not be given to people of the same gender.[19] In 1987, the people of Boulder voted again to make it illegal to discriminate against people because of their sexual orientation. This was passed by popular vote. Boulder became the first city in the United States that had this kind of a law that was passed by a direct vote of the people.

Sister cities

Boulder has seven official sister cities:[20]

There are several landmarks in Boulder in honor of the sister cities. The Sister City Plaza was dedicated in May 17, 2007. It is on the east lawn of Boulder's Municipal Building. The plaza was built in honor of Boulder's relationships with its sister cities.[21]


  1. 1.0 1.1 "Active Colorado Municipalities". State of Colorado, Department of Local Affairs. 
  2. "Colorado Municipal Incorporations". State of Colorado, Department of Personnel & Administration, Colorado State Archives. December 1, 2004. 
  3. "ZIP Code Lookup" (JavaScript/HTML). United States Postal Service. 
  4. "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 "Table 3. Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Incorporated Places in Colorado: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2011" (CSV). 2011 Population Estimates. U.S. Census Bureau, Population Division. June 20, 2006. 
  6. Annual Estimates of the Population of Metropolitan and Micropolitan Statistical Areas: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2011, U.S. Census Bureau,, retrieved 2012-12-06 
  7. "Best of Boulder". City of Boulder. 
  8. "C.U. History". BoulderGuide. June 30, 2009. 
  9. "A Boulder Timeline". Boulder History Museum. 
  10. "Brief History of Colorado". 
  11. Moffatt, Riley. Population History of Western U.S. Cities & Towns, 1850–1990. Lanham: Scarecrow, 1996, 67.
  12. 12.0 12.1 "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  13. "Contact." Sirna Therapeutics. December 8, 2004. Retrieved March 3, 2012. "2950 Wilderness Place Boulder, CO 80301"
  14. "Boulder Area Sustainability Information Network". Boulder Community Network. August 27, 1999. 
  15. D. B. Crawley (2007). "Creating weather files for climate change and urbanization impacts analysis". Proceedings of Building Simulation: 1075–1082. 
  16. "Climatography of the United States No. 20 1971–2000: BOULDER AP, CO" (PDF). National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. July 2011. 
  17. "Monthly Averages for Boulder, CO". The Weather Channel. 
  18. "Voter Registration Statistics". Boulder County. 
  19. Herel, Suzanne (February 14, 2004). "San Francisco not the first to marry couples of the same gender". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2010-12-09. 
  20. "Boulder Sister City Program". City of Boulder, Colorado. 
  21. The Boulder Sister City Plaza