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Auraria (from the Latin word for gold) was established a month before Denver, in October 1858, by William Greene Russell. Russell's party of friends and relatives from Georgia were the prospectors who first found gold in the South Platte near its confluence with Cherry Creek in July 1858. Their discovery triggered the Colorado gold rush. After the Russells left to join the Confederacy, Denver annexed their town in 1860.

Denver's oldest neighborhood, bounded by Cherry Creek, West Colfax Avenue, and the South Platte River, evolved into a mixed residential, retail, and industrial area after the railroads arrived. Auraria became the victim of the Denver Urban Renewal Authority in the 1970s, when much of the neighborhood north of West Colfax Avenue was demolished to clear land for the 171-acre Auraria Higher Education Center. South of the campus, many 1880s Italianate homes, modest red brick housing, churches, and businesses linger. Elitch Gardens (1995, Davis and Associates), Denver's grandest amusement park since its 1890 opening, moved to a riverside site in Auraria in 1995. Elitch's lofty observation tower, roller coaster, and Ferris wheel give Denver one of America's dizziest skylines.

Writing Credits

Thomas J. Noel

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