Location and orientation
Boulder is located in north central Colorado, at the base of the Rocky Mountains. For newcomers arriving at Denver International Airport and heading northwest toward Boulder, the view of the wall of mountains rising up from the plain is striking. Boulder is about 48 km/30 mi from Denver.
Directly west of Boulder are the Flatirons, stone formations making up the foothills of the imposing Rocky Mountains.
The city area is 66.5 sq. km/24.7 sq. mi, with Boulder Creek flowing through it and the 40th parallel marked by Baseline Road. Other major thoroughfares are the east-west Arapahoe Road and Canyon Boulevard, north-south 28th Street, and Pearl Street with its popular pedestrian area.
Established in 1859 and incorporated in 1871, Boulder's early activity centered around the search for gold and support services such as hardware and mining supplies, room and board, transport, and entertainment. Agricultural concerns took root shortly thereafter.
Forbes Magazine has called Boulder the most educated city in America, and its commitment started early. The first schoolhouse in the state of Colorado was built on Boulder's Walnut and 15th Streets in 1860. Lobbying for a state university began the same year, and in 1877 the University of Colorado opened on The Hill – as University Hill was and is still called today.
Banking, electricity, the railroad, and women's votes all followed within the next 20 years. Just before the century turned, Chautauqua opened as a family retreat; since 1898 it has been hosting visitors seeking respite and enrichment through its natural beauty and its cultural programs.
Further development came in the 1950's, 60's and 70's, with the arrival of IBM, Ball Aerospace, Celestial Seasonings, and the establishment of Naropa University, a Buddhist-inspired, student-centered liberal arts institution.
The latter part of this period also saw Boulder play a role in the hippie movement. And while Colorado is one of only two states with legalized recreational marijuana, Boulder has become an area known for brains, health, and technology start-ups.
The city has a high concentration of employment in several key industry clusters, including aerospace, biosciences, data storage, natural and organic products, outdoor recreation, renewable energy, software, and tourism.
The region's largest employers are University of Colorado Boulder, IBM, Boulder Valley School District, Ball Aerospace, and Boulder Community Hospital.
Local unemployment was around five percent in the first quarter of 2014, with large sections of the workforce engaged in management, financial, and professional occupations.
Smart and entrepreneurial, Boulder residents like to play as hard as they work. With nearly as many bicycles as residents, the city's extensive network of bike paths and routes are well used.
The nearby mountains are a popular destination for hikers, skiers, and snowboarders. And current residents can thank the early inhabitants for their foresight in preserving land. Continuing the first preservationist purchase in 1899, the Boulder County Open Space program today has over 54,000 acres dedicated to parks and open space.
All that being said, Boulder has fast-paced business environment and a dynamic community of scientists, researchers, and entrepreneurs.
Newcomers will experience more diversity of mindset than ethnicity, but Boulder residents are welcoming, its foods are varied and highly praised, and quality of life is ranked very high. Its many accolades include top spots on these lists: 10 Happiest Cities (Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index), Top Brainiest Cities (Portfolio.com), Best Cities to Raise an Outdoor Kid (Backpacker Magazine), and America's Foodiest Town (Bon Appetit magazine).