The City of Aurora (/ror/, /rr/) is a home rule municipality located in Arapahoe, Adams, and Douglas counties, Colorado, United States. The city's population was 386,261 at the 2020 United States Census with 336,035 residing in Arapahoe County, 47,720 residing in Adams County, and 2,506 residing in Douglas County. Aurora is the third most populous city in the State of Colorado and the 51st most populous city in the United States. Aurora is a principal city of the DenverAuroraLakewood Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) and a major city of the Front Range Urban Corridor.
Before European settlement, the land that now makes up Aurora was the territory of the Arapaho, Cheyenne, Nu-agha-tv-p (Ute), and Oeti akwi (Sioux) tribes.Aurora originated in the 1880s as the town of Fletcher, taking its name from Denver businessman Donald Fletcher who saw it as a real estate opportunity. He and his partners staked out four square miles (10km2) east of Denver, but the town - and Colorado - struggled mightily after the Silver Crash of 1893. At that point Fletcher skipped town, leaving the community with a huge water debt. Inhabitants decided to rename the town Aurora in 1907, after one of the subdivisions composing the town, and Aurora slowly began to grow in Denver's shadow becoming the fastest-growing city in the United States during the late 1970s and early 1980s. Aurora, composed of hundreds of subdivisions, thus carries the name of one of the original development plats from which it sprang.
Aurora's growing population in recent decades has led to efforts for co-equal recognition with its larger neighbor. Former mayor Dennis Champine once expressed the somewhat whimsical notion that eventually the area would be called the "Aurora/Denver Metropolitan Area". Indeed, since the 2000 Census Aurora has surpassed Denver in land area, and much of Aurora is undeveloped, while Denver is more fully built-out. However, such efforts are somewhat hampered by the lack of a large, historically important central business district in the city. Aurora is largely suburban in character, as evidenced by the city's modest number of multi-story buildings.
A large military presence has existed in Aurora since the early 20th century. In 1918, Army General Hospital #21 (later renamed Fitzsimons Army Hospital) opened, with the U.S. government expanding and upgrading the hospital facilities in 1941 just in time to care for the wounded servicemen of World War II. Lowry Air Force Base was opened in 1938, straddling the border of Aurora and Denver. It eventually closed in 1994, and has been redeveloped into a master-planned community featuring residential, commercial, business and educational facilities. In 1942, the Army Air Corps built Buckley Field, which has been renamed Naval Air Station, Buckley Air National Guard Base, Buckley Air Force Base, and finally Buckley Space Force Base. The base, home of the Buckley Garrison and the 140th Wing Colorado Air National Guard, is Aurora's largest employer.
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