is a Home Rule Municipality spanning Arapahoe, Adams, and Douglas Counties in Colorado. The city is the third most populous city in the State of Colorado and the 61st most populous city in the United States. The population was 276,393 at the 2000 census, with an estimated population of 292,403 in 2007. The city and its western neighbor are the principal cities of the Denver-Aurora Metropolitan Statistical Area, which in 2007 had an estimated population of 2,464,866. (22nd most populous MSA), the estimated population of the Denver-Aurora-Boulder Combined Statistical Area was 2,998,878 (15th most populous CSA).
It originated in the 1880s, as the town 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 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 their township Aurora in 1907, and it slowly began to grow in Denver’s shadow becoming the fastest growing city in the United States during the late 1970s and early 1980s.
Although Aurora has long been considered by many only as one of Denver's larger suburbs, its growing population in recent decades (now over half the size of the City of Denver) has led to efforts for co-equal recognition with its larger neighbor. A former mayor once expressed the somewhat whimsical notion that eventually the area would be called the "Aurora/Denver Metropolitan Area." However, such efforts are somewhat hampered by the lack of a large, historically important central business district in the city, which is largely suburban in character.
World attention focused on Aurora for seven weeks during the fall of 1955, as President Dwight D. Eisenhower recovered from a heart attack at Fitzsimons Army Medical Center. The hospital is also the 1943 birthplace of 2004 Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry. Decommissioned in 1999, the facility is part of the Anschutz Medical Campus of the University of Colorado Denver, and the Colorado Bioscience Park Aurora. The Anschutz Medical Campus also includes the University of Colorado Hospital which moved to Aurora from Denver in 2007. These facilities will employ a workforce of 32,000 at build-out.
In 2004, Aurora was honored as the Sports Illustrated magazine's 50th Anniversary "Sportstown" for Colorado because of its exemplary involvement in facilitating and enhancing sports. Aurora's active populace is also reflected in the variety of professional athletes hailing from the city (see
below). Aurora's first semi-professional sports franchise, the Aurora Cavalry in the International Basketball League, began play in 2006 but folded by seasons end due to budget mishaps.
Aurora has always been awkwardly split between two counties and lies distant from the respective county seats. A consolidated city and county government was considered in the mid-1990s but failed to win approval by city voters. The issue was reconsidered in 2006. Colorado voters created the City and County of Denver in 1902 and the City and County of Broomfield in 2001. A consolidated city and county of Aurora would likely include areas not within the current city limits, but the new city-county boundaries would be set, restricting future expansion.