There’s more than what meets the eye in our charming downtown
Learn all of this and more on our Downtown Colorado Springs food tours!
1. Colorado Springs has 7 different sister cities around the world
Any idea why Colorado Springs has a traditional Japanese Torii gate in one of its medians? Colorado Springs has a sister city in Japan, Fujiyoshida, which also sits at the base of a mountain and has an economy centered on tourism and the military. This structure, along with a couple of others throughout downtown, was a gift from Fujiyoshida in 1966. But Colorado Springs doesn’t just have one sister city…it has six! Ancient Olympia, Greece; Bankstown, Australia; Bishkek, Kyrgystan; Kaohsiung, Taiwan; Neuvo Casas Grandes, Mexico; and Smolensk, Russia are all sister cities to Colorado Springs. Read more about our sister cities here.
2. Founding father Palmer had a horse named Diablo, who may have lead to his early death
William Jackson Palmer loved horses, and his favorite was the one he’s riding on in this statue in the middle of the intersection of Platte Ave. and Nevada Ave., Diablo. Three years prior to the end of his life, Palmer became paralyzed after one of his horses bucked him off. Could it have been Diablo? Perhaps he was simply living up to his name! In this statue, Palmer is looking toward the mountains, signifying his lifelong love and passion: colonizing the west.
3. The El Paso Club on Tejon Street still prohibits female membership, holding to tradition as one of the oldest men’s only clubs left in the United States
The El Paso Club is one of the oldest private men’s-only clubs left in the United States since pre-prohibition. It’s had the same home for over 125 years at the corner of Tejon St. and Platte Ave., which was a former primary residence of Colorado College professor. Built in a Queen Anne architectural style, it is believed that the long corridor to the left of the front door, which is now used as a dining hall, was originally a bowling alley.
4. That metro station entrance? It’s actually a hidden restaurant!
The Rabbit Hole is a hip underground bar and eatery accessible through a door that looks more like a subway stop than a restaurant. With a full bar and dinner menu, The Rabbit Hole has an Alice in Wonderland theme, but with a bit of morbid twist. This is fitting, since the owner claims this space was the original city morgue! Visit them while on our Original Colorado Springs Food Tour and don’t forget to ask them about their ghost stories.
5. Palmer’s wife, Queen, was the first advocate of education in Colorado Springs
William Jackson Palmer’s wife, “Queen,” started the first school in Colorado Springs in downtown with only seven students. At the time in the 1870’s, it was simply called Colorado Springs High School, but the name was changed to William Jackson Palmer High School in 1940. Though Queen was the one who started the high school, her namesake is actually carried on through the Queen Palmer Elementary School located on Yampa St. and Union Blvd.
6. After striking it big with the Independence Lode, Stratton would have rivaled Warren Buffet today in terms of wealth
If Winfield Scott Stratton lived in today’s times, the fortune he amassed through the Independence Lode in Cripple Creek on July 4, 1891 would have put him in league with Warren Buffet. Though rich, he was quite generous. Stratton was responsible for the Colorado Springs & Interurban Railway that connected downtown with Manitou Springs as well as the land on which City Hall and the Post Office were built. But among one of the most prominent buildings he had built was the Mining Exchange located at the corned of Nevada Ave. and Pikes Peak Ave. This is where people would come and buy and sell their stocks – think the New York Stock Exchange of today – but here in downtown Colorado Springs! Today, it’s home to a Wyndham boutique hotel. Be sure to check out the original vault in the lobby!
7. Our state flower, the Columbine, was discovered during an exhibition to the top of Pikes Peak in 1820
The Colorado State flower is the columbine, but most of you probably knew that! But do you know how and who founded it? The year was 1820 when Edwin James, a botanist, and his French travel companion, Bijou, made a trek to the top of Pikes Peak. Along the way, James stumbled upon the natural mineral springs of Manitou Springs (the same ones the Native American Indians knew about for decades!) along with the columbine. He was struck by the beauty and uniqueness and declared it the state flower – why not, right!? And of course, that’s how we got our downtown street named Bijou, too.
8. Zebulon Pike never actually reached the top of his namesake mountain, Pikes Peak
Pikes Peak was name after Zebulon Pike…but did you know that he never actually climbed the mountain? Caught in bad weather in 1805, Pike never made it to the top. The mountain continued to be named after him, and originally “Pike’s” did have an apostrophe.
Learn all of this and more on our food tours in downtown Colorado Springs! We pride ourselves on knowing the best places to dine, but we also have fun with history and local fun facts.
Cheers! Your Friends at Rocky Mountain Food Tours