A Brief History
On July 20, 2012, Aurora, Colorado was the site of the third largest mass shooting in terms of number of casualties in United States history at the time, now the eighteenth largest, and the second-deadliest shooting in Colorado after the 1999 Columbine High School massacre. The shooting occurred just after midnight, when James Eagan Holmes opened fire during the midnight premiere of The Dark Knight Rises in a Century movie theater, killing 12 people and injuring 70 others. Although widely known for this tragedy, Aurora, Colorado also counts among the 60 largest cities in the United States, with a population greater than such cities as Pittsburgh, Buffalo or Salt Lake City, but lacks a skyline typical of cities its size, which is due to Aurora’s largely suburban character and relatively small central business district. Indeed, “Original Aurora”, the city’s traditional downtown, has only one building of notable height. During Aurora’s most intense period of growth in the 1970s and 1980s, the area in the geographic center of the city near the I-225 freeway and Aurora Mall (now Aurora Town Center) was envisioned as “Aurora City Center”, a new downtown complete with a collection of tall office buildings; however, these plans have yet to materialize and a large tract of undeveloped land still lies east of Aurora Town Center. As is typical of suburban development patterns of the postwar era, Aurora’s tallest buildings are located along the I-225 corridor, largely either in the vicinity of the Parker Road interchange in the southwestern portion of the city, or near the Colfax Avenue interchange in the northwestern portion of the city, where a large medical services and research campus has emerged. In recent years, a number of hotel properties have also been built in Aurora along I-70 in the environs of Denver International Airport (DIA).
Parker Road / I-225
The area around Parker Road / I-225 saw the city’s first tall buildings rise during the early 1980s, when it was the nation’s fastest-growing city. These buildings could be considered as the eastern fringe of the Denver Tech Center, a concentration of office buildings and hotels along the I-25 freeway in neighboring Denver and Greenwood Village.
Anschutz Medical Campus
The city’s newest tall buildings rose in the early 2000s near Colfax Avenue / I-225 on the Anschutz Medical Campus, the former site of Fitzsimons Army Medical Center, whose main hospital building (Building 500) was Aurora’s tallest building for decades.
Denver International Airport is located on land north of Aurora that was annexed to Denver, making much of Aurora more convenient to DIA than the developed portions of Denver. Indeed, all freeway traffic from DIA to central Denver passes through Aurora on I-70, and several hotels have been constructed in this corridor. A further access route to DIA from Aurora is provided by the E-470 beltway, and a proposed resort and conference center in this corridor may one day feature Aurora’s tallest building.
|1||Pavilion II||13||1981||Office||Parker Road / I-225|
|2||Pavilion I||13||1981||Office||Parker Road / I-225|
|3||Anschutz Inpatient Pavilion||12||2004||Medical||Anschutz Medical Campus|
|4||Research Complex I||12||2004||Office||Anschutz Medical Campus|
|5||Marketplace Tower II||12||1980||Office||Parker Road / I-225|
|6||Marketplace Tower I||12||1979||Office||Parker Road / I-225|
|7||Red Lion Hotel Denver Southeast||12||Hotel||Parker Road / I-225|
|8||The Children’s Hospital at Fitzsimons||10||2007||Medical||Anschutz Medical Campus|
|9||Research Complex II||11||2008||Office||Anschutz Medical Campus|
|10||Leprino Office Building||10||2007||Office||Anschutz Medical Campus|
|11||Academic Office West||9||2007||Office||Anschutz Medical Campus|
|12||Research Complex I North Tower||9||2004||Office||Anschutz Medical Campus|
|13||Building 500||9||1941||Medical||Anschutz Medical Campus|
|14||1470 South Havana Street (former Municipal Building)||8||Office||—|
|15||1450 South Havana Street||8||Office||—|
|16||Fletcher Gardens||8||Residential||Original Aurora|
|17||Crowne Plaza Denver International Airport||6||Hotel||DIA Environs|
|18||Denver Airport Marriott at Gateway Park||6||1998||Hotel||DIA Environs|
|19||Doubletree Hotel Denver-Southeast||6||1983||Hotel||Parker / I-225|
|20||Hilton Garden Inn Denver Airport||6||Hotel||DIA Environs|
|21||Hyatt Place Denver Airport||6||Hotel||DIA Environs|
|22||Aurora Municipal Center||116||5||2003||Government||Aurora City Center|
|23||Medical Center of Aurora South||5||Medical||—|
|24||Aloft Denver International Airport||5||Hotel||DIA Environs|
Proposed new building in Aurora:
|1||Highpointe Conference Resort||13||DIA Environs|
Question for students (and subscribers): Have you ever been to Aurora, Colorado? Please let us know in the comments section below this article.
Your readership is much appreciated!
For more information, please see the following books…
Collins, Sherah J. Aurora (Images of America: Colorado). Arcadia Publishing, 2008.
Reid, Dr. William H. A Dark Night in Aurora: Inside James Holmes and the Colorado Mass Shootings. Skyhorse, 2018.
The featured image in this article, a photograph by Algr of The Century 16 Theater in Aurora, Colorado where the 2012 Aurora shooting took place, photographed the day after the shooting, is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.