Old Colorado City
Anyone new to Colorado Springs might not be sure what people mean when they refer to part of our town as OCC. This is just the locals’ way of saying Old Colorado City. OCC is located on the west side of Colorado Springs, and this area is loved by residents and visitors alike for its unique culture and character.
Tree lined streets and plenty of sidewalks invite you to take a stroll along the main street, pop into small boutiques, visit art stores or enjoy dinner at one of the lovely restaurants.
Have you seen the homes that are centuries old? They have stood the test of time and reflect an era with an abundance of riches and tragedy during the Colorado gold rush.
Old Colorado City was originally founded as Colorado City in 1859 and served as the capitol of Colorado Territory. The capitol was soon moved to Denver because the representatives did not have enough places to reside during the legislative session.
General Palmer purchased land east of Colorado City where Colorado Springs would be built and designated as a cultural center of Colorado Territory. Old Colorado City grew significantly in the late 1800’s because gold was discovered on the western slope of Pike’s Peak. Miners would stock up on provisions in Old Colorado City before heading up the pass to try their luck. Then on on their way back down, the miners would spend their money in OCC’s local watering holes.
Gold ore was processed and gold was extracted in several of the gold mills around Colorado City. It was truly a wild west town with saloons, gaming parlors and brothels. To this day, you can see a contrast between the beautiful homes on the north side of West Colorado Avenue and the south side of West Colorado Avenue where the majority of the saloons and brothels were located. Interesting fact: there were tunnels from the north side to the south side so that gentlemen could enter brothels without being seen.
The alcohol stopped flowing with the prohibition of 1920 and it threw the city into economic hardship. This is when residents decided to become a part of Colorado Springs. You can see a rich history in Old Colorado City that reflects a town with wild west roots.
Colorado Springs is geographically a little lopsided because the center of Colorado Springs is actually in the southwest part of the city. Old Colorado City is located between downtown Colorado Springs and Manitou Springs.
Old Colorado City has always been like the stepchild of Colorado Springs’ grandeur. It’s typically thought of as more blue collar and laid back than the Springs. OCC has developed into a location where you can stroll up and down Colorado Avenue to window shop and enjoy a bit of the small-town vibe without the tourist flair that Manitou Springs has.
Many of the century-old Victorian homes along Colorado Avenue feature various types of businesses, from beauty salons and boutiques to bars and small shops.
You can typically get a whiff of marijuana from just about anywhere in OCC. Aside from the fact that the odor itself is not very attractive, I usually just move along my day. Midland Trail is a great bike path through Old Colorado City, but just a heads up to be aware that it is frequented by the homeless population. Generally, Old Colorado City is a great place to window shop (Delilah’s), get a bite to eat (N3 Taphouse) or grab a beer (Cerberus).
Some of Old Colorado City’s biggest events:
- The Territory Days (May) 3 days of celebration, booths, events, music, and fun. It happens every year at the end of May and is not to be missed!
- Artwalks in Old Colorado City (April-December) Browse the local art galleries and art studios along West Colorado Avenue.
- Starlight Spectacular (June) Every year this special nighttime ride starts from the Garden of the Gods Visitor Center and then travels to Bancroft Park in OCC and back. Riding through downtown Colorado Springs in the middle of the night is a fun change of pace. You can greet the bar goers as they exit the downtown bars and dance places, enjoy the company of many other bike riders, and marvel at the elaborately decorated bikes. It is so much fun! If you have kids that might not be able to make the return trip back to Garden of the Gods, station an extra car at Bancroft park before the start of the ride.
- Extras: Farmers markets in OCC are always wonderful. An early evening stroll when the Christmas lights are on and the snow is slowly falling is just so romantic.
Related Reading: Things to Do in Colorado Springs
Old Colorado City might scare a home shopper at first because it seems to have such an eclectic mix of homes and residents. It would be a challenge to find two homes that are the same: some homes are beautiful and well taken care of, while others look a bit more…neglected. Over the course of more than 100 years of home ownership, there have may have been home expansions, additions, and updates.
Generally, OCC homes are on the small side with about 1000 -1500 square feet above ground. The homes here usually have small rooms and kitchens. Many of the lots have been subdivided to provide more residential homes.
Since the north and south sides of Old Colorado City were originally built for different reasons, you will be able to see these differences when you visit yourself. Small, older businesses, car repair shops and other industrial looking warehouses and businesses can be found along the creek. Alternatively, the north side of Colorado Avenue has a bit more old town charm with elegant, small Victorians and a few craftsmen homes.
There are a few things to keep in mind as you shop for a home in Old Colorado City:
- Be aware that the stated “finished square footage” does not always mean livable square footage. Here are some examples that we have seen in OCC homes:
- Basements with ceilings too low to actually use.
- Converted attics that are too short, tight, or low.
- Stairs that are too steep to have a young child in an upper level bedroom.
- An enclosed porch that is included in the square footage count but really not very usable space.
- Brace yourself.
- Minimal updates. Depending on the home and who has previously owned it, you might find very few updates. Many of the homes were built in the 1890’s to early 1900’s. This means that an update done in 1975 isn’t really an update anymore. Most homes in Old Colorado City have cast iron sewer pipes or clay pipes, possibly lead water pipes, and a small electrical panel (most likely Federal Pacific).
- Structural issues: Have you ever heard of cracks in the walls? They are very common on the west side of Colorado Springs. Homeowners in OCC will soon learn to shrug their shoulders in older homes when the floor feels like a roller coaster, the doorframes are not necessarily perpendicular, and there are cracks in the walls. Homebuyers in OCC should hire a structural engineer for an inspection as soon as their offer is accepted.
- Permits: What permits? It’s great if the previous owner(s) secured one for updates or additions. If not, we advise checking everything out before you purchase or settle (depending on when the “updates” were made).
- Back alleys: Some properties have back alleys with great parking. They can be perfect for a 2-car garage, an AirBnB or a cottage to rent out.
- Encroachments: You have an encroachment if your neighbors built a fence and eyeballed the lot line or were very generous with their assessment of their own lot line. Expect a title company to want an Improvement Location Certificate to see if the lot is fully used or if the neighbor grabbed a little.
- Very few new constructions: You’ll find very few new construction homes other than fill in lots where new homes and townhomes tower over the smaller, older homes. The area south of Highway 24 with Gold Hill Mesa and other smaller neighborhoods does offer some more traditional new construction options.
Who lives here?*
- The median age is 51. Compare that to a hip 36 in the rest of Colorado Springs.
- Density in Old Colorado City is only 407 people per square mile vs 2,304 people per square mile for the rest of Colorado Springs
- The median household income in Old Colorado City is 56% higher than the national average.
- Male median earnings are 41% higher than female median earnings.
- The unemployment rate in Old Colorado City is 20% lower than the national average.
Does Old Colorado City sound like the neighborhood for you? Give us a call (719-321-0800) or email us to view homes in this wonderful area.
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