“Getting old isn’t for sissies,” actress Bette Davis reportedly said. And that’s true not only of people, but the communities in which they live.
On March 22 in 1870, the town of Pueblo was officially incorporated. It was a much smaller community then than it is today, built upon a settlement that grew around El Pueblo trading post.
It would get bigger a few years later when several other independent towns, now neighborhoods, were consolidated into one larger city.
Pueblo long has been known as the Steel City, an acknowledgement of how the steelmaking industry has dominated the local economy for the better part of a century. The steel mill attracted people from many different cultures to Pueblo. Many of those families who moved here decades ago remain, preserving a legacy that has made our community a socially richer and more interesting place.
The area’s agricultural tradition remains important today.
Pueblo is best known for its green chile, although farmers along the St. Charles Mesa grow a variety of excellent crops that feed the region.
As the hometown of four Medal of Honor recipients, Pueblo also proudly carries the “Home of Heroes” nickname. That sense of pride, which is expressed in many ways, led the Expedia travel website to name Pueblo as one of the country’s most patriotic towns in 2017.
Of course, Pueblo’s 150th anniversary has arrived at a time when many don’t feel like celebrating. The coronavirus has forced us all to temporarily alter the way we live. So, sadly, there will be no big party today in honor of the city reaching this milestone in its history.
Mayor Nick Gradisar was planning to have a major civic celebration for the Fourth of July weekend. Maybe if conditions improve, that still will be possible. If not, we’ll have to do something special next year.
The truth is, communities don’t last unless they are able to weather some adversity. And that’s what Puebloans have done. People who lived here in earlier times had to endure a series of floods, including a big one that happened 99 years ago.
Puebloans have had to live through other difficult times, including two world wars and the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
When the steel industry went into decline in the latter part of the last century, Puebloans had to adjust to that, too. While steelmaking was an important part of the community’s past and remains a major employer in the present, efforts to diversify the local economy have been ongoing since the 1980s.
Despite the challenges Pueblo has faced, there is a lot that’s gone right here over the last century and a half. And much for which we can be thankful.
We’re the home of the Colorado State Fairgrounds, which has provided entertainment and education to millions of people through the years. Lake Pueblo, one of Southern Colorado’s most visited natural attractions, is here.
We have one of the nation’s best library systems and an impressive collection of museums and other cultural amenities. We have a great trails system and a sports complex that draws young athletes and their families from throughout the region.
We have a scenic riverwalk where people can eat, exercise or just relax. We have a historic business district with many great shops and restaurants. And the list goes on and on.
It would be easy to look at the difficulties we’re facing now and despair about where we are at this moment in time. Instead of doing that, we recommend taking this anniversary to reflect back on how far Pueblo has come as a community.
And to think about the amazing potential we have for the future.
Perhaps in another 150 years, people will look back on this part of local history in the same way we do when we think about that great flood in 1921.
The people we inherited this community from made it through that and all the other adversities that came their way. It’s on all of us now to rise to the occasion and do the same.