Colorado, state, United States: Developments since 1900

Developments since 1900

Large national parks, established in the early 1900s, have provided a continuing source of revenue; tourism has grown steadily. During World War I the price of silver soared again and the economy prospered. The stock-market crash of 1929 and the droughts of 1935 and 1937 brought hardships, but the economy recovered again during World War II, when the state's foods, minerals, and metal products were important to the war effort.

In the mid-1960s Colorado experienced a large influx of new residents and rapid urban growth and development, especially along a strip (c.150 mi/240 km long) centered on Denver and stretching from Fort Collins and Greeley in the north to Pueblo in the south. This growth, combined with the area's high altitude, caused pollution problems, most notably smog. The discovery and exploitation of oil created a boom in the 1970s, which collapsed in the early 1980s. Diversifying industry, swelling in-migration and accompanying construction, and tourism and recreation have since enabled Colorado to rebound, and between 1990 and 2000 it had the third largest percentage of growth of any state in the union. The state drew unwanted attention in 1999 following the shooting at Colombine High School, which left 12 students and one teacher dead. In 2012, a lone gunman murdered 12 and injured 70 others in a shooting at a movie theater in Aurora.

Since 2006, the state's governorship has been held by Democrats. John Hickenlooper (2010-18) was a strong proponent of gun control and expanding access to healthcare; limited to serving two terms, he subsequently was elected to the Senate (2021- ). Although Hickenlooper initially opposed it, Colorado was the first state to legalize the sale of recreational marijuana in 2014. In 2018, Jared Polis, who had served five terms as a Democratic representative to the House (2009-19), was elected governor.

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