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Under four square miles in size, Aspen stands tall—about 8,000 feet. Its history glitters silver, owing its emergence to the mining of the metal. Formerly the land of Ute Native Americans, prospectors began incorporating this snowy dot of central Colorado in hopes of gleaning riches from its land, where one of the world’s most lucrative lodes of silver had been discovered. By 1880 numerous camps had been established in the region. Originally dubbed Ute City, the city was quickly renamed; Aspen owes its current name to the surrounding trees.
The city grew from a few hundred residents to over 12,000, but when the nation returned to the gold standard in 1893 the city fell with the value of silver. The population had fallen back into the hundreds when, in 1935, Swiss designer André Roch began development of a ski resort. Mirroring its rocky geography, the city’s economy began its second ascent as a ski capital. By 1948, the city of Aspen had become the first American ski resort to host international athletic competitions.