Greeley was named after Horace Greeley, editor of the New-York Tribune, who came to Colorado in the 1859 Pike's Peak Gold Rush. It was founded as the Union Colony in 1869, an experimental utopian society, but the name was later changed in honor of Greeley. Governor Benjamin Harrison Eaton declared Greeley an official city on April 6, 1886.
Greeley was built on farming and agriculture, but kept up with most modern technologies as they grew. Telephones were in town by 1883 with electric lights downtown by 1886. Automobiles were on the roads alongside horse drawn buggies by 1910. KFKA became one of the first radio stations to broadcast in the US in 1922 and the Greeley Municipal Airport was built in 1928. Greeley housed two POW camps in 1943, during World War II. One was for German POWs and the other was for Italian POWs. A vote to allow the sale of alcohol passed by a mere 477 votes in 1969, thus ending temperance in the city.
The Greeley Philharmonic Orchestra was started in 1911. In 1958, Greeley became the first city to have a Department of Culture.
Greeley is located in (or just west of) the area previously occupied by the Overland Trail station of Latham (originally called the Cherokee City Station). The Latham station (also known as Fort Latham) was built in 1862 and named in honor of Milton S. Latham, one of California's early senators. The stagecoach station was at the confluence of the South Platte River and the Cache la Poudre River. Fort Latham was the headquarters of the government troops during the Indian conflicts of 1860–1864 and the county seat (the post office being called Latham).
Greeley began as the Union Colony, which was founded in 1869 as an experimental utopian community "based on temperance, religion, agriculture, education and family values." by Nathan C. Meeker, a newspaper reporter from New York City. Meeker purchased a site at the confluence of the Cache la Poudre and South Platte Rivers (that included the area of Latham, an Overland Trail station), halfway between Cheyenne and Denver along the tracks of the Denver Pacific Railroad formerly known as the "Island Grove Ranch". The name Union Colony was later changed to Greeley in honor of Horace Greeley, who was Meeker's editor at the New York Tribune, and popularized the phrase "Go West, young man".
Nearly 100,000 people call Greeley home, with the University of Northern Colorado, JBS Meats, and a number of oil and gas companies creating a vibrant local economy.
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