The town of Pueblo was organized July 1, 1860. South Pueblo and Central Pueblo incorporated in 1872 and 1882. The "Unifying Link" between South and Central Pueblo was Union Avenue. The 1886 consolidation of the three Pueblo towns brought a tremendous boom to Union Ave. The brick and stone structures seen today replaced original wooden buildings. Most of the stone carvings seen on the Avenue are products of Italian stonemasons.
In the middle of the street in the 200 block stood the famous old Cottonwood Tree. This storied tree was credited with the hanging of some 14 ruffians of the time. Also the first white woman born in Colorado was delivered under its great spreading branches. This same block was a favorite stop for Western legends Wild Bill Hickock, Buffalo Bill Cody, Bat Masterson, Soapy Smith, one of the Wests most famous con men and rascal, and, a host of would be gunmen, cowboys, gold-seekers and assorted drunks.
Famous people of all walks of life came to gamble, buy saddles, bank and be entertained. Part of the entertainment was provided in the second floor brothels where lusty "Soiled Flowers" bestowed their favors. Today you find Art Galleries and other less colorful enterprises. In fact, Pueblo's oldest established Art Gallery is located in the Historic District in the same old formerly bawdy building.
Union Avenue flourished as the center of commerce for Pueblo and indeed all of Southern Colorado until the devastating flood in June of 1921. Inundated with over 10 feet of floodwaters, as shown on this plaque at the Union Depot, the District suffered millions of dollars of losses from the greatest natural disaster to ever strike the entire area. The District was very slow in recovering as most of the loss and devastation was not covered with insurance. Fortunately the well built brick buildings for the most part survived. Some had to be razed and the last of the wood structures were washed away leaving some empty lots in the midst of the District.
Shortly thereafter the District went into a decline which would last some 60 years. Ravished by flood, recession, and the shortages of World War II, the District was a target for total demolition in the early 1960's, however far-sighted local leaders quashed that movement. Gradually businesses were reviving and up-grading.
Envisioning opportunities found in other cities' Historic Districts, a revival movement brought investors and in the 1980's restorations began recreating the ambience of yesteryear. As a visitor today you will find landscaped streets lined with up-scale shops, ethnic and American cafes, an all new Riverwalk and 60 shops for your shopping pleasure. We have become a favorite destination for shopping or just strolling in a friendly, charming place.