Gold seekers established the first non-native settlement in Boulder County on October 17, 1858 at Red Rocks near the entrance to Boulder Canyon. Less than a year later, on February 10, 1859, the Boulder City Town Company was organized by A. A. Brookfield, the first president, and 56 shareholders. 4,044 lots were laid out at a purchase price of $1,000 each, a price that was later lowered in order to attract more residents.
Competition among Boulder County settlements for new residents and businesses was intense. As a mining supply town, Boulder residents were more settled than in the mining camps. Economic stability was a necessity and residents encouraged the establishment of railroad service, hospital and school buildings, and a stable town government.
Boulder's first schoolhouse was built in 1860 at the southwest corner of Walnut and 15th Street, the first in the territory. Also in 1860 a group of Boulder residents began lobbying to have the University of Colorado located in Boulder. By 1874 Boulder had won the designation, secured a donated 44.9 acre site and raised $15,000 to match a similar grant by the state legislature.
The first Post Office was established in 1860; the telegraph became available in 1874; a hospital was built in 1873; a water system was installed in 1874; and the first bank was built in 1874.
City government was formalized on November 4, 1871 when the town of Boulder was incorporated. The first mayor, Jacob Ellison, was elected for a two month term in 1878.
The initial residential area was located in what is now downtown and in some parts of Goss/Grove, Whittier and Mapleton Hill neighborhoods.
By 1905 the economy was faltering and Boulder counted heavily on tourism to boost its fortunes; however, Boulder had no first class hotel to attract summer visitors and group meetings. By 1906 a subscription drive had raised money to begin construction. The first event at the new hotel was a reception for Boulderites, held on December 30, 1908, and the Hotel Boulderado opened to the public for business on January 1, 1909.