U.S. National Historic District (Downtown)
Location: 38.854994 N, 104.905839 W
Zip Code: 80829
Area Code: 719
Population: 4989 (1990 Census)
Major Industry: Tourism
Major Income Source: Business Taxes; property and income taxes are a very minor source in relation.
The local government is a 5 person City Council made up of the mayor (currently Marcy Morrison)and four representatives from various districts about town, who then appoint various positions, such as the City Manager. Elections take place every 4 years.
Notable power blocs within the city are the Manitou Historical Society
, which desires to keep Manitou in a perpetual state of unchangingness, and the business owners, who desire, among other things, greater parking availablity.
The town is, essentially, a strip town with one major avenue (Manitou Ave.) running down the center. This is the effect of the local geography; Manitou was built in a valley, and as such, all the streets running parallel to Manitou Avenue (once within the downtown area) are up on the hill side. Though the town has expanded beyond the valley toward Garden of the Gods, this area is principally residential, with a few businesses scattered about it, and receives little visitation from the tourist masses, except as a place to pass through on the way to the Garden of the Gods. Downtown is, of course, the major business district, and begins one block after Memorial Park ends, as one passes the library going west.
Contained within downtown are businesses, predominantly of the tourist retail/antique persuasion, though there are a (very) few exceptions--a barber shop and a small corner store. There is also a very high density of both restaurants, lodgings, and new-age stores.
It is well to note that, due to the local mineral springs (hence the name), local history, and a rather large influx of hippies during the 70s, Manitou has a rather high new-age draw, and a very large artist concentration. Some (mostly those in near-by Colorado Springs) call Manitou the "Witch" capital of Colorado, though this is rather over doing the matter. (Commentary on this may be found "This American Life" epsiode 77, "Pray", at roughly 22:18. The episode is avalable in Real Audio at This American Life. Please take it with a very healthy grain of salt.)
The major attraction of the town is Pike's Peak
, and at 14,110 ft, the most notable mountain on the western front. Manitou is built in the shadow of this mountain, to the extent that the face cannot be seen at all from downtown. To reach the top and the Summit House, one may take the Cog Railroad up--a 3 hour journey--drive the Pike's Peak toll road, or use one's legs by hiking up Barr Trail
. In addition to the grandeur of the mountain, it is involved in a number of local events: the Pike's Peak Marrathon
and the Pike's Peak Hill Climb
, though the latter has been waning in recent years and is expected to be discontinued.
In an effort to drum up more tourism, and hence revenue, the city also sponsors a number of local events. At Mardi Gras time, there is a parade and ball known as Carnivale, which has been growing in size and popularity; the Emma Crawford Coffin Races, held on Manitou Avenue around Halloween
; Clayfest, which is usually held on Labor Day weekend, consists of potters bringing out their wares, various competitions, and activities for interested onlookers; and quite a number of arts-and-crafts fairs, usually held in Memorial Park.
Finally, there are the springs of Manitou Springs' namesake. They are natural mineral springs, occasionally carbonated, that come up, though they are not heated. Some, also, are not accessible to everyone, and some are not currently flowing. These include the Ute Spring, the Spa, and the Shoshone. All the water is potable, unless noted by the city for some reason (vandals, problems with some fountain built on the spring, etc).
Manitou, being a very small town, is often over-shadowed by its vastly larger neighbor Colorado Springs
, which begins one or 2 miles from the eastern edge of Manitou. Many inhabitants of Colorado Springs do, in fact, hold the view that Manitou Springs is a mere suburb of their city, when it is not. Granted, the cities do share a great deal of history, and even have a co-operative fire protection and tax base system, the fact remains that they are, indeed, seperate cities.