Colorado Springs was founded on July 31, 1871 by General William Palmer, with the intention of creating a high-quality resort community, and was soon nicknamed “Little London” because of the many English tourists who came. Nearby Pikes Peak and the Garden of the Gods made the city’s location a natural choice.
Within two years his flagship resort the Antlers Hotel opened, welcoming U.S. and international travelers as well as health-savvy individuals seeking the high altitude and dry climate, and Palmer’s visions of a thriving, quality resort town were coming true. Soon after, he founded the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad, a critical regional railroad. He maintained his presence in the city’s early days by making many grants or sales of land to civic institutions. Palmer and his wife saw Colorado Springs develop into one of the most popular travel destinations in the late 1800s United States.
The town of Palmer Lake and a geographic feature called the Palmer Divide (and other more minor features) are named after him, and a bronze sculpture of Palmer on a horse is prominently displayed downtown in front of Palmer High School, at the center of the intersection of Nevada Avenue and Platte Avenue.