Formally incorporated in 1870, Pueblo has long been a center of commerce. Native Americans settled near the confluence of Fountain Creek and the Arkansas River, followed by Hispanic and European immigrants in the 18th and early 19th centuries. Until the end of the Mexican-American War in 1848, the Arkansas marked the border between the United States and Mexico. Prior to the treaty, three other nations had claimed sovereignty over the settlement; France, Spain, and the Republic of Texas.

By the early 1900s, Pueblo was the most prosperous, powerful, and diverse industrial city in the Mountain West. The sprawling steel mills of Colorado Fuel & Iron and vast rail yards moored its economy for much of the 20th century, until CF & I closed in 1982.

With its economy shattered and an unemployment rate of more than 20 percent, Pueblo had to reimagine, reinvent, and rebuild. The smelters, blast furnaces, and crowded rail yards were gone —what would the future resemble? One solution: to reactivate Pueblo’s historic downtown by creating a safe, beautiful, pedestrian-friendly riverwalk. It was an expensive and audacious plan; one that took years to design, construct, and refine.

The Historic Arkansas Riverwalk of Pueblo (HARP) opened 18 years ago. It has since grown and expanded, igniting businesses and catalyzing downtown development. A once dreary industrial wasteland has been transformed into an amazing regional asset for residents and visitors alike.

HARP anchors a revived downtown, featuring museums, galleries, creative centers, and beautifully renovated 19th century buildings. A locale that once seemed on the verge of disintegration has been reborn — affordable and welcoming, this intriguing city has come into its own.