Littleton is the Home Rule Municipality in Arapahoe, Douglas, and Jefferson counties that is the county seat of Arapahoe County, Colorado, United States. The city is a part of the Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO Metropolitan Statistical Area. The city population was 41,737 at the 2010 United States Census, ranking as the 20th most populous municipality in the State of Colorado.
The city of Littleton’s history dates back to the 1859 Pike’s Peak Gold Rush, which brought not only gold seekers, but merchants and farmers to the community. Richard Sullivan Little was an engineer from New Hampshire who made his way out West to work on irrigation systems. Little soon decided to settle in the area at present day Littleton and brought his wife Angeline out from the East in 1862. The Littles, along with many neighbors, built the Rough and Ready Flour Mill in 1867, which provided a solid economic base in the community. By 1890, the community had grown to 245 people and the residents voted to incorporate the Town of Littleton.
Littleton became widely known in 1999 when the Columbine High School massacre occurred at Columbine High School. News media reported that the incident happened in the city, because the school’s ZIP code is primarily associated with Littleton. The school is actually located in adjacent Columbine, an unincorporated community, which is not a place name accepted by the U.S. Postal Service; by default, locations in ZIP code 80123 use “Littleton” in their mailing addresses. Columbine High School is in the Jefferson County school system and is not one of the Littleton Public Schools.
Littleton is located at 39°35′59″N 105°0′39″W (39.599691, −105.010929) at an elevation of 5,351 feet (1,631 m). Located in central Colorado at the junction of U.S. Route 85 and Colorado State Highway 470, the city is 9 miles (14 km) south of downtown Denver and 55 miles (89 km) north of Colorado Springs.