Silver was first discovered by prospectors from Leadville, Colorado in 1879 after a treaty with the Ute tribe opened up the Western Slope of Colorado to entry. Because of difficult access mining development was slow but in 1877 the railroad was extended to Aspen and it grew to a population of 12,000 and 9 million dollars of silver bullion was mined at the height of the boom in 1892.
During the life of the silver boom in Colorado, the price of silver steadily declined. At first it was propped up by purchases by the Federal Government, but in 1893 purchases ceased. Within a few days all the Aspen mines were closed and thousands of minors were put out of work. It was proposed that silver be recognized as legal tender and the Populist Party adopted that as one of its main issues; Davis H. Waite, an Aspen newspaperman and agitator was elected governor of Colorado on the Democratic Ticket; but in time the movement failed.
Eventually, after wage cuts, mining revived somewhat, but production declined and by the 1930 census only 705 residents remained. There was a fine stock of old business blocks and residences and excellent snow. Eventually Aspen was discovered and became a ski resort and cultural center.
As of the census of 2000, there are 5,914 people, 2,903 households, and 1,082 families residing in the city. The population density is 646.9/km² (1,675.4/mi²). There are 4,354 housing units at an average density of 476.2/km² (1,233.5/mi²). The racial makeup of the city is 94.94% White, 0.44% African American, 0.24% Native American, 1.45% Asian, 0.08% Pacific Islander, 1.64% from other races, and 1.20% from two or more races. 6.14% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There are 2,903 households out of which 16.5% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 28.8% are married couples living together, 5.6% have a female householder with no husband present, and 62.7% are non-families. 43.8% of all households are made up of individuals and 4.8% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 1.94 and the average family size is 2.67.
In the city the population is spread out with 13.1% under the age of 18, 9.8% from 18 to 24, 42.1% from 25 to 44, 27.6% from 45 to 64, and 7.4% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 37 years. For every 100 females there are 115.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 117.5 males.
The median income for a household in the city is $53,750, and the median income for a family is $70,300. Males have a median income of $41,011 versus $32,023 for females. The per capita income for the city is $40,680. 8.2% of the population and 3.6% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total people living in poverty, 4.4% are under the age of 18 and 2.6% are 65 or older.