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Thornton is a home rule municipality in Adams and Weld counties in the U.S. state of Colorado, located in the northeast quadrant of the Denver-Aurora-Broomfield, CO Metropolitan Statistical Area. Thornton is 10 miles (16 km) north/northeast of downtown Denver. The United States Census Bureau reported the city’s growing population at 118,772 on April 1, 2010, a 44.2% increase from the 2000 Census population of 82,384. Thornton is the sixth-most populous city in the state of Colorado and the 213th-most populous city in the United States.
Thornton consisted solely of farmland until 1953 when Sam Hoffman purchased a lot off Washington Street about seven miles (11 km) north of Denver. The town he laid out was the first fully planned community in Adams County, and the first to offer full municipal services from a single tax levy, including recreation services and free trash pickup. Thornton was named in honor of Former Colorado Governor Dan Thornton.
The Thornton Community Association (TCA) was formed in 1954 to help guide the new community’s development. By the end of 1955, Thornton had 5,500 residents in over 1,200 homes. The TCA was instrumental in Thornton’s 1956 incorporation as a city. Oyer G. Leary was elected the first mayor.
Thornton is served primarily by three school districts: Adams County School District 12, Mapleton Public Schools, and Brighton School District 27J. These include four high schools (Thornton High School, Vantage Point High School, Skyview High School, and Horizon High School), five middle schools and fourteen elementary schools. There are several charter schools in or near Thornton: Stargate School, Colorado Virtual Academy, New America School, Westgate Community Charter School.
Thornton has several libraries and is served by the Rangeview Library District.
Thornton has 81 city parks and nearly 2,000 acres (8.1 km2) of parks and open space. There are over 80 miles (130 km) of trails throughout the city. Recreational facilities include the Margaret Carpenter Recreation Center and the Thornton Community Center. Golf courses include the Thorncreek Golf Course and Todd Creek Golf.
Thornton has several shopping areas, such as Larkridge Mall, Thornton Town Center, and Thorncreek Crossing Shopping Center. Larkridge is home to national anchor tenants, big box retailers, and restaurants, and has a pedestrian village. Larkridge is anchored by Colorado’s first Sears Grand store, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Bed, Bath & Beyond, and PetsMart. DaveCo Liquor Store is the largest liquor store in the world.
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