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Thornton, Colorado
Home rule municipality
City of Thornton
Thornton welcome sign on Interstate 25.
Thornton welcome sign on Interstate 25.
Flag of Thornton, Colorado
Location of the City of Thornton in Adams and Weld counties, Colorado.
Location of the City of Thornton in Adams and Weld counties, Colorado.
Thornton, Colorado is located in the United States
Thornton, Colorado
Thornton, Colorado
Location in the United States
Country  United States
State  Colorado
Counties Adams County
Weld County
City Thornton
Incorporated June 12, 1956
Named for Daniel I.J. Thornton
 • Type Home rule municipality
 • Total 37.947 sq mi (98.282 km2)
 • Land 35.924 sq mi (93.043 km2)
 • Water 2.023 sq mi (5.239 km2)
5,351 ft (1,631 m)
 • Total 141,867
 • Rank 6th in Colorado
191st in the United States
 • Density 3,949/sq mi (1,525/km2)
 • Metro
2,963,821 (19th)
 • CSA
3,623,560 (17th)
 • Front Range
Time zone UTC−07:00 (MST)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−06:00 (MDT)
ZIP codes
Denver 80221, 80229, 80233, 80241, 80260
Brighton 80602
Area code(s) Both 303 and 720
FIPS code 08-77290
GNIS feature ID 0181265
Highways I-25 (CO).svg I-76 (CO).svg US 87.svg Colorado 7.svg Colorado 44.svg Colorado 224.svg
Website City of Thornton
Sixth most populous Colorado city

The City of Thornton is a home rule municipality located in Adams and Weld counties, Colorado, United States. The city population was 141,867, all in Adams County, at the 2020 United States Census, an increase of +19.44% since the 2010 United States Census. Thornton is the sixth most populous city in Colorado and the 191st most populous city in the United States. Thornton is 10 miles (16 km) north of the Colorado State Capitol in Denver and is a part of the Denver–Aurora–Lakewood, CO Metropolitan Statistical Area.


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 located at 39°54′11″N 104°57′16″W / 39.90306°N 104.95444°W / 39.90306; -104.95444 (39.903043, -104.954406).

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 27.2 square miles (70 km2), of which, 26.9 square miles (70 km2) of it is land and 0.3 square miles (0.78 km2) of it (1.25%) is water.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1960 11,353
1970 13,326 17.4%
1980 42,054 215.6%
1990 55,031 30.9%
2000 82,384 49.7%
2010 118,772 44.2%
2020 141,867 19.4%
U.S. Decennial Census

As of the 2010 census, there were 118,772 people, 41,359 households, and 30,254 families living in the city. The population density was 3,409.1 people per square mile (1,316.8/km2). There were 43,230 housing units at an average density of 1,240.8 per square mile (479.3/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 77.4% White, 4.4% Asian, 1.8% African American, 1.1% American Indian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 11.4% from other races, and 3.8% from two or more races. Hispanics and Latinos of any race were 31.7% of the population.

There were 41,359 households, out of which 43.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 54.7% were married couples living together, 6.2% had a male householder with no wife present, 12.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 26.9% were non-families. 20.1% of all households were made up of individuals, and 4.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.86, and the average family size was 3.32.

The distribution of the population by age was 29.5% under the age of 18, 9.1% from 18 to 24, 32.6% from 25 to 44, 22.3% from 45 to 64, and 6.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 32.0 years. The gender makeup of the city was 49.5% male and 50.5% female.

The median income for a household in the city was $65,578, and the median income for a family was $74,233. Males had a median income of $49,154 versus $39,596 for females. The city's per capita income was $26,100. About 7.8% of families and 9.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 14.1% of those under age 18 and 7.4% of those age 65 or over.


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. Thornton has several recreational facilities like the Margaret Carpenter Recreation Center and the Thornton Community Center. Thornton has several golf courses for golfers like Thorncreek Golf Course and Todd Creek Golf.


Major highways in Thornton are I-25, I-76, SH 7, SH 44, SH 224, and E-470.

Thornton is served by the Denver Regional Transportation District (RTD), which provides bus service to Thornton and the rest of the Denver metropolitan area. The agency opened the N Line commuter rail to Thornton in 2020.

The major airport that serves Thornton is Denver International Airport.


Thornton is served primarily by three school districts: Adams County School District 12, Mapleton Public Schools, and Brighton School District 27J. These include: Eight high schools (Thornton High School and Horizon High School {Both Adams 12}, Riverdale Ridge High School {Brighton 27J}, and five of Mapleton's small by design high schools), eleven middle schools (Five in Adams 12, one in Brighton 27J, five in Mapleton) and twenty elementary schools (Twelve in Adams 12, two in Brighton 27J, and six in Mapleton).

There are also several charter schools in or near Thornton, including Stargate School, Colorado Virtual Academy, New America School, Westgate Community Charter School.

Lord of Life Lutheran School is a Christian Pre-K-8 school of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod in Thornton.

Thornton has several libraries and is served by the Rangeview Library District, also known as Anythink Libraries.

Notable people

Notable individuals who were born in or have lived in Thornton include:

  • Tesho Akindele (1992- ), soccer forward
  • Josh Bredl (1991- ), pro wrestler
  • Edward Casso (1974- ), Colorado state legislator
  • John Denney (1978- ), football long snapper
  • Beth Martinez Humenik, Colorado state legislator
  • Mike Manning (1987- ), actor
  • Nikki Marshall (1988- ), soccer forward, defender
  • Mike McCoy (1953-2016), football cornerback
  • Adrian Mora (1978- ), welterweight boxer
  • Joseph Salazar, Colorado state legislator
  • Kyle Sleeth (1981- ), baseball starting pitcher
  • Neal Ulevich (1946- ), photojournalist

See also

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