About 10 miles from Boulder and just over 20 miles from Denver, Louisville is a small Colorado community with a rich history and a vibrant culture.

The town is regularly recognized as one of the best places to live due its low crime rate, open space, art scene and thriving economy.

But Louisville's reputation wasn't always so squeaky clean.

A true mining town

Louisville was founded in 1878 as a rough mining town that was often wrought with violent strikes.

Only a few years after the famous Ludlow Massacre outside Trinidad, miners in the north would face their own violent conflict. Some 3,000 miners went on strike in 1910 and in 1914, Louisville was the scene of a violent conflict where striking miners exchanged gunfire with "scabs," miners who were hired cheaply to fill positions left by the vacancies. The massacre resulted in one fatality and hundreds wounded.

During those years, a lot of under-the-table, illegal gambling also took place in Louisville.

Louisville between 1885 and 1910 (Photo courtosey History Colorado)
Louisville between 1885 and 1910 (Photo courtosey History Colorado)

People would flock from nearby Boulder and Lafayette to gamble and drink at places like The Blue Parrot, downtown Louisville's most famous restaurant.

The Blue Parrot, located at 640 Main St., remains a well-known watering hole in the town.

In 1950, the mines closed and Louisville converted into a suburb.

Louisville today

Today, Louisville's core is the city's historic downtown district along Main Street.

It's lined with 100-year-old buildings, home to more than 100 businesses: boutiques, coffee shops, yoga studios, and is known to be a thriving art scene complete with galleries and live music every week.

Downtown Louisville
Downtown Louisville

It is also home to Louisville Artists Cohousing, a community that allows artists to live and work together in affordable apartments.

Downtown Louisville is also where you'll find the Louisville Historical Museum complex, which features three buildings constructed between 1903 and 1908. The complex provides tourists with the history of the town, including replica buildings and real coal miners' houses from the late 1800s.

Louisville historical museum
Louisville historical museum

In the summer, the town hosts the Louisville Farmer's Market on Saturdays. The market is fairly small, but popular with residents who come to pick up jars of local honey, farm-fresh veggies, bakes goods and homemade bath soaps and lotion.

Louisville is considered one of the safest mid-size cities (cities with populations between 8,000 to 20,000 residents) in Colorado, with 18 violent crimes per 100,000 people and 309 property crimes per 100,000 people.

A hub of manufacturing and technology

Development in Louisville is buzzing right now.

Last October, locally-based Boulder Creek Neighborhoods and Rocky Mountain Claim Staking broke ground on a $48 million mixed-use project that will bring town-homes and apartments to the east side of downtown, along with retail and office space.

The Colorado Technology Center, Boulder's version of the Denver Tech Center, is also in Louisville.

The complex is home to numerous manufacturing and high tech companies. Last year, the Center signed six new leases for companies to move into or expand into 310,702 square feet of office space.

Medtronic in Louisville
Medtronic in Louisville

The town is also home to Dublin, Ireland-based medical equipment manufacturer Medtronic Corp. The Louisville site employs about 400 workers and serves as the headquarters of the company's spinal and neurosurgery navigation technology group.

It's also home to Sierra Nevada Corp. Space Systems, the company that developed NASA's Dream Chaser space plane that is used to deliver cargo to the International Space Station.

Last December, Denver-based Etkin Johnson Real Estate Partners broke ground on a huge, 120,581-square-foot speculative flex industrial building near the Colorado Technology Center. Speculative flex industrial refers to space that is not necessarily leased when construction begins, and has room for office space.