Silver City began as a tough and lawless mining camp in 1870, and struggled for a long time to become a more respectable—and permanent—settlement. Henry McCarty spent part of his boyhood here, perhaps learning some of the ruthlessness that led to his later infamy under his nickname—Billy the Kid. Other mining towns in the area sparked briefly and then died, but Silver City eventually flourished and became the area's
most populated city. Today, even though it has 10,500 residents, Silver City retains a sense of remote wildness—largely due to the nearby Gila National Forest and vast Gila Wilderness.