Larimer Square Illustration

EXPERIENCE LARIMER SQUARE THROUGH THE AGES

1861 territory

1858

Green Russell founds Auraria

West of Cherry Creek, Larimer Street began in Auraria where Green Russell and a group of fellow Georgians settled after their original strike sparked the Colorado gold rush. The street gets its name from General Larimer, who built Denver’s first residence with doors made from coffins. Larimer founded Denver City on November 22, 1858, which annexed Auraria in 1860 in a moonlight ceremony on the Larimer Street bridge.

1861

colorado becomes a territory

Denver, then known as Denver City, is officially chartered and Larimer Street becomes the city’s main street.

1861 territory
As the photo above shows, southern Arapahoe initially shared the site of Denver with pale-faced newcomers. Source
1863 fire
Businesses on Larimer Street, Denver, Colorado
Artist: William Gunnison Chamberlain, 1866 | Source

1863

a fire in denver

Denver buildings were built almost exclusively from wood. When a fire broke out at a saloon called The Cherokee House on April 19th, more than 70 buildings turned to ash Larimer Street was lucky to escape the huge fire, but afterwards a law was enacted requiring buildings be made from brick or stone.

1873

the kettle arcade is built

George Kettle built the Kettle Arcade between two existing buildings, using the neighboring structures as side-wall support and building only front and rear walls for the Kettle Arcade itself. The building was decorated with key figures from Denver’s early history, including Larimer himself, Chief Little Raven, sharpshooter Annie Oakley, con man Soapy Smith and Denver Mayor Robert Speer.

1873 Kettle Arcade
1882 The Granite Building

1882

THE GRANITE BUILDING

Once named the Clayton Building, this iconic structure was erected on the site of William Larimer’s log cabin by George Washington and William M. Clayton, whose initials remain in the rooftop cornice of the building. G.W. Clayton, a pioneer real estate tycoon, founded Denver’s Clayton College for poor orphans. Later the building became the Granite Hotel and offices.

1893

THE SILVER CRASH

After the silver crash, Colorado and “the Silver State” sank into a depression, as silver had become the lead industry. Once prosperous Larimer Street became frozen, an architectural museum with little major new building development and by 1900 had become Denver’s Skid Row.

The Silver Crash
Prohibition

1916

PROHIBITION PUTS LARIMER BACK ON THE MAP

The onset of state-wide prohibition in 1916 transformed Gahan’s Saloon into Gahan’s Soft Drink Parlor. However, legend has it that the basement housed Denver’s hottest speakeasy.

1950's

LARIMER CAN’T COME BACK FROM THE BRINK

Following WWII, most of Denver started to boom. Larimer Street, however, still housed 46 bars, 57 flophouses, 17 pawn shops and 22 secondhand stores. The city began to consider demolition of old Larimer Street, including the 1400 block.

1950 Larimer Square
: Dana Crawford shown here with Denver mayor Tom Currigan in front of Lincoln Hall. Source

1965

DANA CRAWFORD SAVES LARIMER SQUARE

Denverite Dana Crawford forms Larimer Associates, to change the face of the 1400 block of Larimer Street by refurbishing the buildings, creating courtyards and leasing to office and retail tenants. In doing so, Larimer Square was born, and the 1400 block was saved from demolition by the Denver Urban Renewal Authority in 1965.

1971

LARIMER SQUARE IS NAMED DENVER’S FIRST HISTORIC DISTRICT

1971 History
2003 Noel Building

2003

THE NOEL BUILDING IS ERECTED

Larimer Square’s newest project was built to house The Capital Grille. The Noel Building was named for Larimer Square associate Noel Congdon and historian, Tom Noel.

2015

LARIMER SQUARE CELEBRATES 50 YEARS

In Larimer Square’s 50 years, it has transformed from a famed skid row to a city center ripe with one-of-a-kind offerings. The Square’s oldest retailer, Gusterman Silversmiths, opened its doors in 1966 and remains a treasured tenant today.

The 1978 opening of The Market has stood the test of time as well, and many notable and award-winning chefs have joined the success of The Square. Chef Jennifer Jasinksi’s Rioja and chef Troy Guard’s TAG Restaurant are among these, proving that Larimer Square is constantly evolving as one of Denver’s most prized spaces.

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