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.
colorado becomes a territory
Denver, then known as Denver City, is officially chartered and Larimer Street becomes the city’s main street.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
LARIMER SQUARE IS NAMED DENVER’S FIRST HISTORIC DISTRICT
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.
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.