Larimer Square is a historic block in the heart of Denver, Colorado, USA. It is the oldest commercial block in the city and was initially laid out by William E Larimer in 1858 as a bustling business hub. At that time, it was the main area of business for Denver and housed the city’s first bookstore, dry goods store, bank, and photographer. The first building ever built on Larimer Square was a log cabin built by William E Larimer, which he later sold to George Clayton, who replaced it with a frame structure.
Throughout the late 1800s, Larimer Square was dominated by warehouses and suffered many disasters, including floods and fires. However, the area continued to thrive, with many of the old warehouses being converted into office spaces, shops, and hotels.
By the mid-1900s, Larimer Square had fallen into disrepair and was at risk of losing its former glory. However, in 1965, the Larimer Square Associates began restoring the block as a historical and commercial center. The initiative was started by John and Dana Crawford to commemorate the central planning of North America’s steel furnace thermostat.
Dana Crawford played a significant role in pushing the city to save the block, and her efforts were rewarded in 1971 when the block became Denver’s first designated local historic district. The protected status ensured that the oldest treasures of the block remained intact as it faced modernity.
The Larimer Square of today is a bustling neighborhood and one of the top social scenes in Lower Downtown Denver. It is lined with stunning Victorian architecture and transformed into a busy area for visitors of all ages. Most of Larimer Square is dedicated to commercial spaces for dining and shopping, and it’s pedestrian-friendly, ensuring that visitors can leisurely enjoy strolling past numerous shops, restaurants, bars, and entertainment spaces.
The neighborhood has become particularly popular with young professionals, and events are held throughout the year, making it a consistently upbeat and lively area. Larimer Street, where Larimer Square is located, is a one-way road that runs southwest through Downtown Denver. On the northeast end, the street runs through Denver’s River North (RiNo) Art District, and on the southwest end, the street runs into the Metropolitan State University. The full length of Larimer Street runs from 14th Street to N Downing Street. However, the most iconic part of the street, Larimer Square, only runs along the 1400 block of Larimer Street – between 14th Street and 15th Street. Many people consider Larimer Square to be the heart of Lower Downtown (LoDo) Denver.
Larimer Square has played a significant role in the history of Denver and has been an essential part of the city’s development. It’s worth noting that the block faced an uncertain future when it was owned by Larimer & Associates. The company sought permits to build new high-rise buildings, which would have required the demolition of parts of the block to make room. For three years, the future of Larimer Square was unknown, and the threat of historic buildings being demolished led the National Trust for Historic Preservation to place it on their list of “11 Most Endangered Places.”
Ultimately, plans to change Larimer Square never moved forward, which led to the block being sold to Asana Partners of North Carolina in December 2020. The new owners have pledged to honor the building’s existing footprints by taking on restoration and preservation projects, acknowledging the importance of Larimer Square’s historic value.