In a daze in Denver…Larimer Square

I went for a short ramble looking for some chic shopping and ended up finding Denver’s most historic block.

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As in many large cities, Denver is a mix of very old and very new architecture.

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First, Larimer Square is not square–it is Larimer Street between 14th Street and 15th Street. The historic building in the first photo is on the corner of Larimer and 15th Streets. If you are sure where it begins just look up to the cafe lights strung across the street for the entire block. I imagine it is beautiful after dark.

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About mid-block I saw this sidewalk sign in front of a small store front and found a wealth of interesting information inside.

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The long and very narrow space is a museum of Larimer Square’s past down one wall and an open forum on its future on the opposite wall. Denver City was established when a group of men crossed Cherry Creek and constructed log cabins to claim the land. Additional panels trace Denver’s history for the next 100 years.

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I learned that by the 1960s the area had fallen into disrepair and many of the historic buildings were slated for demolition. Dana Crawford (of the Union Station Crawford Hotel family) started a campaign to acquire the buildings and design an adaptive reuse plan which ultimately resulted in the Square as it is today.

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But nothing ever remains the same and additional development plans for the area are being contemplated. This long butcher paper banner offers Denver residents an opportunity to weigh in on what Larimer Square will look like going into the future. Although it’s hard to see in the photos, an orange dot is placed next to each comment as it is transcribed into the public comment ‘archive’ to be considered by the developers and the city.

Back out on the street I wandered into a tunnel called the Kettle Arcade which leads to a lovely courtyard restaurant.

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As I turn to walk back I realized the ceiling was painted with images depicting characters in Colorado history. I learned that the scenes were add to the arcade of the 1873 building in 1988 by a California company, Evans & Brown, which specializing in murals.  The murals are a segue to tales about state history and include Chief Hosa, Annie Oakley, Soapy Smith, William Larimer and Robert Speer.

At about 12 o’clock in the photo is Chief Hosa who was the Chief of the Southern Arapahoes. Lower left of him is Annie Oakley riding two stallions bareback and proudly waving a 32 star American flag. Below Annie O. is Robert Speer, the first mayor of Denver, sitting on a rock next to Soapy Smith who is playing music as he looks to the Rockies. Soapy Smith is know as the king of the Western con men. He created his own con game in which he stood on a corner and sold cubes of laundry soap wrapped in paper for $5, telling prospective buyers that he had hidden $50 in every few cubes. General William Larimer is to their left, wearing his Yankee uniform and sitting by his cabin.

Walking the short block on both side I enjoyed all the delightful and unique signage for the the shops and chef-driven restaurants–no fast food or chain restaurants in sight.

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So as to not betray my content focus on gardening–a lovely window box!

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2 thoughts on “In a daze in Denver…Larimer Square

  1. Those trees in the courtyard at the end of Kettle Arcade seem to be honeylocusts. I was told that those were popular street trees in Denver. They are unpopular here, but happen to do well. I like them a street trees because the provide shade without making the sidewalk dark.

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  2. I have to commend you on your excellent coverage , including some historic Denver venues. I thought my stamina was good but you buried me in the dust ! Hope your trip home was trouble free–why does that airport seem more congested than O’hare ?

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