Larimer Square is Denver's oldest city block. It is traditionally understood to stretch between 14th and 15th Streets on Larimer Street. It is considered a unique historical district and is not a part of the larger Lower Downtown neighborhood.
The first construction in
Larimer Square dates back to 1858 when General William H. Larimer jumped
the claim of the St. Charles settlement and renamed the area Denver
City. Larimer built a log cabin on what is now the corner of 15th and
Larimer Streets. By 1861 Larimer Street had 25 buildings and it at this
time that Denver City and Auraria, a competing settlement across Cherry
Creek founded by the Russell Party, decided to unite and become one
Larimer Square housed a lot of Denver firsts. It was the
site of Denver's first bank, bookstore, and dry goods store. Also,
Denver's first post office, theater, and city hall.
The area had
become run down and seedy by the 1960s Modern development had moved away
from the downtown area and the buildings were left to decay. Denver
city planners were working in what they called the Skyline Urban Renewal
Project, a plan to re-develop downtown Denver using federal dollars. It
was a success, in that it was around then that Denver developed the
majority of its skyscrapers and gained the downtown skyline that we are
used to, but it also cost Denver much of its historic architecture. The
success of Larimer Square today is largely due to the work of
conservationist Dana Crawford. Beginning in 1963, Crawford directed the
rebirth of the Larimer Square District and ensured that the buildings
that comprised Denver's first city block would not be sacrificed in the
name of re-development. This was one of several historic preservation
efforts that would take place in Denver over the next two decades,
eventually leading to the near total re-development of the Lower
Downtown district and the creation of a lively city center.
Larimer Square, the entire city block, is owned by a single person, real estate developer Jeff Hermanson.
Getting There By Bike...
easiest for me to get to Larimer Square by heading north along the
Cherry Creek Bike Path. This is a nice sheltered path that heads right
into the middle of downtown Denver. You can exit the Cherry Creek path
and reach Larimer Square from either Lawrence or Larimer Streets.