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Photo Essay: Scenes from Larimer Street

Larimer Square is one of Denver's most iconic places.

Historic buildings line Larimer Square.

The Market at Larimer Square.

Star Bar near 22nd and Larimer.

Biker Jim's Gourmet Dogs began as a hot dog cart on the 16th Street Mall before opening on Larimer.

Ignite! restaurant.

Larimer Lounge and its next-door neighbor.

Our Mutual Friend Brewing Company.

Upper Larimer is a gallery of street art.

The Sacred Heart Catholic Church is the oldest continuously used Denver church.

The Empire Theatre has been vacant for years.

Raquelita's tortilla bakery is nearly anonymous.

Crema Coffee House.

Grafitti and loud murals adorn much of Larimer Street in RiNo.

Yours Truly Cupcake shop.

Finn's Manor.

A random piece of art hangs from a fence.

Outdoor dining area at The Populist.

Infinite Monkey Theorem Urban Winery.

Phil's Place.

Larimer Street is named for Denver founder General William Larimer who staked a claim to what's now LoDo in 1858.

Confluence Denver Managing Photographer Kara Pearson Gwinn captures images of Larimer Street, a microcosm of the ever-shifting city.
Beat legend Neal Cassady's dad was one of the unwashed souls on Larimer Street back when it was Denver's Skid Row. If you were down and out, Larimer offered a friendly spot to sit on the sidewalk in those day.

Times have changed. You can sit on the sidewalk, but it's more likely to be on a contemporary wrought iron chair on a restaurant's patio than the concrete itself.

Named for Denver founder General William Larimer who staked a claim to what's now LoDo in 1858, it's the best known street on the city's downtown grid. It starts on the Auraria campus, makes a subtle jog to the north at Cherry Creek, and runs from Larimer Square between 14th and 15th streets to its endpoint at 36th and Downing streets, a little more than two miles in all.

Once the grittiest street in the city, now it's the beating heart of Denver's revitalized downtown.  Larimer Square's preservation in the 1960s was akin to lighting a smoldering fuse that slowly worked its way northeast. Revitalization crossed Broadway into Five Points and RiNo in recent years, after catalyzing an impressive row of restaurants just to the southwest in Ballpark in the early 2000s.

As coffee shops and craft breweries take over old industrial spots, there are still hints of the old working-class Larimer -- the nearly anonymous Raquelita's tortilla factory at 31st Street, the 1879 Sacred Heart Church (the oldest that's still in use in the city), liquor stores, a few old pawn shops and markets.

But Skid Row has been supplanted by eateries, doggie daycare places, production companies and creative studios. The dive bars have become music venues and hipster hangouts. In the more industrial reaches, there's Our Mutual Friend Brewing Company and The Infinite Monkey Theorem Urban Winery as manufacturing goes craft.

Larimer was Denver's Broadway before Broadway went anywhere, but, as the years passed, it's become something else. If Broadway is the city's spine and Colfax its libido, Larimer might just be Denver's ever-changing soul.

Photos by Kara Pearson Gwinn.
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