Visions of Vibrancy: Denver's LoDo

The vibrancy of cities comes in all shapes and sizes. Many believe that what works in internationally known cosmopolitan settings may not be applicable for cities in America that have struggled with embracing walkability. If we look hard enough, we may realize that this type of view should be challenged. Despite the diversity around the globe, all lively cities, downtowns, and urban cores have something in common: being pedestrian friendly.

Laid out by William E. Larimer in 1858, Larimer Square is the oldest commercial block in Denver. Designated as Denver’s first local historic district in 1971, Larimer was saved from demolition and restored in 1965. Today, it remains a popular dining, nightlife and entertainment destination.

The Cherry Creek Trail is a 42 mile multi-use path that parallels Cherry Creek between LoDo and Castlewood Canyon near Franktown.

Located at Market and 17th Streets, the Columbia Hotel was originally constructed in 1880.

The Jax Fish House and Oyster Bar opened in LoDo in 1996. The restaurant sources most of the items on its menu from the Northeast.

The Oxford Hotel was designed by Denver architect Frank Edbrooke and completed in 1891. Following World War II, the hotel had declined to be considered a flophouse. The 80-room hotel was restored during the late 1980s.

Looking towards Union Station along 17th Street.

A view of Confluence Park, the South Platte River and Cherry Creek from the 15th Street Bridge.

Completed in 2008, the 200-foot Denver Millennium Bridge connects the 16th Street Mall with Commons Park. The $9 million cable-stayed bridge was designed to honor a milestone in the city’s architectural development.

Looking south down Chestnut Place from 20th Street.

Established in 1988, the Wknkoop Brewing Company is Denver first brewpub. The brewpub is located in the J.S. Brown Mercantile Building which dates back to 1899.

Dating back to 1903, this building was designed by prominent Denver architects Gove and Walsh or the Littleton Creamery. It was later used by the Beatrice Foods Creamery. In 1979, it was converted into office and showroom space. The ground floor is currently occupied by Rodizio Grill and the Icehouse Tavern.

The Milk Market is a 16-concept food hall featuring a local mix of restaurants and bars by chef Frank Bonnano. It is located in a micro-district called the Dairy Block, paying homage to the historic Windsor Dairy.

A look inside the Milk Market at 18th and Wazee Streets. The Milk Market anchors a portion of the former Windsor Dairy. Other tenants include the 172-room Maven Hotel and 260,000-square feet of office space.

Article by Ennis Davis, AICP. Contact Ennis at