With the onset of the pandemic, capacity restrictions were imposed on restaurants and shops, threatening their survival. To save them, Denver proposed creating extended pavement patios that could accommodate a larger number of diners while respecting the safety distance.
As a result, outdoor seating and mobile tables, tents and chairs began to colonise the street in Larimer Square, including the right-of-way and adjacent car parks.
More than 300 restaurants participated in the programme. For the businesses that utilised them, Denver’s expanded patios have saved more than $280 million in restaurant revenue.
This has made Denver’s streets much more pedestrian-friendly, and it shows in the life they have regained, even in winter. Local artists (@patmilbery, @so_gnarcreativedivision) have joined the initiative by creating amazing murals.
The Larimer Square trial began in May 2020 and was scheduled to end in October 2021, but such has been the success that it has been extended to 2022 and now it is being considered whether to make the street pedestrianised for good.
This has inspired car-free city blocks and Denver plans to become a permanent outdoor dining city. In addition to the Larimer Square intervention, plans also include South Pearl Street and Glenarm Place on the 16th Street Mall.
Streets designed for people foster vibrant local economies, create inviting public gathering places, and connect people when it matters the most.
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Photos by: @larimersquare, @jennifer.koskinen, @captaincoloradophotography