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Dana Crawford’s Universe
An abridged guide to the places Denver’s preeminent historic preservationist can call her legacy.
With all due respect to Governor John Hickenlooper, when it comes to getting credit for “creating” LoDo, the Gov has nothing on Denver grande dame Dana Crawford. Since saving Larimer Square from bulldozers in 1965, the pioneering Crawford has redeveloped more than 1 million square feet of the city, including the Oxford Hotel, Prospect Park, and the Flour Mill Lofts. “I had an entrepreneurial spirit, and Denver was welcoming of that,” Crawford says of her arrival in Denver in the 1950s. “And I was attracted to all the things people said could not be done.” Like the revival of Union Station as the vibrant heart of the city—a project Crawford grabbed hold of decades ago and hung onto “like a stupid bulldog.” The new, improved Union Station debuts next year as an elegant transportation hub accompanied by several restaurants and a hotel named in her honor. We offer a look at some of the less-well-known places that make up the complicated constellation of Crawford’s Mile High contributions.
Denver Public Library Together with Tattered Cover Book Store owner Joyce Meskis and CSU English professor David Milofsky, Crawford created the Evil Companions Literary Award and event, which has benefitted the Denver Public Library since 2004.
Victoriana Antique & Fine Jewelry
This early Larimer Square shop was started by Crawford.
Parade of Lights
Along with others, Crawford helped come up with the concept for nighttime floats as part of the Downtown Denver Improvement Association way back in 1975.
Crawford has consulted on master plans for Commerce City, Broomfield, Arvada, and Frederick, a northern outpost along Highway 52.
Pat’s Denver’s beloved purveyor of delicious Philly cheesesteaks resides in the bottom of Market Center, another LoDo building Crawford developed.
In 1974, Crawford joined a team of investors that transformed New Orleans’ 1907 Federal Fiber Mills building into high-end condos. Sixteen years later, she brought the concept to Denver with the Edbrooke Lofts.
Recent Rockies retiree Todd Helton can thank Crawford, in part, for the view from first base; she served on a special committee for the design of the field.
Many LoDo loft residents have a place to put out their welcome mats because of Crawford. Since 1990, she has helped build, fund, or plan the following buildings: Edbrooke Lofts, Acme Lofts, Flour Mill Lofts, and Ajax Lofts.
When Larimer Square didn’t have businesses to fill its vacant spaces, Crawford started her own, such as the Market. Until she sold it in the early ’80s, Crawford was in the odd position of being both tenant and landlord of this popular Larimer Square lunch spot.
Metro State, Community college of Denver, and CU Denver
When the state built the Auraria campus in 1977, it failed to include a budget for landscaping—an oversight Crawford remedied by securing a grant for improving the grounds through the National Endowment for the Arts’ City Edges program.
The South Platte
Crawford has supported Denver’s Greenway Foundation’s efforts to turn the city’s signature river from a hazmat zone to something that’s, well, a little less gross for 39 years.
Crawford established this theater in the space where the current Comedy Works lives at the corner of 15th and Larimer streets.