The Amusing History of Lakewood, CO
West of Denver, Lakewood, CO was first settled in the 19th century but was not incorporated into Jefferson County until the 20th century due to its rapid growth.
Lakewood, CO 19th Century – The District
The amusing town was originally platted by Charles Welch and former president of the Colorado Central Railroad, W.A.H. Loveland on July 1, 1889. Loveland selected an area west of Denver to settle down in a new community following his retirement along the Colfax Avenue. Wealthy residents of Denver followed suit for years to come as they built their summer estates in the Lakewood district.
The first electric tramway was established in 1893 which connected Lakewood with Golden and Denver. The route was nicknamed “the Loop” as it was incorporated into the Denver Tramway Corporation.
The district of Lakewood drew significant attention with the establishment of the Remington Arms Company in 1941. Remington is America’s oldest and largest producer of shotgun and rifles. The ammunition factory was the largest government contract awarded in Colorado during that time.
Lakewood 20th Century – The City
In its history, the District of Lakewood relied on multiple water districts, fire districts and the government in neighboring cities within Jefferson County. The district was policed by the Jefferson County Sherriff’s office in addition to volunteer staffed fire districts up until 1969, where Jefferson City was incorporated. It was not long until an election was held as residents voted to change the name from Jefferson City to Lakewood.
In addition to their dislike of the name, the residents of the city did not want to be confused with existing communities in CO and MO.
It is unclear if the city had a traditional downtown area as the term traditional will vary from an individual’s perspective. Today, West Colfax Avenue is the heart of the City of Lakewood, CO as U.S. Route 40 runs through connecting Denver with the Rocky Mountains.
This metropolitan avenue was commercialized in the 1950s. Commuters and residents alike will find a Jewish Consumptive Relief Society, a Methodist Church with drug and grocery stores.
As the population grew, the city added restaurants, gas stations, and taverns, motels, banks as well as a roller rink, movie theater, bowling alley and multiple used car lots.
The Jewish Consumptive Relief Society contributed to the city’s development as shopping centers developed as these centers expanded. A reflection of this expansion can be found 20 blocks south of West Colfax Avenue, The Villa Italia Mall. Unfortunately, in less than 40 years the Mall steadily declined. The Lakewood City Council developed a plan to demolish the mall and replace it with Belmar.
An All-American City
Lakewood, Colorado was named an All-American City for the first time in 2011. The All-American City Award is awarded to ten communities within the United States annually by the National Civic League.
The award recognizes citizens within a community who work together to identify community-wide challenges and overcome them. Recipients of the aware can be neighborhoods, towns, villages, cities even counties or regions.
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