History of Lakewood, Colorado

August 18, 2022

In 1969, more than 50 years ago, the incorporation of the city of Lakewood happened. This remarkable endeavor of intertwining the neighborhood and community with a strong awareness of identity was founded over the decades by locals that worked together to lay pipelines, build schools, and install developments that help improve the overall lifestyle and the community of the city.

The name of the city, Lakewood, originated from a subdivision that was established by the holder of the Colorado Central Railroad, William Loveland, near Harlan Street and West Colfax Avenue in 1889. The area's residents operated dairies and raised, ranched turkeys in the early years. Today's identified land, the Federal Center, was acquired by the federal government in the 1940s and after the following decades, agriculture prospers and establishes a sense of pride in each neighborhood.

In the 1940s to 1950s, several attempts to incorporate the area into a city were raised however, all the efforts failed. Factors began to agitate over 90,000 residents in 1969. This includes the shortage in resources of law enforcement and annexation fear to Denver. New city boundaries were sketched on the pingpong table in the home basement of the Citizens for Incorporation chairman, James Jeff "Jim" Richey. In June 1969, the residents in the neighborhoods of Green Mountain, Applewood, Alameda, Lakewood, and Bear Creek voted to create a city by greater than two-to-one margin, one of its time's largest incorporations. The City Council had to look for supplies and offices with its limited budget and Richey became the city's mayor. The name of the city was soon altered to Lakewood from Jefferson City after the favored advisory vote of the residents to the City Council which makes the name change by resolution.

The growth of Lakewood, from the beginning, was progressive, visionary, and positive. The first to require agents with a college degree was the Police Department. What started as an early subdivision of homes, turkey farms, and ranchland has turned into one of Colorado's largest cities with more than 150,000 residents. Lakewood is the fifth Colorado state's largest city and the third Denver metro area's largest city. One-fourth of the land of Lakewood is dedicated to open space and parks, also, the city has numerous prime employment centers such as Union Boulevard, Federal Center, St. Anthony Medical Campus, and Academy Park. Locals of Lakewood are also served by various special districts for schools, water, fire, and sewer. In the early days, remnants of the area were banded together by its residents to create amenities and services for themselves even before the city was incorporated and existed.

To aid in preserving the rich history of Lakewood, the Lakewood Heritage Center was constructed to home more than 8,000 historical photographs and more than 30,000 historical objects. These photographs and artifacts illustrate the story of Jefferson County, Lakewood, and state, world, and national events related to the locals of Lakewood. These artifacts are limited to but cover the history of 20th-century technology and business, personal and textile artifacts, material culture, domestic life, and military life. Other establishments that are significant to the past of Lakewood include the Denver Federal Center and West Colfax.

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