The urban/suburban development of the community known as Lakewood was begun in 1889 by Charles Welch and W.A.H. Loveland, who platted a 13-block area along Colfax Avenue west of Denver in eastern Jefferson County. Loveland, the former president of the Colorado Central Railroad, retired to the new community of Lakewood after many years of living in Golden.
Until 1969, the area known as Lakewood had no municipal government, relying instead on several water districts, several fire districts, and the government of Jefferson County. Lakewood was a community with policing provided by the Jefferson County Sheriff, several volunteer staffed fire districts, and some neighborhoods without street lights and sidewalks. However, the community had already existed for about 80 years.
The City of Lakewood was incorporated in 1969 as Jefferson City. Soon after, an election was held and the city's name was changed to Lakewood. This was due to an overwhelming dislike of "Jefferson City" and the perceived notion it would be confused with existing communities in Colorado and Missouri. At the time of incorporation the city population was already over 90,000.
Lakewood never had a traditional downtown area. West Colfax Avenue served the metropolitan area as U.S. Route 40 and the main route joining Denver with the Rocky Mountains. As such, Colfax from Harlan west to Kipling and beyond had mostly commercial establishment. In addition to the Jewish Consumptive Relief Society (JCRS) for TB patients, the small frame Methodist Church, and telephone exchange, there emerged by the 1950s grocery and drug stores, gas stations, restaurants & taverns, several motels, branch banks, a movie theater, roller rink, bowling alley, and used car lots. Several multi-business "shopping centers" developed followed by much larger centers at JCRS and Westland. The Villa Italia Mall on West Alameda Avenue, twenty blocks south of Colfax, reflected the southward expansion of Lakewood settlement and housed a larger concentration of retail space. As the mall went into decline, the Lakewood City Council developed a plan to demolish the Villa Italia Mall and replace it with a new development called Belmar.
In 2011, Lakewood was named an All-America City for the first time.
Lakewood is located at 39°42′17″N 105°04′53″W at an elevation of 5,518 feet (1,682 m). Located at the junction of U.S. Route 6 and Colorado State Highway 121 in central Colorado, the city lies immediately west of Denver and 62 miles (100 km) north-northwest of Colorado Springs.
Lakewood lies in the Colorado Piedmont on the western edge of the Great Plains just east of the Front Range of the Southern Rocky Mountains. Green Mountain, a mesa 6,854 feet (2,089 m) tall, is located in the far west-central part of the city.
The city is located in the watershed of the South Platte River, and several small tributaries of the river flow generally east through it. From north to south, these include Lakewood Gulch, Weir Gulch, Sanderson Gulch, and Bear Creek. Two tributaries of Lakewood Gulch, Dry Gulch and McIntyre Gulch, flow east through the northern part of the city. Turkey Creek, a tributary of Bear Creek, flows northeast through the far southwestern part of the city. In addition, Lena Gulch, a tributary of Clear Creek to the north, flows east then north through the extreme northwestern part of the city.
There are several small lakes and reservoirs in Lakewood. The Soda Lakes lie in the extreme southwestern part of the city. East of them lies Bear Creek Lake, a reservoir fed by Bear Creek and Turkey Creek. Clustered near each other in central Lakewood are Main Reservoir, East Reservoir, Smith Reservoir, Kendrick Lake, and Cottonwood Lake. Northeast of them lies Kountze Lake. In the northwestern part of the city, Lena Gulch both feeds and drains Maple Grove Reservoir. In the extreme southern part of the city lies Bowles Reservoir No. 1 and, just outside the city limits to the reservoir's northeast, Marston Lake.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 44.06 square miles (114.1 km2) of which 42.88 square miles (111.1 km2) is land and 1.18 square miles (3.1 km2) (2.7%) is water.
As a suburb of Denver, Lakewood is part of both the greater Denver metropolitan area and the Front Range Urban Corridor. It borders other communities on all sides including: Wheat Ridge to the north, Edgewater to the northeast, Denver to the east and southeast, Dakota Ridge to the south, Morrison to the southwest, and Golden, West Pleasant View, East Pleasant View, and Applewood to the northwest.
Lakewood experiences a semi-arid climate (Köppen BSk) featuring mild and snowy winters and warm to hot summers, with great temperature differences (about 30 degrees Fahrenheit) between day and night. Precipitation is concentrated in the spring and summer months.
As of the 2010 census, there were 142,980 people, 61,986 households, and 35,882 families residing in the city. The population density was 3,334.4 people per square mile (1,286.9/km²). There were 65,758 housing units at an average density of 1,533.5 per square mile (591.9/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 82.9% White, 3.1% Asian, 1.6% Black, 1.4% American Indian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 7.7% from other races, and 3.3% from two or more races. Hispanics and Latinos of any race were 22.0% of the population.
There were 61,986 households out of which 26.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 41.1% were married couples living together, 5.0% had a male householder with no wife present, 11.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 42.1% were non-families. 33.5% of all households were made up of individuals, and 10.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.27, and the average family size was 2.92.
The distribution of the population by age was 20.8% under the age of 18, 9.6% from 18 to 24, 27.1% from 25 to 44, 28.0% from 45 to 64, and 14.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39.2 years. The gender makeup of the city was 48.9% male and 51.1% female.
The median income for a household in the city was $52,960, and the median income for a family was $66,947. Males had a median income of $46,907 versus $41,476 for females. The city's per capita income was $30,027. About 9.1% of families and 11.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 20.3% of those under age 18 and 6.1% of those age 65 or over.
Lakewood's economy is diverse while the largest employers are government. Companies based in Lakewood include Einstein Bros. Bagels, 1stBank, and The Integer Group.
As of 2013, 67.3% of the population over the age of 16 was in the labor force. 0.1% was in the armed forces, and 67.3% was in the civilian labor force with 61.1% employed and 6.2% unemployed. The occupational composition of the employed civilian labor force was: 38.6% in management, business, science, and arts; 25.9% in sales and office occupations; 16.9% in service occupations; 9.9% in production, transportation, and material moving; 8.7% in natural resources, construction, and maintenance. The three industries employing the largest percentages of the working civilian labor force were: educational services, health care, and social assistance (18.4%); professional, scientific, and management, and administrative and waste management services (13.8%); retail trade (11.9%).
The cost of living in Lakewood is above average; compared to a U.S. average of 100, the cost of living index for the community is 107.4. As of 2013, the median home value in the city was $238,500, the median selected monthly owner cost was $1,546 for housing units with a mortgage and $442 for those without, and the median gross rent was $940.
According to the City's 2011 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, the top employers in the city are:
Lakewood maintains a council/manager form of government. Citizens elect a City Council consisting of the mayor, who is elected at-large, and 10 City Council members, two from each of the city's five geographical wards. The mayor and the council members assert the policies for the operation of the city government.
As of 2015, the Mayor is Adam Paul. The Council members representing the first ward are Ramey Johnson and Charley Able, Scott Koop and Sharon Vincent represent the second ward, Pete Roybal and Shakti represent the third ward, David Wiechman and Barb Franks represent the fourth ward, and the fifth ward is represented by Karen Harrison and Dana Gutwein.
Almost the entirety of the City of Lakewood falls into Colorado House District 26. Lakewood is represented in the state House by Rep. Brittany Pettersen.
Lakewood also houses Lakewood High School, Green Mountain High School, Bear Creek High School, Brady Exploration High School, Alameda International High School, and International Baccalaureate schools in Jefferson County. Lakewood is also home to Colorado Christian University.
Landmarks and historical points of interest include:The old Villa Italia Mall has been replaced by Belmar, a new town center with a mix of retail, residential, cultural, and public space. The Laboratory of Art and Ideas at Belmar was located in Belmar until May 2009, and that location is now occupied by the Colorado Campus of The Ohio Center for Broadcasting, a private trade school for the radio and television industry. Belmar has a designated Arts District that houses a number of artist studios and several gallery spaces, a nonprofit fine art photography school called Working with Artists.
Casa Bonita, a local Mexican restaurant in Lakewood, where a South Park episode took place.
Lakewood Cultural Center features a theater, gallery space, and art classrooms.
Lakewood Heritage Center is a museum with several historic buildings and is located near Kountze Lake, which formerly housed the Belmar Mansion.
Harley-Davidson dealership on Colfax Avenue is housed in what was originally the Lakewood movie theater dating from the early 1950s.
William Fredrick Hayden Park in the foothills of Green Mountain; the Colorado National Guard used the north side for artillery practice. The Department of Defense Military Munitions Response Program has financed investigations to identify unexploded ordnance there since 2012.
Lakewood has a shopping mall called Colorado Mills which is near I-70 and Colfax Avenue.
Notable individuals who were born in and/or have lived in Lakewood include geospatial software pioneer Sol Katz, guitarist Chris Broderick, professional wrestler Steve "Dr. Death" Williams, and Colorado heiress and philanthropist May Bonfils Stanton, portions of whose 750-acre (300 ha) estate, Belmar, were used in the creation of the Belmar residential neighborhood and the Lakewood downtown district.
Lakewood has four sister cities, as designated by Sister Cities International:, Chester, Cheshire, United Kingdom
, Portsmouth, Hampshire, United Kingdom, also a Friendship City
Sutherland Shire, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia