Lakewood, Colorado: A City Full of Possibilities
Lakewood, Colorado, is a city that embodies the spirit of the American West. At the foot of the Rocky Mountains, it is the most populous municipality in Jefferson County and the fifth most populous city in Colorado. As of the 2020 U.S. Census, the city had a population of 155,984, making it the 167th most populous city in the United States. This vibrant city is a principal part of the Denver–Aurora–Lakewood, CO Metropolitan Statistical Area and a major city of the Front Range Urban Corridor.
History of Lakewood
The urban and suburban development of Lakewood began in 1889, initiated by Charles Welch and W.A.H. Loveland. They 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.
For about 80 years, the area known as Lakewood had no municipal government, relying instead on several water districts, fire districts, and the government of Jefferson County. Policing was provided by the Jefferson County Sheriff, and several volunteer-staffed fire districts served the community. Some neighborhoods lacked street lights or sidewalks.
In 1969, the City of Lakewood was incorporated as Jefferson City. However, an election soon after led to the city’s name being changed to Lakewood, due to an overwhelming dislike of “Jefferson City” and the belief that it would be confused with existing communities in Colorado and Missouri. At the time of incorporation, the city population was already over 90,000.
Unlike many cities, 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 establishments. In 2011, Lakewood was named an All-America City for the first time.
Geography of Lakewood
Lakewood is located at an elevation of 5,518 feet and 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 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.
Several small lakes and reservoirs are 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## Economy of Lakewood
Lakewood’s economy is as unique as the city itself. The city’s approach to economic development focuses on facilitating appropriate real estate development and infrastructure, while maintaining regional competitiveness, promoting environmental and economic sustainability, encouraging diverse job growth, assisting small businesses, and maintaining a strong local employment base.
The city is home to several business districts and organizations that contribute to its economic vitality. These include the 40 West Arts District, Alameda Corridor Business Improvement District, Alameda Connects, Applewood Business Association, and the Lakewood-West Colfax Business Improvement District, among others. Each of these organizations plays a crucial role in promoting the corridor, participating in networking opportunities, and providing information to the community.
The healthcare sector plays a significant role in Lakewood’s economy, with numerous hospitals and health-focused companies established within the area. This sector provides ample job opportunities and drives economic growth. Additionally, the city’s economic development is supported by several state and local entities, including the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT), the Colorado Small Business Development Centers (CSBDC), and the Jefferson County Economic Development Corporation (Jeffco EDC).
Lakewood’s real estate market is also a significant contributor to its economy. The city’s median property value grew by 9.16% in 2020, reaching $398,200. This growth reflects the city’s desirability as a place to live and invest in.
Education is another vital sector in Lakewood’s economy. Institutions like Red Rocks Community College offer over 60 degrees and 182 certificates, providing education rooted in real-world applicability. The college delivers courses in various formats, including traditional classroom, online, self-paced, and weekend classes, catering to a diverse range of students.
Lakewood, Colorado, is a city that offers a rich history, a vibrant economy, and a high quality of life. Its unique location at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains provides residents with a wealth of recreational opportunities, while its robust economy offers a diverse range of job opportunities. Whether you’re considering moving to Lakewood or investing in the city, it’s clear that this city has a lot to offer.