Situated at the base of the Rocky Mountains just west of Denver, Lakewood has an estimated population of around 140,000, making it one of Colorado's biggest cities. The city has undergone recent renovations, including a picturesque new outdoor shopping and town center area named Belmar.
ECONOMY AND INDUSTRIES
The city's largest employer is the Denver Federal Center, a large complex of U.S. government offices, employing more than 6,000 people. Education is another significant sector, with more than 4,000 employees working for Jefferson County School District.
Other major employers include CaridianBCT, a disease-management service and medical-device manufacturing company; Moneygram International, a money-transfer company; and FirstBank, a bank founded in Lakewood.
NEIGHBORHOODS AND DISTRICTS
Lakewood includes several distinct neighborhoods:
- Addenbrooke/Belmar Park in central Lakewood features diverse architecture, extensive parks, and a friendly community spirit.
- Edgewood is an older neighborhood in northeast Lakewood with horse properties, mobile home parks, wood-frame bungalows, and large apartment complexes. Along with a medical center campus, some used car dealerships, and a correctional facility, the neighborhood is also home to Lakewood's biggest tourist attraction, Casa Bonita Restaurant.
- Eiber, bounded by Oak Street, Sixth Avenue, Wadsworth Boulevard, and Colfax Avenue, is an older community with tree-lined streets and single-family residential homes.
- One of the oldest neighborhoods in Lakewood, dating back to the late 1800s, Jefferson Gardens is a small rural community.
- Lasley is a typical 1960s suburban development containing mainly single-family homes. Located near the city's core, the neighborhood also features Lasley Park, Link Recreation Center, and Lasley Elementary School.
- The Molholm Area, in the northeast section of the city, is an attractive residential and business district.
- Located in the northeastern part of the city, Morse Park is an older, semi-rural, established residential area characterized by large trees, unique housing styles, and big lots. A large portion of the neighborhood was established before the city's incorporation in 1969.
- The North Alameda Area is an established residential neighborhood in central Lakewood, characterized by wide streets, large trees, and single-family homes. The community also contains the 27-acre O'Kane Park.
- The South Alameda Area, which dates back to the late 1880s, is in transition as its new city center is developed. City planners are taking care to ensure it does not lose its distinct neighborhood feel..
Lakewood's many family-friendly recreational venues take advantage of the city's beautiful scenery and open spaces:
- Bear Creek Lake Park, located on Morrison Road, is home to a multitude of wildlife, including birds of prey, coyotes, snakes, prairie dogs, and deer. The park contains Big Soda Lake, Little Soda Lake, and Bear Creek Lake, as well as trails for biking and hiking and more than 2,500 acres of parkland. Visitors can explore the park by foot or by sailboat, riding a mountain bike or on horseback.
- William Frederick Hayden Park, situated on Green Mountain, features over 2,400 acres of green space as well as a challenging system of trails, including a loop near the summit of Green Mountain. The park is a natural habitat for rattlesnakes, hawks, coyotes, mule deer, rabbits, bluebirds and, on occasion, mountain lions.
- Mountair Park, located on West 14th Avenue, features walking paths, picnic tables, a ball field and soccer field, tennis courts, and a basketball court.
- O'Kane Park, located in the North Alameda neighborhood, features two picnic shelters that picnickers can reserve, barbeque grills, and a playground.
ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
Lakewood has a number of museums and arts and cultural venues:
- Located in Belmar Park, Lakewood's Heritage Center presents the town's history through 10 historic structures and 30,000 artifacts. It features an outdoor amphitheater and festival area. The center includes the Radius Gallery, a popular venue for historic and touring exhibitions, and the Spirit of Lakewood Gallery.
- Lakewood Cultural Center, situated in the Lakewood City Commons across from the Belmar shopping area, features a 316-seat theater, rotating exhibits in various gallery spaces, the Artisan Showcase gift shop, art classrooms, and lobby space.
- Washington Heights Art Center, located on West First Avenue and housed in a renovated early-20th-century schoolhouse, offers classes on Middle Eastern belly dancing, ballet, watercolor, pottery, and papermaking.
- Other art venues include North Gallery, Mezzanine Gallery and South Gallery.
Many of Lakewood's events celebrate the arts and the city's cultural heritage:
- At Heritage Days, held in early May, visitors are immersed in the lifestyle of raising farm animals and blacksmithing, and they have the chance to listen to Native American storytelling.
- The annual Cider Days harvest festival features booths that serve cider by the glass or by the gallon. Participants can bring their own apples to the event and use presses to make fresh apple cider. Other activities include live entertainment, a bake-off, face painting, hayrides, tours of historic buildings, a vintage tractor pull, and petting zoo.
- Featuring nationally and internationally recognized artists, Lakewood Cultural Center hosts a number of events, including Takács Quartet with Marc-André Hamelin, The Nutcracker, and The Amazing Adventures of Robinson Crusoe.
The weekly Lakewood Sentinel is the area's local newspaper.