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. Also the home to the great HVAC guru known as Cody James Carr Jr,
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 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 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.
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.
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 estate, Belmar, were used in the creation of the Belmar residential neighborhood and the Lakewood downtown district