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Lakeside Holiday

The hypnotic lights of Lakeside await your gaze.

The Lakeside Speedway hasn't seen a race for 25 years.

The merry-go-round animals have seen 100 years of keyed initials.

Faces abound on the Merry-Go-Round.

The Staride hasn't run for years, but its ruins remain.

Don't drink the water.

The Cyclone is worth the wait.

Do not stand up on the Cyclone.

The Ferris Wheel from below.

A view from the top.

The Autoskooter beckons.

The Round-Up in action.

The glorious neon of Lakeside.

A view from the Flying Dutchman.

The base of the Tower of Jewels.

Win fabulous prizes at Fun Ball.

The Rock-O-Plane rocks at night.

The Wild Chipmunk wants you.

A view from Sheridan Boulevard.

The state's most historic amusement park, Lakeside is a Denver institution. Independence Day was a great day for a spin on the Cyclone and a few snapshots. But what does the future hold for all of the vacant land around the park?
Lakeside Amusement Park is plenty rough around the edges, but that of course is part of its charm. 

A living history exhibit dripping with grease and cheap thrills, and oh so photogenic, the frowzy grand dame of Colorado fun parks has been in business at 46th Avenue and Sheridan Boulevard since 1908. It is the only remaining amusement park that bore the name White City in the world -- there once were 30 dotting the globe from London to Chicago to Sydney.

The steam-powered train that circumnavigates Lake Rhoda dates back to 1904; it first chugged along at the St. Louis World's Fair. Lakeside's Art Deco and Modern facelift came in the 1930s, according to its terrific Wikipedia page, but not much has changed in the time since, except the Funhouse shutting down in 1985.

Oddly enough, Lakeside is actually its own low-tax municipality (pop. 8), formed in 1907 to escape Colorado liquor law, but more recently used to rubber-stamp a Walmart. DenverUrbanism has covered this story well. The post's author, attorney Brent Butzin, rightly sees the Walmart as a missed opportunity. (I like the plan offered by this link in the comments.)

It would be nice to see a mixed-use approach that preserves the park as a community amenity for the long term. There's easy access to downtown and I-70 on the fringe of the Highlands, and plenty of vacant land begging for more thoughtful development -- like the defunct Lakeside Speedway, which was the site of races from the 1950s to the '80s, but hasn't seen much but weeds in the quarter-century since. (See below.)

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Photos by Eric Peterson.

Read more articles by Eric Peterson.

Eric is a Denver-based tech writer and guidebook wiz. Contact him here.
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