The hypnotic lights of Lakeside await your gaze. Eric Peterson
The Lakeside Speedway hasn't seen a race for 25 years. Eric Peterson
The merry-go-round animals have seen 100 years of keyed initials. Eric Peterson
Faces abound on the Merry-Go-Round. Eric Peterson
The Staride hasn't run for years, but its ruins remain. Eric Peterson
Don't drink the water. Eric Peterson
The Cyclone is worth the wait. Eric Peterson
Do not stand up on the Cyclone. Eric Peterson
The Ferris Wheel from below. Eric Peterson
A view from the top. Eric Peterson
The Autoskooter beckons. Eric Peterson
The Round-Up in action. Eric Peterson
The glorious neon of Lakeside. Eric Peterson
A view from the Flying Dutchman. Eric Peterson
The base of the Tower of Jewels. Eric Peterson
Win fabulous prizes at Fun Ball. Eric Peterson
The Rock-O-Plane rocks at night. Eric Peterson
The Wild Chipmunk wants you. Eric Peterson
A view from Sheridan Boulevard. Eric Peterson
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.
Eric is a Denver-based tech writer and guidebook wiz. Contact him here