"White City" Lakeside Amusement Park in Photos
Last Saturday I took the girls to Lakeside Amusement Park in Denver! It never gets old... even though it is, well, OLD! It opened May 30, 1908 and here we are entering those plastered white walls, hence the name "White City," all 110 years later. I love documenting Denver's places and landscapes, the history, as it is today, doing my part to preserve it in some way, and Lakeside is just one of those places you gotta see and experience. As a native, it has changed so much in just my lifetime in so many ways. It's incredible to try to even imagine what it might look like when my girls are my age! And dare I even say it, hoping that these coasters are still standing for their kiddos.
I discovered this total gem of an article on Lakeside Amusement Park's history, with a few nuggets and a visual treat in several old images. Did you know there used to be a swimming beach?! How about the casino, the theater, the dance hall, the swimming pool?! I knew about the dancing because I had lived with my Great Aunt for a few years and she had shared how they used to go to Lakeside for dates and dancing with bands! She came to Denver with my grandmother as young girls, she bought her first home near City Park, and then purchased a home in North Denver in her married years. She shared so much with me about the Denver SHE knew and when we would go driving to dinner in any one direction, she would point out what was once there and she'd click her teeth and shake her head from side to side in awe of the urban sprawl. I can still see and hear her. I'd glance over at her in the passenger seat of her cushie, prisitne, '89 silver Ford Crown Victoria, her perfect coiff monochrome with the velvety head rest, this car, her car, the car I learned to drive on holds so many memories for me. I am now sitting in that passenger seat, gesturing, pointing, trying to stop the car with my eyes in amazement and shock at a new building that went up on what seemd to be a patch of grass across the street from Tallulah Jones, a Denver boutique I worked at. When husband drives us west and up the hills and I look out into Golden and see large cylinder pipes ready for burial so that a new community can sprout, I am shaking my head and clicking my teeth and finding myself shouting, "Are thy just going to build on every piece of empty land?!" It is just so much to take in. The growth. The changes. The people coming. It's a lot.
I loved scrolling through these old photos of Lakeside, and the most shocking to me, even more than the ladies on roller coasters in bustles and hats, was the wide angle view of the terrain AROUND Lakeside, which was once a town, Lakeside, with a population of 8. It is pretty incredible. The stamp human press seems not to be constrained and bleeds farther and more expansively each day.
I grew up visiting Lakeside on a special summer excursion here and there, not every summer, and my mom grew up coming here, and my Great Aunt grew up coming to Lakeside. Now the girls are in their fourth year! It seems a little tradition has been created. With each generation it seems the park has lost a little more of that white plaster, and a few more weeds have forced their way through the seams in staircases to nowhere. Each time I visit now, its to clap and cheer for the next generation of girls getting their thrills in, and I get to look on, beaming, as their wispy hair floats up and back down to their tiny tan shoulders each time their cart takes a turn or rolls down a lip of a track. I get to witness their guttural laughter from butterflies flitting as a ride sways them back and forth. I am blessed. I love how encouraging and concerned Remy is about me not riding any rides, offering to wait for me if I wanted to ride.
Lakeside holds history in the ticket booths that once marked shelter to a person there to greet you, tip their hat, guide you and present you a ticket in exchange for a few coins. There's time trapped there in the signage, in the fountains, in the gears and in the trees. I think my favorite time to go is sun down! To watch the sun set over the sparkle of Lake Rhoda, through the trees if you happen to be in the park near the merry-go-round, or catching the rays making shapes between a skeleton of an empty solitaire roller coaster on the far south side of the park, this is special to me. We made it until 7:30 this time around, a few of the lights started to glimmer, Remy smiling and pointing, "Mama the lights are on!"
Another favorite from this trip was how Remy encouraged her little sister to ride the tiny coaster with her. They rode it once, and Arlo closed her eyes the entire time, clutching the side rail, and Remy was all teeth, baby hands in the air and sparkly eyes. Remy wanted to ride it over and over! Arlo sat one or two more coaster rides out, but after our pretzel break, her sister had convinced her to give it another go. Remy even got her to get on the Captain Hook's boat ride! Seeing them happy together makes me incredibly happy.
It looks like we have taken the girls the last three years! See the first trip with them when Remy was barely tall enough to ride and when Arlo was still bald and in a stroller here! Then the next year when Arlo was walking and big enough to join Remy on a few rides and her hair was a wee bit longer (and those hands folded behind her back- I have the same pose this year!), and last year. It is so interesting for me from an anthropologist's perspective and see the photos that I took of things that spoke to me each time, and then shared here, and going back through the photos from this most recent visit and seeing I have nearly identical copies of the same angles of certain signs, an awning in disrepair, a fountain with a lions head....Again, I am happy to share with you a piece of Denver history in Lakeside Amusement Park.
Were a couple rides out of operation for repair? Of course. Did we have to trek across the street to the gast station to get cash to pay for our cotton candy and Icees? You betcha. Did the girls have a blast? An understatement. Will we be back next year? Can count on it!
Here's 106 photos, almost one for each year the park has been around. Lakeside, we love you.
Wearing: Remy is wearing a yellow tank dress from Norsdtrom's STEM line, purchased at the Anniversary sale, and she HAD to ear her Hello Kitty jellies! Have you seen this navy paper airplane dress at Target?! Arlo is wearing thrifted, vintage white denim shorts, but spotted these adorable lace up ones from Levi's for $10! She is wearing a floral C de C cotton tank, purchased when Remy was a baby at a boutique sale, but this floral tank from Peek is SO CUTE and only $13 at Nordstrom Rack.