History

graphicLakewood Celbrates Fifty Years of Building a Community

In 1950, when the first 17,500 houses in Lakewood were going up on former beet fields and truck farms, what had once been available only to well-off homebuyers was suddenly available for average working people with families to raise.

Thousands more homes were built in Los Angeles County in the decades that followed, embodying a democratization of the American Dream of homeownership, neighborhood involvement, and family values.

Being the first suburban development in Southern California to make the benefits of suburban life available to just about everyone is distinction enough, but Lakewood has more than history on its side. The community created fifty years ago began with a remarkable foundation that developers today regard with new respect.

The city's physical plan — the way its grid of streets is arranged — and the intimate relationships between neighborhoods, schools, parks, and convenience shopping have been rediscovered by homebuilders seeking to recreate the sense of belonging that had drained out of many developments in the 1980s and 1990s. Even the recent expansion of Lakewood Center — the second oldest regional shopping center in the nation — is showing how good design is timeless even in the fast changing retail sector.

Lakewood residents have known all along that there is an indefinable something about Lakewood that is part of the city's enviable quality of life. It's a feeling that Lakewood residents seem to share to a remarkable degree. When Lakewood residents were asked recently in a citywide poll about their feelings for the city, 92 percent said they were happy with the way things in their city were going, 85 percent thought the quality of the city services they receive is high, and 73 percent said that their neighborhood quality of life had gotten better in the past year.

It's hard to argue, say city officials, with feelings like those. A good sign, they add, that the past in Lakewood is just the prologue to its bright future.

Incorporation and the Lakewood Plan will be celebrated for more than a year with city-sponsored activities beginning in January 2003 and continuing to May 2004.

 

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