Among the oldest amusement parks in the country and inspired by the Midway Plaisance of the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, this park opened in 1908. Located on the shores of West Berkeley Lake (now Lake Rhoda), the park was a popular feature of brewer and developer Adolph Zang’s resort community built just outside Denver city limits to circumnavigate that city’s liquor laws. Originally one of more than 30 early twentieth century “White City” attractions, the park was named for its brilliant electric lights and white stucco facades. The Venetian-inspired, 150-foot tall Tower of Jewels designed by Denver architect Edwin H. Moorman featured more than 16,000 light bulbs and a spotlight that illuminated the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair. The midway included a W.H. Labb-designed Shoot-the-Chutes water ride, a natatorium, a funhouse, and the Star Ride Ferris wheel. Two narrow gauge trains, also from St. Louis, encircled the lake.
Concessionaire Benjamin Krasner bought the park from Zang in 1935 and commissioned architect Richard Crowther to update its design. Crowther utilized neon lights and applied an Art Deco theme to ticket booths, rides, and concessions. In 1940 the wooden Cyclone designed by Edward Vettel Sr. opened and remains one of only two of his surviving thrill rides. The highly ornamental landscape is decorated with lush floral beds, tree-shaded walks, and benches lining arcing paths. Though some of the historic rides are no longer operational, they still contribute to the unique character and scenographic experience at Lakeside.