Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2012

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

History

First Advisor

Thomas Zeiler

Second Advisor

Ralph Mann

Third Advisor

Robert Ferry

Fourth Advisor

Robert Schulzinger

Fifth Advisor

Paul Beale

Abstract

This dissertation explores the history of Lakeside Amusement Park, built in 1908 in Denver, Colorado, through the context of Denver’s social, economic, and political development over the course of a century. Originally constructed by Denver brewer Adolph Zang as an elite amusement park with fairly tame attractions, Denver quickly adopted the park as part of its City Beautiful program. The City Beautiful movement, which provided a blueprint for beautifying ugly and hastily built cities, was developed from the architectural design of the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago. Lakeside’s story is an important addition to amusement park history because it proves that an amusement park, despite what some historians have argued, could in fact play a role in City Beautiful programs. The story of Lakeside is also an important addition to the story of Denver’s City Beautiful period because of the large role it played during that time. However, Denver’s changing political climate and economic and social development changed the environment in which the park operated, forcing it to become less elite and more working class. Studying how the park adapted to such change offers a unique perspective from which to view Denver’s development over the span of a century. Lakeside’s history also offers a view on larger changes in society and the amusement park industry itself. Lakeside Amusement Park is an excellent mirror of a growing Western town’s society between 1908 and 2008, and as such, it offers a unique perspective from which to view Denver’s development during that time. The story of Lakeside comes from the pages of Denver’s newspapers, Denver’s official City Beautiful publication entitled Municipal Facts, Billboard magazine, and interviews with people who were connected to the park from its earliest days until modern times.

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