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Photographs of early Lakewood are online

Photographs of early Lakewood are online

The making of the Lakewood community is dramatically illustrated in a new gallery of historical photographs now accessible through the city’s website at The collection of nearly 200 images—some never before published—includes captions that put each of the archival images in context.

The methods that allowed 17,500 homes to be constructed in just 33 months are shown. So are the long lines of hopeful buyers as they waited in 1951 to make a down payment on one of Lakewood’s “homes of tomorrow.” And after they moved in, their efforts to start community traditions, resist annexation by Long Beach, and incorporate Lakewood as a city in 1954 also are shown.

“Lakewood’s story in photographs hasn’t ever been gathered together in this way,” noted Don Waldie, the city’s Historian Emeritus. “The recent updating of the city website was the perfect opportunity to give Lakewood’s archival photographs new prominence.”

The mostly black-and-white photographs cover the early period of Lakewood’s development in 1950 through incorporation and into the first decades of civic life. There are nostalgic images of “Giganta the robot” from Mae Boyar Park, shoppers on opening day at the May Company in 1952, the building of the Lakewood Youth Center, and Pan American festival events.

Circa 1950 homebuilding is pictured. Chapter 2 of Lakewood’s online history notes, “a new house was completed every 7 1/2 minutes, 40 to 60 houses per day, with a record of 110 completed in a single day.”

For history buffs, the photographs in the city’s online collection can be downloaded from the website or emailed to friends. Prints suitable for framing can be ordered from, the hosting service for the city’s galleries of photographs.

Other online galleries highlight Lakewood’s original residents, the Pan American festival, Lakewood’s veterans, and nostalgic “then and now” photographs that reveal the changing face of Lakewood.