Jefferson County Neighborhoods:
East of Denver’s Sloans Lake• Zip code 80214• 303-238-7803
Edgewater is a small neighborly town just under one square mile big, at the east edge of Jefferson County. A volunteer fire department protects the town. The police department knows how to find just about any of the 4,450 residents. The Historic Preservation Board is very active! As historian Irma Wyhs says, “This little city has survived the ravages of a saloon-gambling era, two world wars, prohibition, the Great Depression, and many personal trials to emerge triumphant.”
In 1861, Thomas Sloan activated an underground spring while digging a well to irrigate his farmland. The well flooded 200 acres overnight. People rode horseback from Denver to see the phenomenon of Sloans’s Lake. Mr. Sloan switched from farming to prosper during the winter from cutting ice, which he packed in sawdust stored in sheds. The community west of the lake became known as Edgewater.
On the north side of the lake, an amusement park named Manhattan Beach was built in 1891 to include a zoo, dance pavilion, roller coaster, skating rink, concessions, and a theatre with a 90 foot observatory tower. There were hot air balloon ascensions, a lady shot from a cannon, magic acts, bands, and circus acts.
Edgewater was incorporated in 1901 during the raging saloon-gambling era. People moved there from Denver to escape crowded conditions and heavy taxes. It was also out of reach for Denver constables itching to arrest Edgewater’s “soiled doves” residing in houses of “ill repute” along Emerald Street (now 25th Avenue). In spite of the influence of a Methodist mission, early TV westerns might aptly describe the town during this wild period. Fire, accidents, and competition with Eliches and Lakeside Amusement Parks caused end of amusement park, prostitution and saloon heaven.
According to historian Wyhs, “Suddenly, many people began growing grapes during prohibition of the roaring twenties… Edgewater’s 1,473 citizens saw each other through the 1930s depression.” Many grew up to accomplish greatness. Lifelong Edgewater resident Norma Daly completed a Ph.D. at CSU and taught Home Economics. She served City Council, JeffCo Open Space Advisory Committee, American Cancer Society and many others. During the mid 1980s, her “Brown Cloud” air pollution label continues to describe metro pollution today.
In 1986, the volunteer “tree board” received the 1986 Tree City USA award, primarily for huge elms sold to locals by an enterprising farmer. Mayor John Fox was the recipient of the Smart Growth award for his work with metro mayors. The first POW MIA flag in Colorado was flown in Edgewater in 1998. A Renewal Authority helped create the Edgewater Market Place and attracted King Soopers.
One excellent outcome of celebrating the town’s centennial in 2001 is a pictorial history book developed by Celora Jean Jones, Connie Jo Fox, and Erma Whys. A poem by Lynn Wise describes how most folks feel about their town:
The hustle and bustle of big city life
will never get me down.
I’m proud to say that
Edgewater’s my home town.
Traditions: A Carnival theme for the annual “Edgewater Days” took place on August 11, 12, and 13. The town parade was held Saturday at 10 am along 25th Street from Pierce to Harlan. A Soap Box Derby was held after the pancake breakfast on Sunday. Adult baseball leagues are as popular now as they were in 1915!
Real Estate values: Homes and condos range from $72,000 to $340,000. Young professionals are restoring older homes. Public JeffCo Schools: Edgewater and Lumberg Elementary schools and Jefferson High School. Amenities: Walking distance from most shopping and recreation, including a wonderful walk around Sloan’s Lake. Brief commute to most job opportunities in the metro area.
Organized: Voters adopted Colorado “Home Rule” status in 1962. There are 43 city employees supervised by seven members of city council and the mayor. Residents volunteer serving their “young at heart” elderly citizens during paint-a-thons complete with pot luck suppers.
Plus: Small town friendly atmosphere where most neighbors know one another. Population is about 36% Latino, 60% Euro-white and 4% Black, Indian, and Asian. Minus: Most homes require updating.