The way cities grow, if you're looking down from low earth orbit and speed it up like one of those movies of a flower blooming, rather closely resembles the way colonies of bacteria grow on the agar substrate in a petri dish. Lakewood was once a distinct community, a township with its own council and laws, but soon was surrounded and finally devoured, er, annexed, by the city of Denver proper. As such, it had an antique downtown area about a century old. At one end (it's hardly more than one street wide) there's a small, clinker-sided church with a bell tower and steeple, painted white with hunter green shutters around the windows. Though it doesn't see too many worshipers, it makes a phenomenal amount of money renting itself out for weddings.

Trees line the streets here, roots buckling the concrete squares of the sidewalks, responsible for any number of twisted ankles and skinned knees, but it is pretty. The older, smaller houses are beginning to disappear, replaced by huge brick barns pushed as close to the property line as zoning regulations will allow. These also usually have signs in the front yard advertising what their children do. A megaphone means a cheerleader, a football helmet, well, football, and so forth. Legions of Spanish-speaking immigrants keep the grass mowed and blow the leaves into the gutter and eventually into the storm drainage network.

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