Lakewood was officially incorporated on February 28, 1996. Historical names include Tacoma/Lakewood Center and Lakes District (this name was used by the U.S. Census in the 1970 and 1980 Census). Lakewood is the second-largest city in Pierce County and is home to the Clover Park School District, the Lakes Water District, Fort Steilacoom Park and Western State Hospital, a regional state psychiatric hospital.
In 2004, the City of Lakewood formed the community's first Police Department.
Lakewood is located at 47°10′N 122°32′W (47.164, -122.526).
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 18.95 square miles (49.08 km2), of which, 17.17 square miles (44.47 km2) is land and 1.78 square miles (4.61 km2) is water.
There are several lakes within the city limits; the largest in area are American Lake, Lake Steilacoom, Gravelly Lake, Lake Louise, and Waughop Lake. A number of small creeks flow through Lakewood, some of which drain into nearby Puget Sound. The largest of these, Chambers Creek, flows from Lake Steilacoom to Chambers Bay between nearby University Place and Steilacoom.
The western terminus of State Route 512 is in Lakewood, at its intersection with Interstate 5.