California Fool’s Gold — Exploring Long Beach, The International City

California Fool's Gold


Aerial view of Long Beach (source unknown)

Long Beach is the most populous city in The Harbor region and the second-most populous in Los Angeles County. Its old nicknames, “Iowa by the Sea” and “Iowa under Palm Trees” came from the large numbers of white middle westerners who moved there in the middle of the 20th century. It’s also nicknamed “Wrong Beach” and “Strong Beach.” A popular acronym for the city is “LBC,” which originally stood for Long Beach Crips (as well as, outside of Long Beach, Luton Borough Council, Lakeside Bible Camp, Lymphoid Blastic Crisis, Linux Based Cluster, Loose Bladder Construction and many other things). Now, most people use it to mean “Long Beach City” or “Long Beach, Cali.” To vote for other Los Angeles County communities to be covered on the blog, let me know in the comments.

The lighthouse in the distance

For this episode I was accompanied and hosted by Long Beach residents Diana “D$” Barraza, singer in The Sweater Girls, her fiancé, Brian “Strongford Gambledorf” Meehan, and Inkoo Kang. Invaluable information was also provided by illustrator/designer Justine Szeto.


Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography‘s map of the Harbor, available on merchandise and art prints

Long Beach is the dominant city in the Harbor Area (the only other actual city is Carson). Los Angeles neighborhoods in the region include Harbor Gateway (“The Shoestring“), Harbor City (which includes Harbor Pines and isn’t, in fact, a city), Terminal Island, Wilmington, and San Pedro (with its own neighborhoods of Palisades, Point Fermin, South Shores, Vista del Oro, The Gardens, and Rolling Hills Highlands). Long Beach is roughly 30% white (plurality Germanic), 13% Asian (plurality Filipino, Vietnamese and Cambodian — the second-largest Cambodian community outside of Asia (after Paris) 13% black, and 40% Latino (mostly Mexican) of any race. It’s home to a big shipping port, oil industry, aerospace (McDonnell, Polar, and Boeing), electronics, automobile, hi-tech and light manufacturing…


Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography‘s map of Long Beach, available on art prints and merchandise

Long Beach is the 38th-most populous city in the entire US and the sixth in California. The city has a total area of 170.7 square kilometers. It’s therefore necessary for me to remain pretty superficial in this blog entry as I don’t have the time, space or memory to devote to each of its neighborhoods: 4th Street Corridor, Alamitos Beach, Alamitos Heights, Arlington, Artcraft Manor, Bay Harbour, Belmont Heights, Belmont Park, Belmont Shore, Bixby Hill, Bixby Knolls, Bixby Village, Bluff Heights, Bluff Park, Broadway Corridor, California Heights, Cambodia Town, Carroll Park, Carson Park, Central Area, College Park, College Park West, Craftsman Village, Del Lago, Downtown Long Beach, Drake Park, East Village, Eastside, Eastside/Circle Area, El Dorado, El Dorado Park, El Dorado Park Estates, El Dorado South, Hellman, Imperial Estates, Island Village, La Marina Estates, Lakewood Village, Long Beach Marina, Los Altos, Los Cerritos – Virginia Country Club, Marina Pacifica, Memorial Height, Naples, North Long Beach, Old Lakewood City, Park Estates, Penninsula, Plaza, Poly High, Rancho, Ranchos, Rose Park, Saint Mary’s, Shoreline Village, South of Conant, Spinnaker Bay, Spinnaker Cove, Stearns Park, Stratford Square, Sunrise, Terminal Island, Traffic Circle, University Park Estates, West Long Beach, Whalers Cove, Willmore City, Wrigley Heights, Wrigley North and South and Zaferia.

It is surrounded by Compton to the northwest; Paramount, Bellflower, and Lakewood to the north; Cypress to the northeast; Los Alamitos, Rossmoor, and Seal Beach to the east; Rancho Dominguez, Carson, Wilmington, and San Pedro to the west; and the San Pedro Bay to the south.


Because of its proximity to Los Angeles-area studios and its variety of locations, today Long Beach is regularly used as a filming location in movies, television shows, and advertisements. In fact, because Long Beach is used so often as a filming location, I’ve decided to break them down into smaller categories.


As the title suggests, the following films had, as far as I know, one scene filmed in Long Beach: Alien Resurrection, most/all of the American Pie films, Angels & Demons, Anger Management, Armored, Bad Santa, Balls of Fury, Batman & Robin, Because I Said So, Bedazzled (2000), Bedtime, Blow, The Changeling, Christmas Vacation, Click, Clueless, Crossing Over, Eagle Eye, Ed Wood, 8MM, A Few Good Men, Get Smart, The Girls Next Door, The Guardian, Guess Who, The Informant!, Iron Man, The Island, Jarhead, Joy Ride, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, License to Wed, Life as a House, Little Fockers, Little Nicky, The Longest Yard (2005), Matilda, Mega Piranha, Transformers, Pirates of the Caribbean, Priest, School for Scoundrels, Seed, Step Brothers, Swordfish, Terminator 2, Vanilla Sky, What Lies Beneath, What Women Want and Zodiac.


Multiple scenes from the movies Anchorman – Legend of Ron Burgundy, Big Momma’s House 2, Freedom Writers, Gone in 60 Seconds, Last Action Hero, Speed, Tenacious D – The Pick of Destiny, and Transformers – Revenge of the Fallen were filmed in Long Beach.


Shoreline Drive

Long Beach, Wilmington, and San Pedro are situated on San Pedro Bay, an inlet on the Pacific coast. It is the site of the Port of Los Angeles and the Port of Long Beach, which together form the fifth-busiest port facility in the world — behind the ports of Shanghai, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Shenzhen. The Port of Long Beach, which opened in 1911, was featured in the film Collateral. One of the several iconic features around Long Beach is the winding and scenic Shoreline Drive. Many car chases and crash scenes have been filmed there and it’s been featured in It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World and numerous episodes of the 1970s television drama CHiPs, The Fast and the Furious (2001), Collateral, Starsky & Hutch, Lethal Weapon 4, Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus, The Crossing Guard, The Gumball Rally and Paper Bullets.


Several Long Beach homes have been featured prominently in films. Donnie Darko‘s house (4225 Country Club Drive) is just down the street from Ferris Bueller’s (4160 Country Club Drive), the latter of which was also seen in Red Dragon and Not Another Teen Movie. The house from American Pie 2 (4153 Cedar Avenue) and the house in Dinner for Schmucks (2010) are also in Long Beach.

The Skinny House

The Skinny House (708 Gladys Avenue) in Rose Park is the nation’s skinniest house. The stuccoed Tudor-style house was built on a lot measuring 3 by 15 meters in 1932 by Ian Newton Rummonds, who received the land as a repayment for a $100 loan one year earlier. I’m pretty sure it’s never been used in any films…


The Cal State Long Beach sports grounds (source unknown)

Long Beach Polytechnic High School was featured in Coach Carter, The Other Sister, and American Pie. Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo High School is used for the soon-to-be-canceled television series, Glee. Jordan High School was also used in Coach Carter as well as Joan of Arcadia and The Soloist. Long Beach Woodrow Wilson High School was featured in Alvin and the Chipmunks – The Squeakquel and was the subject of the film Freedom Writers. Cal State Long Beach was featured in WarGames and Starship Troopers.


Just some of the shows with episodes filmed in part in Long Beach: Airwolf, Arrested Development, Baywatch, Beverly Hills, 90210, The Bionic Woman, BJ and the Bear, Blue Thunder, The Bold and the Beautiful, Buffy, CSI – Miami, Cannon, Charlie’s Angels, Cold Case, Criminal Minds, Dexter, Dynasty, Even Stevens, Falcon Crest, Ferris Bueller, Harry O, JAG, Kolchak, MacGyver, Melrose Place, Moonlight, Murder She Wrote, NCIS, NCIS – Los Angeles, Numb3rs, 24, The OC, The Othersiders, Police Woman, Project UFO, The Rookies, Roswell, SeaQuest 2032, Seconds from Disaster, Sightings,  Six Feet Under, Switch, Toma, True Blood, Unsolved Mysteries, The X-Files and The Young & the Restless.


Bo Derek, Meg Tilly, Sally Kellerman, and Tiffani-Amber Thiessen

Long Beach is the birthplace of actors Anthony Zerbe, Barbara Britton, Bo Derek, Bobby Burgess, Cathy Rigby, Daphne Ashbrook, Eloy Casados, Frances Gifford, Jeff Silverman, Joanne Linville, Kami Cotler, Kathy Garver, Lana Clarkson, Linda Stirling, Logan Ramsey, Lu Leonard, Luana Patten, Maitland Ward, Mari Blanchard, Marjoe Gortner, Meg Tilly, Michael Easton, Nicolas Cage, Peggy Ryan, Sally Kellerman, Tanya Crowe, and Tiffani-Amber Thiessen. Directors from Long Beach include John Rawlins and Walter Hill.



The Chumash lived in what’s now Long Beach some 8,000 years ago. The Tongva arrived roughly 3,500 years ago and lived in at least three villages. Tevaaxa’anga was inland near the Los Angeles River while Ahwaanga and Povuu’nga (“place of emergence”) were on the coast. After the Spaniards invaded and conquered, they established the large Rancho Los Nietos in 1784. The Rancho was subsequently divided into Rancho Los Cerritos and Rancho Los Alamitos. The westernmost portion of Long Beach was part of Rancho San Pedro. Rancho Los Cerritos was purchased by an Anglo, Jonathan Temple, in 1843, where he built the Los Cerritos Ranch House. The cattle rancher was soon the richest man in Los Angeles County, which was formed in 1850.


Around the same time, a group of Mormons attempted to establish a colony on Mormon Island (later linked to the mainland due to land reclamation operations).


In 1866, Temple sold his ranch to the sheep-raising firm of Flint, Bixby & Co, which consisted of brothers Thomas and Benjamin Flint and their cousin Lewellyn Bixby. Lewellyn’s brother Jotham Bixby, the so-called “Father of Long Beach,” moved there to maintain the ranch. In 1880, Bixby sold 4,000 acres to William E. Willmore, who subdivided it in hopes of creating a farm community, Willmore City. He failed and was bought out by a Los Angeles firm, the Long Beach Land and Water Company. They re-named Willmore City “Long Beach” and it was incorporated as a city on 13 December 1897.


One of Lewellyn and Jotham’s cousins, John W. Bixby, leased land at Ranch Los Alamitos and then formed Alamitos Land Company with his cousins and banker I.W. Hellman. They purchased the ranch and began developing the community of Alamitos in the area of modern-day Belmont Heights, Belmont Shore, and Naples.


In 1907, the first rollercoaster opened in Long Beach’s now-defunct amusement pier. In 1915, another roller coaster, the Jack Rabbit Racer, was opened. It was part of the Silver Spray Pier which included several new rides and concessions. The Jack Rabbit Racer was removed in the 1920s to make way for the Cyclone Racer roller coaster which opened in May 1930. When the breakwater was built, the beach extended and the pier expanded to cover the shore.


In 1911, a biplane flown by Calbraith Perry Rodgers touched down on Long Beach’s sandy beach in the first transcontinental flight. Until the building of the Long Beach Airport in 1923, the beach served as a runway.

Daugherty Field (named after Earl S. Daugherty, one of the area’s pioneer aviators) has since been featured in several films, including Bobby-Soxer, Commando, Little Children, and The Parent Trap (1998).


In 1909, William Selig and Francis Boggs relocated their movie-making apparatus to Boggs’ rented bungalow in Edendale and that neighborhood quickly became the center of California’s film industry. Far-off Long Beach was another early hotbed of entertainment. The Pike boasted eight movie houses and two stock theater companies. In 1908, Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle chose the Byde A Whyle Theater for the site of his marriage. Famed vamp Theda Bara also had a home there.

In 1913, Long Beach got its first movie studio when the Balboa Amusement Producing Company (also known as Balboa Studios) opened at 6th Street and Alamitos Avenue. Balboa employed Jackie Saunders, Ruth Roland, Henry King, Lewis Cody, William Desmond Taylor, Baby Marie Osborne, and many other silent stars and directors. By 1917, Hollywood had supplanted Edendale as the center of the film industry but Balboa was nonetheless Long Beach’s biggest employer.

Not all the locals enjoyed the presence of film folks. Long Beach was supposedly dry but film stars openly drank and did other drugs, wore comparatively immodest beachwear, and frequently created scandals.

William Desmond Taylor directing Top of New York (1921)

One of the biggest scandals involved the murder of director/actor/writer William Desmond Taylor in 1922. Taylor’s murder (along with the Fatty Arbuckle trial and the drug-related deaths of Barbara La Marr, Jeanne Eagels, Olive Thomas, and Wallace Reid) led to movie studios adding “morality clauses” or “moral turpitude clauses” to their contracts. Balboa closed permanently in 1923 and the buildings were demolished in 1925.

 The Art Theatre of Long Beach opened in 1924 as the 636-seat Carter Theatre. It was remodeled in 1934 in the Streamline Moderne-style by Schilling & Schilling and renamed The Lee Theatre. It was remodeled again in 1947 and re-named The Art Theatre.


In 1916, the remaining 3,500 acres of Rancho Los Cerritos had been subdivided into the neighborhoods of Bixby Knolls, California Heights, North Long Beach, and part of Signal Hill. The town came to be referred to as “Iowa by the sea” due to a large influx of people from that state and other states in the Middle West. As in Highland Park, huge picnics for each state were a popular annual event in Long Beach until the 1960s.

Although California’s surfing scene is said to have gotten its start in Long Beach in 1911, after two surfers returned from Hawaii, Long Beach hosted the first National Surfing and Paddleboard Championships in 1938. Surfing doesn’t really happen anymore because the breakwater built in 1949 keeps the waters pretty calm, although there are efforts to remove it.


Rev. Octavius Parker rode his horse from San Pedro to Long Beach to conduct the first-ever Episcopal service in Long Beach on 27 June 1897 at the Long Beach Masonic Hall. For the next two years after that, services were held at a saloon on First and Locust, the amazingly-named “Pickles Hall.” They later established a parish down the street before building a church at the current location in 1917. It appeared in at least two movies: Seen in Over the River… the Life of Lydia Maria Child Abolitionist for Freedom and Street Fighter – The Legend of Chun-Li.


May 1923, Long Beach, California, USA — Oil Rigs at the Long Beach Oil Field

The Long Beach Oil Field was discovered in 1921 on Signal Hill. The discovery of the Long Beach Oil Field, brought in by the gusher at the Alamitos No. 1 well, made Long Beach a major oil producer; in fact, the most productive in the world. In 1924, however, Signal Hill was incorporated as its own city. In 1932, the even larger Wilmington Oil Field was developed. The following year, the Long Beach earthquake of 1933 caused massive damage and killed 120 people.

One of the oil islands (source unknown)

My favorite part about the discovery of oil in the area is the construction of four artificial islands: Grissom, White, Freeman, and Chafee. On three of the islands, the oil machinery is obscured by odd, retro-futuristic architectural elements that just make me want to swim out to them. At night, they’re illuminated with colored lights.


St. Mary Medical Center first was founded in August 1923. It has appeared in several films including Heat, Blade, Gunshy, The X-Files, Constantine, Rush Hour 3, and State of Play.


Up until 1942, Long Beach boasted a large Japanese-American population. Most lived in the Japanese fishing village of Furusato on the augmented mudflat of Terminal Island and worked in fish canneries or on small truck farms. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Japanese Americans were forcibly relocated to concentration camps without due process. Most never returned to Long Beach and today they make up less than one percent of the population although Long Beach is still home to a Japanese Community Center and the Japanese Buddhist Church of Long Beach.


Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography‘s map of Terminal Island, available in art prints and on merchandise

With the locals removed, in 1943, the Secretary of the Navy established the facilities as the US Naval Dry Docks, Roosevelt Base, California. The name was changed to Terminal Island Naval Shipyard in 1945. It became Long Beach Naval Shipyard in 1948. It closed in 1997. It’s appeared in the films Gone in 60 Seconds (2000), Lethal Weapon 4, and Silent Running. To read more about Terminal Island, click here.


Broadway Corridor

The stretch of East Broadway between Downtown Long Beach and Belmont Shore has had a strong gay presence since the 1940s. However, things really got hopping in 1966, when a dwarf named Lucy opened a bar, Lil’ Lucy’s. Gay bars followed, and then other gay-owned businesses. After West Hollywood and Silver Lake, Broadway Corridor is the third-largest gayborhood in the Southland and, as with the other two, one with a quite distinct character.


International Tower Condominium building (source unknown)

After the relocation of the Japanese, Downtown Long Beach became home to many Dutch, Greek, Italian, Maltese, Portuguese, and Spanish immigrants, many of whom filled the vacant positions at the fish canneries and in manufacturing. In the 1960s, Long Beach became a significant port of entry for Asian and Latino immigrants as well. Perhaps reflecting this increasingly cosmopolitan character, the International Tower opened in 1966, originally as a long-term residency hotel. It was since been converted to condos and has appeared in the films Anchorman, Gone in Sixty Seconds, Gone in 60 Seconds (1974), and Lethal Weapon.


From 1936 till 1967 the RMS Queen Mary sailed the North Atlantic. Upon her retirement, she relocated to Long Beach where she now functions as a tourist attraction, hotel, museum, and event facility. The attraction has been featured in the films Adventures of the Queen, The Aviator, Being John Malkovich, The Cable Guy, Chain of Command, Deadline Auto Theft,  Death Cruise, Dodsworth, Farewell, My Lovely, Goliath Awaits, Gone in 60 Seconds (1974), Grace Kelly, The Gumball Rally, He’s Just Not That Into You, Intrepid, L.A. Confidential, Liberace – A Valentine Special, A Love Affair – The Eleanor and Lou Gehrig Story, Mame, Mark Twain – Beneath the Laughter, Meet Danny Wilson, The Memory of Eva Ryker, No Greater Love, Out to Sea, Pearl Harbor, Poseidon Adventure (1972), SOS Titanic, Someone To Watch Over Me, The Thirteenth Floor, Tidal Wave – No Escape, Titanic II (who knew?), Treacherous Crossing, Trippin’, Under the Rainbow, Voyager, WC Fields and Me, and Winds of War.

From 1983 to 1993, the Queen Mary was accompanied by famous whack job Howard Hughes‘s Spruce Goose, which was housed in the large Queen Mary Dome. The enormous plane was ultimately moved to The Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum in McMinnville, Oregon. The dome later served as a soundstage and now as a Carnival Cruise Lines terminal. It’s been featured in the films A.I., American Pie, Barton Fink, Batman Forever, The Haunting (1999), Jack Frost (1998), Last Action Hero, The Natural, and Stargate.


In 1967 construction started on the Belmont Plaza Beach Center. It was dedicated on 16 August 1968 for the U.S. Olympic trials. The facility, renamed Belmont Plaza Olympic Pool, was used in the filming of Titanic.


The Hyatt Regency Long Beach opened in 1983 along the edge of Rainbow Harbor. The Hotel has been featured in the film Last Action Hero, Last Man Standing, and the Anna Nicole Smith vehicle Skyscraper (1996).


The current Long Beach City Hall was built in 1988. In the future, it will be re-purposed as a Starfleet Academy assembly hall. It is there that Kirk and Spock will face trial after Kirk cheats on the Kobayashi Maru. In other Long Beach Trek Trivia, the Long Beach Generating Station at Terminal Island was featured as the machine room of the USS Kelvin.


HarborPlace Tower began construction and was completed in 1992. It’s been seen in the films Heat and The Craft.


In 1998, the non-profit Aquarium of the Pacific opened. Although haters often compare it unfavorably to Shedd Aquarium or Monterey Bay Aquarium, I think it’s pretty cool. It was developed by Kajima International, which employed architects from the Los Angeles office of Hellmuth, Obata & Kassanbaum, and San Francisco‘s Esherick Homsey Dodge and Davis. The facility houses a collection of over 12,500 animals from over 550 different species.


Over the years Long Beach has hosted several radio stations. KNAC began in the late 1960s as a “freeform” format station where stoned DJs played the likes of Frank Zappa and Firesign Theater. It later changed formats to Alternative and, later, Heavy Metal. KLON began in 1950 and was owned by the Long Beach Unified School District. They began playing jazz (and blues) in 1981. The station changed to KKJZ in July 2002. Long Beach is also home to the Christian broadcaster KFRN. Long Beach City College operates two student-run internet radio stations, KCTY FM and KLBC AM.


The Bob Cole Conservatory of Music is the school of music at CSULB. Throughout the year, they present a variety of music concerts. Live music is also featured at the Best Western Golden Sails Hotel and the SeaPort Marina Hotel, the latter of which features weekly blues and reggae performances.


The Long Beach Municipal Band, founded in 1909, is the longest-running municipally supported band in the country. They play concerts in various parks around the city. The Long Beach Symphony Orchestra plays numerous concerts throughout the year, mainly at the Terrace Theater in the Long Beach Convention and Entertainment Center. The Long Beach Opera, founded in 1979, is the oldest professional opera company serving the Los Angeles and Orange Counties, performing at the Terrace Theater, the Center Theater, and the Richard and Karen Carpenter Performing Arts CenterSince 1958, the volunteer Long Beach Community Concert Association has performed four Sunday afternoons a year at the Carpenter as well as at various senior care and senior housing facilities around the greater Long Beach area.


Long Beach is the host to a number of long-running music festivals. They include the Ragga Muffins Festival (in February), the Long Beach Crawfish Festival (in May), El Dia De San Juan Festival (in June), the Aloha Concert Jam (also in June), the Long Beach Jazz Festival (in August), the Long Beach Blues Festival (in September), and the Brazilian Street Carnaval (also in September).


Long Beach is also the point of origin for many bands and musicians, including Tha Eastsidaz, Nate Dogg, Warren GThe Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Sublime, Snoop Dogg, 213, The Long Beach Dub Allstars, Crooked I, Spike Jones and Michelle Phillips.


Now, normally I try to list every restaurant in a community that isn’t a multi-state or international chain. However, due to Long Beach’s large size, my time constraints, and the blog entry’s memory limits, I’m going to have to be really selective. To start with, several restaurants in Long Beach are noteworthy for having been filming locations, including George’s 50s Diner (as seen in A Cinderella Story), Joe Jost’s (featured in The Bodyguard), Khoury’s (as seen in As Good as It Gets), and The Madison (featured in Street Sisters and Dinner for Schmucks). As we lunched in Long Beach, we ate the Belmont Brewing Company. The oceanfront view is great and the food was OK. For dinner, we dined at George’s Greek Cafe, which was good.


As with the restaurants, I’m going to have to be selective with a list of Long Beach’s Bars. We popped into The Pike Bar & Fish Grill, which is owned by Chris Reece, former drummer of Social Distortion. As you’d expect, the jukebox features west coast punk, honky-tonk, Morrissey, rockabilly, &c. Other bars include Alex’s Bar, The Annex, Art Du Vin Wine Bar, Ashley’s, District Wine, The Falcon, 49’rs Tavern, 4th Street Vine, House of Hayden, The Mineshaft,  Observation Bar, Paradise Piano Bar & Restaurant, Puka Bar, Shannon’s on Pine, Silver Bullet Saloon (seen in Thelma & Louise), Sweet Water Saloon, Thirsty Isle, V Room, The Wine Bar, and The Yardhouse Bar & Restaurant.


With a city Long Beach’s size, it’s no wonder there are loads of exciting ways to pass one’s evening, especially if one likes playing pool. Yankee Doodles has a game room with pool, ping pong, shuffleboard, and darts. Utopia also has pool and live music. Jillian’s also has pool as well as dancing. The aforementioned Pike is home-away-from-home to Hollywood’s Laugh Factory and is the home of the Stand-Up Comedy Hall of Fame. There are also several lounges and nightclubs including Club Ripples, Club Bounce, Shore Ultra Lounge, Executive Suite, Call Sick on Friday, Sevilla Nightclub, Basement Lounge, Rhythm Lounge, Cohiba Nightclub & Cigar Lounge, and Mensa Lounge & Nightclub.


Wyland’s mural obscured by trees (you’re welcome)

In 1965, Long Beach hosted the first International Sculpture Symposium to be held in the US. Eight sculptors created works that adorn Cal State Long Beach‘s campus. In all, there are more than twenty now. Long Beach also has a Mural and Cultural Arts Program, which accounts for a portion of the city’s street art. The most famous mural is Wyland’s Whaling Wall, the world’s largest mural… and also one of the most artless. It blemishes the Long Beach Sports Arena and has confused more than a few would-be visitors to the aquarium.

The Arts Council for Long Beach and the Redevelopment Agency is supposed to ensure that new private developments contribute to the arts fund or commission artworks for their new projects. Long Beach boasts several quality art museums including The Museum of Latin American Art, The Long Beach Museum of Art, The University Art Museum, and The Pacific Island Ethnic Art Museum. The East Village Arts District hosts monthly art openings and exhibits on the second Saturday of the month during the Artwalk. Long Beach art galleries include DDR Projects, ExpoGallery WOW WOW, Hit and Run, Koos Art Center, Shore Books and Art Gallery, and Village Treasures.


Long Beach has several theater companies and theaters, notably Alive Theatre, Found Theatre, GO-FAME Youth Theater Company, International City Theatre, Long Beach Playhouse, Long Beach Shakespeare, Musical Theatre West, Open, Terrace Theatre, The All American Melodrama Theater, The Garage Theatre, and Tibbies Great American Cabaret. In addition, both CSU Long Beach and Long Beach City College maintain active theater departments.


Despite the frequent bemoanings of SoCal’s detractors, there are major cultural events to experience almost every month. The Long Beach Grand Prix has taken place along the streets of Long Beach every April since 1975 and is the most-attended Long Beach event. Since 1984, the Long Beach Lesbian & Gay Pride Parade & Festival has been held in Spring and is the third-largest Gay Pride Parade in the United States. The Long Beach Sea Festival is held during the summer months and features volleyball, movies on the beach, and a tiki festival. In July, there is the annual Catalina Ski Race, which starts from Long Beach Harbor and goes to Catalina Island and back. Since 1964, every August has hosted the Congressional Cup, the only grade 1 match race regatta held in the US. In October, Long Beach State hosts the CSULB Widescreen Film Festival at the Carpenter Performing Arts Center. Since 1946, the Naples Island Christmas Boat Parade has been held. The Parade of a Thousand Lights takes place in the Shoreline Village area.


The Long Beach Department of Parks, Recreation & Marine manages 92 parks covering over 1,250 hectares throughout Long Beach. The El Dorado Regional Park features fishing lakes, a youth campground, bike trails, picnic areas, and more. The Long Beach Greenbelt is a section of the old Pacific Electric right-of-way, restored as native habitat that supports approximately forty species of California native plants. The Carmelitos Housing Project has the three-acre The Growing Experience Garden which is truly impressive and not to mention pretty eye-opening if the thought of housing projects makes you think only of squalor and violence. And finally, the Earl Burns Miller Japanese Garden is located on the campus of California State Long Beach and is a popular site for weddings.


Due to the California Coastal Commission, public access laws, and environmental regulations, most of the Southland’s oceanfront communities aren’t characterized by the presence of highrise skyscrapers. Long Beach is a notable and beautiful exception. Some of the taller buildings have already been mentioned in this entry but here’s a summary. The first highrise was the 16-story Villa Riviera Apartments, completed in 1929. In the 1960s, the 27-story International Tower (1967) and 18-story California Bank & Trust were completed. In the 1980s, the 20-story Shoreline Square (1988) and 30-story One World Trade Center (1989) were added. In 1992, the 22-story Harborplace Towers were completed.

In stark contrast to the city of Los Angeles, most of Long Beach’s highrise development has occurred in the 20th century. In 2004, the 19-story Aqua Towers were built. The 21 and 29-story West Ocean Condominiums were completed in 2007 — the same year as the 22-story Edgewater on Ocean.


If you’re into museums or history, Long Beach has several sites of note. There’s the S.S. Lane Victory Memorial Museum, The Lifeguard Museum, The Historical Society of Long Beach, The Scorpion Submarine Museum, The Long Beach Fire Department Museum, and The Dominguez Rancho Adobe Museum.


A portion of 4th street is known colloquially as Retro Row.

With so many diverse neighborhoods, one of the cheapest, most interesting things in LBC is to walk around. The Disney-esque Shoreline Village, along Rainbow Harbor, has numerous shops, restaurants, and boat and bike rentals. Over in Naples, you can catch a gondola ride. Whale-watching is a popular activity when Gray Whales come to the waters off the city. The Long Beach Convention & Entertainment Center hosts boat shows, car shows, stamp collector shows, and Disney on Ice. And last but not least, the El Dorado Park archery range offers participants a chance to show off their skills with a bow and arrow at the site of the 1984 Olympic competition.

Until next time!

Big Rabbit in Long Beach

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Eric Brightwell is an adventurer, essayist, rambler, explorer, cartographer, and guerrilla gardener who is always seeking paid writing, speaking, traveling, and art opportunities. He is not interested in generating advertorials, cranking out clickbait, or laboring away in a listicle mill “for exposure.”
Brightwell has written for Angels Walk LAAmoeblogBoom: A Journal of CaliforniadiaCRITICSHidden Los Angeles, and KCET Departures. His art has been featured by the American Institute of Architects, the Architecture & Design Museum, the Craft ContemporaryForm Follows FunctionLos Angeles County Store, the book SidewalkingSkid Row Housing Trust, and 1650 Gallery. Brightwell has been featured as subject in The Los Angeles TimesHuffington PostLos Angeles MagazineLAistCurbedLAEastsider LABoing BoingLos Angeles, I’m Yours, and on Notebook on Cities and Culture. He has been a guest speaker on KCRW‘s Which Way, LA?, at Emerson Collegeand the University of Southern California.
Brightwell is currently writing a book about Los Angeles and you can follow him on AmebaDuolingoFacebookGoodreadsInstagramMubithe StoryGraphand Twitter.

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