Monthly Archives: January 2014

PHOTOS: Dunkin’ is in, but this doughnut’s out!

The Original Grind and it’s iconic ‘donut’ near the corner of Seventh Street and Pacific Coast Highway in Long Beach on Tuesday.  A franchisee for the Dunkin’ Donuts restaurant chain, which plans to demolish the building with the pink-frosted treat, plans to build Long Beach’s first drive-through restaurant on the site in coming months. It’s tossing the doughnut since it doesn’t fit the chain’s breakfast bill. Read the story>>


PHOTOS: Long Beach Artist of the Week Ashleigh Roe

Artist of the Week is Ashleigh Roe, a senior at Lakewood High School. Roe is a stage technician at the school.

MR. LONG BEACH: Nicknames, Mottos and Monikers

This week’s mystery photo

My Little Beachers have nicknames; the oldest boy is sometime called Sally – shortened from Salamander, which rhymes with his first name. And, sometimes we call my daughter Mimi – that’s not her name but a homage to her late grandmother. Often I just call her Pumpkin, which is also not her name.

Long Beach is the 36th largest city in the U.S – bigger in population than Miami, Minneapolis and Cleveland. The city’s size has earned it a long list of monikers. We’re not Angelinos and we’re not Orange Countites or Orange Counters or whatever you call people from the OC. We’re Long Beachers.

If the city weren’t in the shadow of Los Angeles, it’d have its own T.V. and radio stations and maybe even two daily newspapers. Oh, wait … never mind.

The city has had the same name since the late 19th century when William E. Willmore sold 4,000 acres of seaside land to The Long Beach Land and Water Company. Willmore had originally named the city after himself.

Even though the name Long Beach has remained a constant, city mottos and nicknames have come and gone. Some official and some not so official.

“The International City” is the official motto of Long Beach. It graces the city’s flag and has been around long enough to influence the names of city institutions like The International City Theater and businesses like International City Bank and even the Motel 6 Long Beach International City.

The Latin motto on the city seal, urbs amicitiae, loosely translates to “The Friendly City”. And, while I think the city is mostly friendly, I’ve never seen it used anywhere else.

For a big part of the 20th century Long Beach was informally known as “Iowa by the Sea” for the large number of Iowa transplants.

In fact, there were so many of the Midwesterners in Long Beach that Herbert Hoover (a native of Iowa) spoke at the city’s annual Iowa State Picnic during his campaign for president. Picnic organizer Jo Ann Kock, of the Iowa Association of Long Beach, said they are in the process of planning the 114th gathering slated for sometime later this year. About 80 to 90 people usually show up – down from the 100,000 she said used to attend.

The meaning of the “LBC” is hotly debated.  It’s been said to mean “Long Beach City”, “Long Beach/Compton” or “Long Beach Crips”. I’m not sure which it is, but I can tell you what it’s not. It’s not Louisiana Baptist Convention, Linux Based Cluster, or Loose Bladder Construction as Google would have you believe. For the true meaning, you might ask Snoop D-O-double-G.

“The Aquatic Capital of America” is a relatively new one. The City Council approved the name in 2008 after efforts by a committee led by Tom Shadden. According to, Shadden’s goal was to market the city’s aquatic activities to the public.

Long Beach’s push for bikes, bike infrastructure and bike safety, has produced the self appointed, “Most Bike Friendly City in America” – a quick look at’s rankings show Long Beach is actually No. 19. But, that’s up 23 in the most recent ranking. The term “Bike Friendly” was coined by the late Mark Bixby, an avid cyclist, about five years ago. Simply put, it means making bicycle riders a priority.

Got a nickname suggestion for our city? Send it, or any other questions, to

Mr. Long Beach Fun Fact: Newspaper ads in the early 1950s touted homes in the Orange County neighborhood of Rossmoor as “Long Beach’s Smartest Suburb” – as time went on, the slogan changed to, “Southern California’s Smartest New Suburb…Near Long Beach.”

PHOTOS: Long Beach’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Park Neighborhood

A peek in to Long Beach Martin Luther King, Jr. Park Neighborhood read the story>>

MR. LONG BEACH: Hidden House History

In my primary role as a chief photographer at the Long Beach Register I spend a lot of time on the streets. I love the history of this city and will admit I spend a fair amount of time lamenting all the historic buildings that have been torn down in the name of progress.

Last week I wrote about the Jergins Trust building – of which the only remains are a tunnel under Ocean Boulevard downtown. This week I decided to look into some historic buildings that are still standing.

If you look closely you’ll find bits of Long Beach’s past in the homes nestled between post-war bungalows and modern businesses across the city. There are a number of houses I often wonder about.

Who would build such a skinny house? 

Ripley’s Believe It or Not called it “America’s Thinnest House,” and it’s been recognized by the Guinness folks as the “nation’s skinniest house.”

The home at 706 Gladys Avenue sits on a 10-by-50-foot lot, but the house is about 9 feet wide. It was built in 1932 as a bet. It’s a three-story Tudor style home.

As the story goes, the lot was created by a surveying oversight. Nelson Rummond, a construction firm employee, accepted the small lot as a repayment for a $100 loan. People told Rummond the lot was too small to build on – he set out to prove them wrong.

Attorney William John Cox ran his law practice from the Skinny House from 1977 and 1981. It is the office he used to prosecute the Holocaust denial case.

What’s behind those gates?

It’s probably Long Beach’s first gated community and it’s called La Linda – meaning The Pretty.

A home at 11 La Linda Drive was built in the 1890s for George Bixby on 10 acres of farmland. The nine-bedroom, seven-bath, 7,000-square-foot house took three years to build. Although ranch operations stopped in 1910, Bixby lived in the house until his death in 1920. The land was then subdivided and lots were sold.

Today the neighborhood is a mix of American Colonial, Spanish and mid-century homes. The gates prevent you from driving past this mansion, but a quick look at Google Maps satellite view shows its impressive size.  

House with a hall?

In 1907, William Kale built and lived in the home on the southwest corner of Linden Avenue and Ninth Street. According to Long Beach historic landmark documents, Kale built a lavish house – spending $4,500 – as compared to the usual $1,500 of the time.

E.T. Bell and Rolla Alford, a music teacher, moved into the home in 1931. Bell built an addition to the house – a music hall. During the Great Depression and World War II, Alford turned the prestigious house into an art center. The hall would later become the Alford Arts Academy.

At some point in the last century the hall was occupied by Church of Religious Science, then Temple Beth-El. Today it is a meeting center for Mental Health America’s Wellness Center.

There are a lot more stories hidden in the homes of Long Beach. Who knows what stories are hidden in your neighborhood?

PHOTOS: Long Beach Police’s Eye in the Sky

On January 8, 2014, I took a ride in the Long Beach Police helicopter for a story about the effectiveness of policing from the air. Here are the pictures – plus some bonus shots around Long Beach. Read the story>>

MR. LONG BEACH: A Peek in to Long Beach’s Underground


Q. I would like to know what happened to the areas that were under the street level in downtown Long Beach. I remember seeing the square glass blocks in the sidewalks on Third Street, east of Pine Avenue. I know there were shops down there as my dad and I went into them. This was in the ‘50s. Are those areas still there and are there pictures? — Dave Flores, Long Beach resident since 1950

A. As far as I can tell, there aren’t any shops underground on Third Street east of Pine Avenue. But that’s not to say there weren’t shops under Long Beach in the 1950s.

The only building on Third Street east of Pine Avenue that has a basement is F&M Bank. According to a manager in the historic building, the underground is used for bank business. It was never open to the public.

You’re question is a good one and was fun because it forced me to explore the underside of Long Beach. Here’s what I found.

The Rowen/Bradley building, built in the early 1930s, sits in the 200 block of North Pine Avenue has a basement with rental space. The below-street level space was added in the 1980s – so it’s probably not what you’re remembering. The only things down there now are an e-cigerette shop and Taco Beach offices.

The best bet for underground shops was the Jergins Subway/Arcade. The passage was a walkway under Ocean Boulevard that led pedestrians from the north side of Ocean Boulevard, under the street, then into the arcade on the ground floor of the Jergins Trust Building. The tunnel still exists today, but it is closed to the public.

The Jergins Trust Building, built in 1917, was at the southeast corner of Ocean Boulevard and Pine Avenue. The subway was added in 1927. According to Del Davis, Long Beach public service manager, the underground walkway was built because 2,000 people a day were crossing the street to get to the waterfront – 4,000 a day on the weekends.

During the Depression shops were allowed in the tunnel. By the 1950s the shops were gone. However, the arcade on the ground floor of the building, at the south end of the tunnel, remained. The tunnel was sealed up in 1967 when the city widened Ocean Boulevard.

The building was destroyed in 1988 to make room for a hotel that never appeared.

You can still have fun under Long Beach today.

If you’re looking for live music, check out Harvelle’s under the Insurance Exchange Building on the downtown Promenade. The Federal Bar, in the Security Building on First Street and Pine Avenue, has two ways to hang out under the city – live music at the Federal Underground or grab a drink and some grub at the Parlour Lounge.

And Dave, if your’e still looking for those glass blocks in the sidewalk, there are some right in front of the Broadlind on Linden Avenue, just south of Broadway.

From queries about the history of Long Beach, to “Can my neighbor raise bees in his backyard,” Mr. Long Beach will find the answers. I am Mr. Long Beach. Send your questions to


PHOTOS: Palm Frond Art

Glen Mann makes animals and  bug-like creature from Palm fronds and other found materials at his Long Beach home. Mann secretly installs these sculptures around his Rose Park and Belmont Heights neighborhood.

MR. LONG BEACH: What’s Breaking with the Breakwater


Q. What’s the status of the breakwater?
— Lauren Williams, Belmont Heights

A. We are “further along today then ever before in the history of the breakwater” toward ecosystem restoration, according to Vice Mayor Robert Garcia.

But what does that mean? 

The breakwater is owned by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. As much as city leaders would like to alter it, they can’t. At least not without working with the Corps.

The Feds required the city to pay for half the cost of an ecosystem recovery study before any decisions are made about the breakwater. The Corps of Engineers will pay the rest.

Years ago the City of Long Beach set aside $4 million of Tidelands funds to pay for its share of the study. Last year the price tag on that study dropped to $3 million.

Garcia said the city agreed to pony up 75 percent of that money, or $2.25 million, to get the ball rolling. He expects it to start early this year.

The Vice Mayor stressed that his, and the city’s, goal is to do as much ecosystem restoration as possible without damage to homes and other assets. He added that could mean altering the breakwater, removing sections or something completely different – it depends on the results of the study.

What IS the breakwater?

The Long Beach Breakwater, one of the world’s largest, is an 8.4-mile rocky force field about 2 1/2 miles from the coast that keeps waves at bay and prevents erosion. It was built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers from 1941 to 1949.

Sitting in about 50 feet of water and rising 10 feet above sea level, the barrier was built to protect the U.S. Navy’s Pacific Fleet that was stationed in the city. The Navy left in 1996 and that’s when serious debate started about changing, or removing, the breakwater.

When it comes to the line of Santa Catalina Island rocks off our coast, everyone has an opinion. Most people seem to be in favor of tearing it down. However, some believe that the breakwater is the only thing protecting multi-million dollar homes on the Peninsula.

The consensus is that if we tear down the breakwater, the surf – and surfers – will return. That may be the hope of many. But, the surf may not return. Mr. Long Beach remembers covering a breakwater story long ago where an engineer explained that since the Port of Long Beach now extends much further then it did in the 1930s there will never be surf like there once was.

As for the city, surf may be a by product, but officials are sticking to their stated goal of “ecosystem restoration.”

In the end, it’s all guess work. Will the surf return? Will the Peninsula homes fall? Will anything ever be done with the breakwater? Only time will tell.

From queries about the history of Long Beach to questions about your neighborhood, Mr. Long Beach will find the answers. Send your questions to


PHOTOS: Spreading Warmth

Lorian Gordon knits hats and scarves in her Long Beach home and distributes them to the homeless. She also hands out gloves, hoodies, toiletries and playing cards.