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 aquaticcapital.org, 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 bicycle.com’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 MrLongBeach@LBregister.com.
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.”