Long Beach California is a US city located on the Pacific coast (West Coast), in Los Angeles County. To the north is downtown Los Angeles CA, roughly 20 miless. To the Southeast Long Beach borders Orange County (OC). Situated between two major Southern California areas makes LB an attractive destination for new residents, as well as vacationers and businesses.
Long Beach is the 5th largest city in California and the 38th largest city in the US and its population is nearly 500,000. Within Long Beach the city of Signal Hill is completely surrounded by Long Beach. LB is home to one of the worlds largest shipping ports – the Port of Long Beach. The city is has a massive oil industry as well, from land as well as off shore drilling. Long Beach is also full of many large manufacturing and health care companies. Recnently Long Beach was ranked America’s most walkable cities, although it is very different from more densely poulated cities such as New York City because outside of the downtown areas Long Beach is very spread out and may parts would be very difficult to get to on foot. Public transportation is somewhat useful, but again far inferior to more densely populated cities. Indigenous people have lived in coastal southern California for at least ten thousand years or so and several cultures inhabited Long Beach. When Spanish explorers found LB in the 16th century the most dominant group were the Tongva people, who had at least three major settlements within the present day city boundaries.
The city of Long Beach is a Charter City and is governed by nine elected City Council members, and the Mayor. The City Attorney, City Auditor, and City Prosecutor are also elected positions within Long Beach. Long Beach was first incorporated in 1888 with 59 buildings and a new school. Then, in 1897 the city became disincorporated as a results of prohibition and high taxes. Before the year 1897 was out, the citizens voted to reincorporate, and the 1897 incorporation is shown on the city seal to this day.
Jotham Bixby, known as the Father of Long Beach managed a southern ranch, and three years later others bought into the property and would later form the Bixby Land Company. In the 1870s as many as 30,000 sheep were kept at the ranch and sheared to provide wool for trade. In 1880, Bixby sold 4,000 acres of the Rancho Los Cerritos to William E. Willmore, who subdivided it in hopes of creating Wilmore City, a farm community. His efforts failed and he was bought out by a Los Angeles syndicate which called itself the Long Beach Land and Water Company. In 1888 they changed the name of the community to Long Beach, which was then incorporated as a city.
In 1921 oil was discovered on Signal Hill, which split off as a separate incorporated city shortly afterwards. This made Long Beach a large oil producer almost instantly. Long Beach became famous in the 1930s as an oil town. The 6.3 magnitude earthquake of 1933 caused significant damage to the city and surrounding areas. This was devistating to Long Beach, as 120 people died, many homes, schools and other buildings. Long Beach was also the site of The Los Angeles Air Raid of 1942, when observers for the Army Air Corps, reported being fired on from aggressors in the sea. Anti-aircraft batteries fired into the night sky, but no planes were ever sighted.
In 1998 the Aquarium of the Pacific in downtown Long Beach opened and has since become a major attraction for local residents, as well as travelers. It has been visited by more than 13 million people since its opening in 1998. The Aquarium of the Pacific recently made history as the first in the museum, aquarium or zoo to become a Climate Action Leader for voluntarily controlling, measuring, and reporting its green house gas emissions to the Climate Action Registry and to the public.
Bike riding in Long Beach is a very popular for of exercise and transportation. There are bike paths along city streets and the popular 2nd St. in Belmont Shore offers a green bike lane. The Shoreline Pedestrian Bikepath along the ocean from Shoreline Village to Belmont Shore is commonly used. The Los Angeles River bicycle path is in southwest Long Beach between Downtown and the Port of LB and other paths go as far as El Dorado Regional Park in the more residential parts of Long Beach.
Long Beach CA has a Mediterranean climate which has very mild season changes, which makes it and ideal place for year round outdoor activities such as comping, surfing, picnics, personal training, hiking, rock climbing, outdoor boot camps, etc. The geographic location directly east of the Palos Verdes Peninsula, paired with its mostly south facing coastline results in the community having very different weather patterns than coastal communities to the north and south of Long Beach. As in most locations in southern California, rainfall occurs mostly during the winter months. Storms can sometimes bring heavy rainfall but storms usually do not last long.
The area that is now Long Beach historically included several ecological communities, with coastal scrub dominating. Very few of the native plants of the region can still be found in Long Beach, as most plant life now found in the area was brought in during the early development of the city and over the years since then. Nearly 100% of the palm trees now found in Long Beach are not indigionous to the area. Some original plants and trees still remain in the El Dorado Nature Center. The city and its residents have ongoing initiatives underway to preserve and reclaim a small part of Long Beach’s ecological heritage. The River Link project has begun to revegetate the Long Beach stretch of the Los Angeles River with indigenous plants in order to preserve this areas natural ecological state. The Pacific Electric Right of Way was planted with indigenous plants and made accessible with foot and bike paths for pedestrians. This space is known as The Long Beach Greenbelt and is the focus of continuing efforts in restoration and community education. The El Dorado Nature Center has now begun to introduce indigenous species to the area. The state governement agency Los Cerritos Wetlands Study Group and grassroots groups are collaborating on a plan to preserve Long Beach’s last remaining wetlands, which is an ongoing effort. Long Beach is the first city in California to join the EcoZone Program through public and private partnerships intended to improve current environmental conditions. These projects seek to reduce pollution, restore native habitat, and provide green areas for the city’s residents. Other places in Long Beach to see natural areas include Bluff Park (coastal bluffs), the Golden Shores Marine Reserve, the Jack Dunster Marine Reserve, Shoreline Park, and DeForest Park, all of which are well preserved and maintaned. The Long Beach Greenbelt is a section of the old Pacific Electric right-of-way, restored by community activists and other groups as native habitat. It now supports about 40 species of California native plants as well as a wildlife. This calm, relaxing atmosphere provides for community open space while educating citizens about what the land was like prior to industrialization and urbanization in the area.
Special attractions such as The Queen Mary is a 1936 ocean liner permanently docked and used as a local attraction as well as a hotel and restaurant. The Queen Mary is docked near the Long Beach Aquarium, which has a Shark Lagoon where people can pet sharks and sting rays and Lorikeet Forest where guests can feed nectar to colorful lorikeet birds. Exhibits at the Aquarium introduce the inhabitants and seascapes of the Pacific, while also focusing on specific conservation messages associated with each region and species. Exhibits at the aquarium range in size and capacity from about 5,000 to 350,000 gallons or more. The Long Beach Department of Parks, Recreation and Marine received the Gold Medal award from the National Parks and Recreation Society in 2002, 2003, and 2004, for the Department’s “outstanding management practices and programs.” The Department manages 92 parks covering 3,100 acres including El Dorado Regional Park, which features fishing lakes, an archery range, youth campground, bike routes, and picnic areas. The Department also operates four public swimming pools, and launch ramps for boaters to access the Pacific Ocean.
The racial composition of Long Beach is 44% White (Non-Hispanic Whites: 30.0%), 13.4% Black or African American, 0.4% Native American, 13.2% Asian, 0.8% Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander, 24.1% from some other race and 4% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latinos make up 40.2% of the total population (2006-2008 American Community Survey). As of the census of 2000, there were 461,522 people, 163,088 households, and 99,646 families in Long Beach and there were 171,632 housing units. This has been a significant decrease since the 1950s. The city was once known as “Iowa by the Sea” or “Iowa under Palm Trees.” Long Beach was a major port of entry for European, Asian and Latin American immigrants determined to make it to Los Angeles in the 20th century. The Harbor area of downtown Long Beach was once home to people of Dutch, Italion, Greek, Maltese, Spanish and Portuguese ancestry, most of them were employed in fish processing plants and manufacturing jobs until the 1960s. According to a report in 2000 by USA Today Long Beach is the most ethnically diverse large city in the US. Its Asian community includes a large Cambodian community, the second-largest Cambodian community outside of Asia, second only to Paris. There are also large populations of immigrants and descendants from Vietnam and the Philippines. LB has a relatively high proportion of Pacific Islanders from Samoa and Tonga. Most American Indians in Long Beach, about 0.8% of the city’s population, were moved there during the Department of Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs urban relocation programs during the 1950s. Long Beach once had a sizable Japanese American population which largely worked in fish canneries and on small truck farms in the area. After the Attack on Pearl Harbor and subsequent Japanese declaration of war on the United States and Britain, President Franklin D. Roosevelt initiated United States Executive Order 9066 which allowed military commanders to designate areas from which any or all persons may be excluded. All Japanese and Americans of Japanese ancestry were categorically removed from Western coastal regions under 9066 and sent to camps, with no regard for due process. Most did not return to Long Beach after their release from the quarantine camps. Currently, Japanese Americans make up only around 1% of the total population of Long Beach. The city still has a Japanese Buddhist Church.
The Port of Long Beach is the second busiest seaport in the United States. This port serves shipping between the United States and the Pacific Rim and the combined operations of the Port of Long Beach and the Port of Los Angeles are the busiest in the entire US. Also, rail shipping is responsible for about half of the trans-shipments from the port. Long Beach has contributed to the Alameda Corridor project to help increase the capacity of the rail lines, roads, and highways connecting the port to the LA rail hub. Long Beach is the end/biginning of the Blue Line on the Los Angeles Metro rail corridor. Blue Line trains run from Long Beach City Hall to Downtown Los Angeles with limited stops. There is an Amtrak bus shuttle from San Pedro, with stops at the Queen Mary and downtown Long Beach vand Union Station in downtown Los Angeles and ends in Bakersfield CA. The Blue Line MetroRail connects downtown Long Beach to the Staples Center and downtown Los Angeles where it connects with and Pasadena and Hollywood. There are also Greyhound Lines at from the Long Beach Station in downtown Long Beach which go all over the country. All public transportation in Long Beach is provided by Long Beach Transit. Long Beach actually has some free routes and others that require payment. The 49 passenger AquaBus water taxi, which stops at the Aquarium of the Pacific, the Queen Mary, and other locations between the Aquarium, the Queen Mary, and Alamitos Bay Landing near the Long Beach Marina. There is also limited bus service to Orange County through Orange County Transportation Authority buses from Long Beach Route 1. Long Beach Airport primarily serves Long Beach, Orange County and South Bay. This airport is very small and is generally a simple, quick process of flying out of the area with less wait time, small lines and quick check in. Some major freeways run through Long Beach, connecting it with the greater Los Angeles, the Orange County areas, and beyond. I405, the San Diego Freeway bisects the northern and southern portions of the city and takes commuters northwest or southeast to the I5 freeway. The San Diego Freeway also gives quick access to Long Beach Airport, which is located on the north side of the freeway near Signal Hill. The 710 Long Beach Freeway runs north to south on the city’s western border, with its southern terminus adjacent to the Port of Long Beach on Terminal Island at the intersection of the Terminal Island Freeway 103 and State Route 47. The Long Beach Freeway is the major spur route serving Long Beach from Downtown Los Angeles, with its northern terminus near Downtown Los Angeles with the Harbor Freeway I110. Long Beach Freeway joins Long Beach with Terminal Island atthe Gerald Desmond Bridge. PCH – Pacific Coast Highway goes east to southwest through the southern portion of Long Beach. Its intersection with SR19 Lakewood Bouelvard and Los Coyotes intersection is the Los Alamitos Traffic Circle. Long Beach is on a grid system. E. Ocean Boulevard serves as the dividing line between north and south in this area Pine Avenue dividing the city on the east and west. Most of LB is north of Ocean Boulevard. More than three quarters of the city is east of Pine Avenue.
The Long Beach area is commonly used by Los Angeles production companies when filming for TV shows and movies and commercials. The city has been used to look like locations all over the world. Many popular movies are filmed in Long Beach on a regular basis and can be seen filming all around the city. Long Beach’s high schools are especially popular with the film industry for shooting indoor and outdoor scenes. A large number of automobile chase scenes and crashes are filmed on stretches of road near the Long Beach Harbor and on Shoreline Drive. Long Beach is commonly used as a replacement for Miami FL in movies and TV shows.
The city is always protected by the City of Long Beach Fire Department. The LBFD operates out of 23 Fire Stations located throughout the city in 3 Battalions. The LBFD has 6 trucks, 15 ambulances, 1 hazmat truck, 1 heavy rescue unit, 1 mobile command unit, 3 rescue boats, 2 fireboats, 1 Lifeguard dive unit, 2 lifeguard units, 4 arson units, 1 officer’s Unit, 3 crash rescue units, and many other units for safety and rescue. The Long Beach Post Office of the U.S. Postal Service serves as the main postal facility for Long Beach California
The Long Beach Unified School District serves most of the city of Long Beach and other school districts that serve sections of Long Beach include ABC Unified School District, Paramount Unified School District and Private schools. Universities include California State University, Long Beach which is is the largest campus in the California State University network, and the second largest university in the state in terms of total enrollment. The primary community college is Long Beach City College. It is composed of 2 campuses. The Liberal Arts Campus is located in Lakewood Village, and the Pacific Coast Campus is located in Central Long Beach. DeVry University is located in the Kilroy Airport Center and serves serves students who live or work in the area with undergraduate and graduate degree programs in various career fields. There are also many trade schools in the area offering special training.
Rancho Los Alamitos is a historical site owned by the City of Long Beach. It is near the Long Beach campus of the California State University. This site includes five agricultural buildings, including a working blacksmith’s shop, 4 acres of gardens, and an adobe ranch house dating from around 1800. The Rancho is within a gated community that requires security checks to enter. Rancho Los Cerritos is a 4.7-acre historical site owned by Long Beach in the Bixby Knolls area. The adobe buildings date from the 1880s and the site also includes a California history research library for public use. The Earl Burns Miller Japanese Garden is located on the campus of California State University, Long Beach, near the main entry point. Long Beach offers singing gondolier trips through the romantic canals of Naples along with gondola rides on Lake Merritt, on the Napa River, in Huntington Beach, in Redondo Beach, Newport Beach, and at very few other locations. Long Beach is only one of seven places in the Western United States where tourists may ride in a gondola.
The beach area of the city was once home to a now cloded amusement park featuring a roller coaster that extended over the ocean. It was named the Figure 8. Eventually other rides and roller coasters were built in Long Beach and have since been removed.
California’s surfing scene is said to have gotten its start in Long Beach when in two surfers returned from Hawaii in 1911. The city later hosted the first National Surfing and Paddleboard Championships in 1938. Surfing is now extinct in Long Beach due to a 2.2 mile long breakwater, which is a wall that restricts waves from reaching the shore. This wall was built in 1949 to protect the U.S. Pacific Fleet by reducing waves. The breakwater reduces waves and roughness of tide water. This wall also creates stagnant water which is filthy due to a lack of circulation, coupled with the fact that Long Beach receives runn-off water from Los Angeles. The US fleet left in the 1990s but the damaging wall still remains. Research is currently being done to determine potential damage of removing the breakwater.
The Long Beach Dog Beach is the only legal off-leash area on the beach for dogs throughout all of Los Angeles County. The 3 acre area is in Belmont Shore on the beach near the olympic swimming pool.
The popular local daily newspaper is the Long Beach Press Telegram. PT is distributed in most of the South Bay areas of southwest LA County and the Press-Telegram is part of the Los Angeles Newspaper Group out of LA, which has several newspapers in the Southern California area that share reporters and information from common resouces.