Long Beach, CA, has 470,000 residents and lies along the Pacific coast in Southern California. Known for its entertainment venues and big-city amenities, Long Beach has a storied history that residents can look back on with pride.
In 1784, soldier Manuel Nieto received a Spanish land grant that included 55,000 acres in Rancho Los Alamitos and Rancho Los Cerritos. By 1882, Long Beach began to form and became known for a mixture of ranching and real estate development.
The competing Sante Fe and Southern Pacific Railroads brought tons of visitors to the city, sparking a real estate boom in the late 1800s, and in 1888, Willmore City, named after the original developer, became officially known as Long Beach.
From 1902 to 1910, Long Beach grew faster than any other U.S. city. The Discovery of oil in 1921 sparked a real estate boom of $12 million per month that transformed the city’s downtown. As a result, the rich oil fields of Long Beach made California one of the largest oil-producing states.
In 1933, a major earthquake struck the city, and U.S. sailors docked in the port help residents to recover. However, the city soon bounced back with the start of two new industries when, in 1941, The U.S. Naval Shipyard dry dock began servicing large naval ships, and the Douglas Aircraft Company began turning out airplanes for WWII.
California State University was founded in the city in 1949, and the 1960s brought two major attractions to the city, the Long Beach Arena and the Queen Mary cruise line, which became a posh hotel.
The Long Beach Grand Prix Begins
During the 1970s, Long Beach spent millions on a revitalization plan, and, in 1975, the Long Beach Grand Prix begins, and Mario Andretti becomes the first American to win the street race in 1977. Also, the Long Beach Convention & Entertainment Center opens its doors with 88,000 square feet designed for conferences and events.
The city hosted four events during the 1984 Olympics and the 1990s brought new attractions such as the public display of the Spruce Goose, Howard Hughes’ behemoth aircraft, converted into a movie theater.
The Long Beach Aquarium of the Pacific opened in 1998, becoming a major tourist attraction, and the next year the Long Beach Towne Center converted a formal US Naval Hospital into a large entertainment and shopping complex complete with restaurants.
By Air and By Sea
Jet Blue and Carnival Cruiselines began operating in the city in 2002, and the POW! WOW! The Long Beach art movement featured 12 artists creating large murals in 2015. However, the same year saw the last Boeing aircraft to be built in the city, ending a proud era of aviation in Long Beach.
With a 250+ year history, the city of Long Beach continues to grow and prosper. What’s next for this beautiful city by the sea? Only time will tell. Looking for things to do in Long Beach? Click here.