Long Beach is the southernmost coastal city in Los Angeles County and California’s seventh largest with nearly half a million residents. Exhibiting these characteristics, Long Beach mixes the excitement of an urban metropolis with a California beach environment like no other place in the state. Its beach stretches nearly four miles from the iconic French chateau high-rise Villa Riviera to the charming canals of Naples. Exploring the many facets of Long Beach, it becomes apparent that this is a place of interesting contrasts.
The story of Long Beach began with two Mexican ranchos in the 1830s, Los Cerritos and Los Alamitos. For the next fifty years, Long Beach was a rancher’s world. That is until real estate developers started eyeing more lucrative capitalist ventures in the 1880s. Progress continued incrementally until the Pacific Electric trolley arrived in 1902, ushering in an eight-year title as America’s fastest growing city. For the next three decades, Long Beach solidified its identity through architecture, first as a beachside commercial resort and then again after a 6.4 magnitude earthquake largely destroyed it in 1933.
As one explores Long Beach, the abundance of art, aquatics, and bicycles get repeated like Peter Sagan’s wins. Buildings like the terracotta Farmers and Merchants Bank Tower, the Cooper Arms, Villa Riviera, and Campbell Apartments illustrate the high-style revival architecture that mimicked classic resorts like Atlantic City. More stately buildings along Pine Avenue represent Long Beach’s arrival on the economic scene. For a taste of this period, stop in at The Federal Bar in the old Security Pacific National Bank. This restaurant embraces the building’s truly unique two-story wood interior, painted wood beams, and floor to ceiling windows. Starting in the late 1920s, these styles gave way to a strong Art Deco trend that only multiplied after the 1933 earthquake. Today, Long Beach is synonymous with this Depression-era architecture.
Diverging from such majestic styles are the more industrial and vernacular architecture and sites of the Long Beach harbor. Beyond its early beach resort status, the city embraced and thrived on its special relationship with the ocean. Its sprawling port opened in 1911 and today comprises one half of the largest port in the world. Both L.A. Olympics utilized Long Beach for water events and built dedicated facilities. The harbor, though, is Long Beach’s centerpiece. Stroll through inviting Shoreline Village for yummy eats or watch stunning sunsets on a relaxing harbor boat ride. Looking for something more unique? Stay the night in the incomparable HMS Queen Mary, Cunard’s historic luxury cruise liner.
It has been over a decade since Long Beach hosted a stage of the Amgen Tour of California, but the race could not have chosen a more bike friendly community to kick off 2018. In 2007, Ivan Dominguez won the Stage 7 circuit race along the city’s waterfront. The professionals won’t have much time for sightseeing, but the best way to see Long Beach is by bicycle. With over sixty miles of dedicated off-road bike paths and many more bike lanes, Long Beach is proud to be one of the country’s most friendly cycling communities. From ride share to dedicated bike stations, loop detectors, and the first bicycle-transit center in the U.S., Long Beach is on the cutting edge of urban commuting. With Amgen leading the way to Breakaway from Cancer® and Breakaway from Heart Disease™, Long Beach’s embodiment of healthy living is a perfect match.