As I’ve mentioned before, I live in Long Beach, California. As I’ve also mentioned, I love it, and one of the reasons I love it is that it’s full of old buildings. OK, OK, not OLD old. Not European old, or even east-coast-of-the-US old. But old enough to make me happy. Today, the Mister and I went on a small walking adventure throughout the area southwest of our apartment and took pictures of some of the cooler buildings we saw.
Be advised: this post is very long and EXTREMELY picture heavy. It focuses entirely on architecture, so if you find that kind of thing boring … prepare to get bored. Be also advised that I take credit for none of the photography here. The Mister took every last one of the photos (except two, and you’ll know them when you see them).
Let’s start off by heading down Ocean Boulevard, toward downtown Long Beach. Here’s a view looking west down Ocean. In most of southern California, the Pacific is to the west. But in Long Beach, just to make things confusing, the ocean is to the south–from this vantage point, to the left.
Here we have a Spanish-style fellow (there are a LOT of Spanish-style buildings around here). Note the enormous bougainvillea out front. We have a lot of that around here too.
And yes, the weather is nice. It wasn’t super warm today–maybe low to mid-60s–but warmer than apparently everywhere else in the country.
This particular area of the city has a great many smallish (say, 12-14 unit) apartment buildings. A lot of them were built in the late 1920s and have charming names.
Hard to read, but this one is called “The Empress.” Not sure what’s going on with the scaffolding back there. (It occurs to me that I should have left these photos bigger. Next time.)
The Art … Nouveau? Deco? (art nerds, help me out) one on the left is called The Regent.
Here’s a better look at it.
This one is called St. Regis. The Mister and I saw a commercial being filmed here in December (more on filming in a second).
Here it is from the front. Very San Francisco, no?
Next up, a couple of this area’s more famous buildings. First is the Villa Riviera.
The Villa Riviera has a pretty interesting history. It was the second-tallest building in southern California when it was built, and it housed a lot of naval officers during WWII. Long Beach has very close ties to the US Navy–my paternal grandfather married my grandmother (who lived on Ocean at the time) in Long Beach when he was in the Navy–but that’s a whole other post. I believe Charlie Chaplin also lived in the Villa Riviera at one point. The roof is actually copper. And guess what else it has up there?
Here’s another iconic one–the Long Beach International Building–that you’ve probably seen before, even if you weren’t aware of it at the time.
And where might you have seen it before? Well … ever seen “Anchorman”?
Quite a bit of filming goes on in Long Beach because it’s cheaper than filming in Los Angeles proper. In the early 20th century, Long Beach actually had its own film studio, called Balboa Studios. These days, the city mostly acts as a stand-in for other SoCal locations (San Diego, LA, Orange County) and places like Miami.
OK, let’s head north, or inland! Downtown Long Beach has lots of awesome old hotels, most of which I think are now used as apartments.
I don’t think this next one is actually a hotel, but it’s hotel-ish, so I’m including it.
One of the bigger old hotels is the Broadlind, so-named because of its location at the corner of Broadway and Linden.
In addition to the many old hotels, there are a few newer MOtels, some with outstanding sign design.
And we have a giant old bank building.
Now let’s head back toward where I live. The neighborhood I live in is pretty old and mainly residential (but with commercial areas a block or two away to both the north and the south). As such, there are lots of cool old apartments around for gawking at.
We also have many fine alleys.
This next one’s a good one. Called the El Cordova or the Rose Towers, it was designed by George Riddle, the same architect who designed the building I live in.
Old George was a big fan of Spanish-style buildings with courtyards. This photo of my building illustrates how similar it is to the Rose Towers, below.
He designed two or three other buildings on my street as well, including the Casa Nido across the street.
Even the boring public-service buildings in this neighborhood have personality. Behold the fire station (there’s an even cooler fire station in nearby Belmont Shore … I’ll take a picture of that one of these days too).
It usually has a life-size fake sheep out front (sometimes wearing a serape), but our theory is that they take it inside on weekends.
And our tiny, tiny library …
… with its extremely excellent signage.
And that, my friends, is why I love Long Beach. Sure, it’s got its scummy areas. Sure, I’ve been burgled here (not in my current apartment), and I’ve been attempted-robberied too. But it’s such a cool city, and the area that I live in has such a unique personality, that I’d have to think long and hard about moving anywhere else.