These Are The Buildings In My Neighborhood

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?

See ’em?

Gargoyles! Woo!

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”?

Or “Dexter”?

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.

Published in: on February 5, 2011 at 8:13 pm  Comments (9)  
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My Weekend Plans

1. Make it be warmer outside. True, it’s warming up a little bit, and true, it rarely gets what I’d call “cold” here. However, according to the cat, it is cold, especially in the evenings. So cold that it is apparently time once again for her to wheedle her little cat self onto or inside of my sleeping bag at every available opportunity.

I was sitting on the couch last night, knitting, as usual. I had the sleeping bag over my lap (I use it instead of a blanket sometimes because it has a temperature rating of 15 degrees F and is therefore super warm) with the closed-up bottom part on the floor. I felt some activity and heard some rustling down there …

so I got up and investigated.

OK, CAT. WE GET THE POINT. IT IS CHILLY. You’d think for a cat from Colorado she’d be a little hardier than this. But, having lived here for almost 7 years, she is apparently a thin-blooded Californian weenie now. (I kind of am too. And the Mister totally is–he bumbles around in shorts and a t-shirt and then has the nerve to complain that he’s cold–but he was born and raised here, so he has an excuse.)

2. Cook food. We’re having Thanksgiving dinner again. This will be our third Thanksgiving dinner in as many months. I can’t wait.

3. Lock myself in the bathroom and emerge several hours later with raw, bleedy, swollen eyelids.

My Urban Decay 24/7 set arrived in the mail today. I’m not ashamed to say that I opened it immediately, at work, and commenced drawing on myself. What? Casual Friday! Don’t judge me!

Anyway, having this in my possession makes me feel like

So I plan to spend a lot of time playing with it this weekend.

Yes, folks, those are my plans. That’s the kind of glamorous, sexy, fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants existence we live here at Principessa Headquarters. Oh! And don’t let me forget the grocery shopping that will also happen this weekend! Try to keep your jealousy down to a simmer.

Published in: on January 7, 2011 at 5:02 pm  Comments (7)  
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That Warm California Sun


We have a pond out front that I’m fairly sure wasn’t there when we moved in.

And a river flowing merrily down the sidewalk.

But at least my car is cleaner now.

Yep … days like this, it’s nice to be on the inside looking out.

Published in: on December 22, 2010 at 3:04 pm  Comments (4)  
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Dork In Boots

Happily, it stopped raining today for exactly the amount of time it took for me to drive home from work and then have Mister Principessa take a few pictures of my outfit.

Admittedly, the outfit isn’t all that spectacular. Dress you’ve seen before, scarf you’ve seen before, generic Old Navy t-shirt, uninspired Gap cardigan. What I really wanted to show you is these:

They’re the Carrie riding boots from Torrid. They were an early Christmas present from my mom, and they arrived just in time for me to wear them through one of the craziest, longest-lingering rainstorms southern California has seen in years. They’re warm and comfy, and I like them a lot. The zipper and buckle give them just a bit of an edge, but not enough to make them inappropriate for work–at least not for my fairly casual office.

(A side note on fit, in case you’re looking at buying these: I wear a size 8 1/2 shoe, so I waffled for a while between the size 8 and the size 9. My calves are somewhere between 17 and 18 inches, and the Torrid website says that these boots, at a size 9, should fit a 17.8″ calf. So I opted for the 9. They’re slightly big on me, both in the foot and in the leg, which leaves just enough room for me to slap a pair of thick handknit socks under them.)

So yeah, it’s raining like mad in southern CA at the moment. The first crazy storm has moved out, and the second one (which might bring thunderstorms and–joy of joys–hail) is in the process of moving in. The tree out front dripped on me as I stood posing for photos.

Also, I don’t know what’s going on here, but it looks funny.

Published in: on December 21, 2010 at 3:59 pm  Comments (8)  
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It Was So Cold Last Night …


So cold that the cat swallowed her tiny cat pride and took refuge in my sleeping bag.

Insert your own “letting the cat out of the bag” joke here.

Published in: on November 11, 2010 at 5:04 pm  Comments (9)  
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Outfit Of The Yesterday

New And Improved! Now With More Ridiculous Camera-Whoring!

You will notice that I wear a lot of skirts. I wear them pretty much exclusively, and it’s another case of “I wear X because it fits my weird body better than Y.” I have very hourglassy proportions: about a 12-inch difference between my boobs and waist, and then about a 15-inch difference (!!!) between my waist and hips. Also, I am EXTREMELY short-waisted. My body is all, “BOOBS BOOBS BOOBS BOOBS BOOBS waist HIPS HIPS HIPS HIPS HIPS HIPS GIANT ASS!!!” I’m sure those of you in a similar predicament can see where I’m going with this: it’s pretty much impossible to find pants that fit. So, skirts it is! Good thing I like them.

This particular one is from Target. I’ve had it for years, and it’s held up amazingly well considering that it cost like $30. T-shirt and tank top are from Old Navy (surprised?), necklace is from Etsy. And of course, I’m wearing my Born birthday shoes.


And just so this isn’t all silly pictures of me, here is the tree in front of my building. It’s looking particularly stunning lately, I think. Click to embiggen.

And here’s a look at the building itself. It is awesome.

And look! Studio for rent! Anybody in SoCal need a new place to live?

Published in: on November 5, 2010 at 7:50 am  Comments (9)  
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