Navy / Long Beach Airport

Adrian Wilson and Paul R. Williams Administration Building, Roosevelt naval Base, 1941–42. Photo by Louise Ivers
By Peter Devereaux

Every spring for the past ten years sizable grants have been donated to various organizations in Long Beach for historic preservation projects- all told over $2,000,000. Where does the money come from and why is it given to preservation? The Long Beach Navy Memorial Heritage Association – the “Navy Trust” – was established when the Port of Long Beach was persuaded to compensate the people of Long Beach for the loss of the United States Naval Station, originally called Roosevelt Base.

Those who still remember that campus on Terminal Island, designed by Adrian Wilson and the African American “architect to the stars,” Paul Williams, know what an outstandingly beautiful place it was. It was anchored at one end by the Administration Building with its striking tower and at the other end by the recreation complex. Along the flanks were such facilities as the swimming pool, the bowling alley, the navy legal building and the fleet landing, all fine examples of the International Style of architecture. At the far west end was the Allen Center Officers Club, which hosted many family events, weddings, and the like. Trees were abundant, principally towering olives at one end and ficus at the other. The latter were the nesting place for the largest colony of black-crowned night herons in Southern California. The fleet landing, where many sailors said goodbye to their loved ones, never to return, reminded the community of values beyond grounds and buildings.

By Stanley Poe

Brighton Beach was a very popular area at the turn of the century. It was established as a seaside resort on the western end of what was known as “Rattlesnake Island,” now Terminal Island. In the 1870s the U. S. Corps of Engineers constructed jetties, dredged the channel between the island and San Pedro, and secured dockside landing facilities. A small community was established comprised of houses on stilts and small cottages. Apparently the rattlesnakes were convinced to relocate. 

By the turn of the century, tourists flocked to the area. Hotels, bathhouses, taverns and an observatory were constructed on the southwestern side of the island. An electrically illuminated boardwalk was built and proved to be a real draw for tourists. Many homes were built along the strand, including some rather large two story “cottages.” There were enough permanent residents to build a two story Victorian style school. However, the resort lifestyle was short lived. The city developed and private storage companies expanded the harbor. The long sandy beaches were swallowed up, and guest quarters became rooms for new

The Curious Development of Belmont Shore

Belmont Shore from approximately 1930. The empty commercial lots are evident along Second Street. At the top left is the original Lowell Elementary School with a prominent pre-earthquake control tower. Central in the photograph is the storied Tepee restaurant (conical building on the north side of Second Street). It was the hangout for Wilson High School students.
By Stanley Poe

Belmont Shore is a unique community in Southern California. Its major development began in 1920, although the area had been a part of the Naples tract that was purchased in 1903 by Henry Huntington. Its official designation was West Naples and included a very interesting feature in the form of a large natural canal which paralleled Ocean Boulevard on the north side of the current alley. It extended from Alamitos Bay on the east to the land rise near Termino Avenue. It was created by the formation of a sand bar much like that of the Peninsula. Huntington’s vision included dredging a similar canal to the north and returning to Alamitos Bay with waterfront lots lining it. Two large circular plazas were planned between the canals as well. 

Unfortunately that plan never came to fruition. Due to the extensive cost overruns and unforeseen problems associated with the development of the

By Stan Poe 

June 1st marked the official opening of "hurricane season" in the United States. In "honor" of the occasion, NBC news decided to air a segment on the only hurricane known to have hit the West Coast. Someone referred Pablo Pereira to me and the night before our filming found me pouring over copies of the Long Beach Independent and the Bel-na-mos newspapers for first hand coverage of the event. It actually occurred on September 25th, 1939. The preceding week was unseasonably hot. In the triple digits, it was the hottest period since 1877. The heat wave resulted in four deaths in the city and school being dismissed at noon that Friday. The weather report predicted "occasional cloudiness, but no showers" for that weekend.

The hurricane arrived in full force on Sunday, September 25th following a drenching rain. Quite a few boats had actually gone out in the morning from Newport Harbor and San Pedro. The entire Southern California coast was affected from San Diego north to San Pedro. The official death toll was thirty-nine, but only four