By Stan Poe
New research by Stan Poe has uncovered some very interesting information about the development of the Alamitos Bay peninsula. Development of the peninsula was the precursor to the settlement of Naples.
The first "interest" meeting of the principal players took place on January 13, 1903. J. W. Hellman hosted a party at the Del Mar Hotel which was the finest in town prior to the construction of the Virginia Hotel. The party included Henry Huntington, A. Borel, Chas. de Guigne, William Kerckhoff, Mr. Randolph,the general manager of the Pacific Electric Co.,Chief Engineer Pillsbury, and Jotham and George Bixby. They arrived by Pacific Electic trolley and took the tally-ho to tour Alamitos Bay. They returned to Del Mar, lunched and left.
On September 28, 1903 Peninsula Avenue (now Ocean Blvd.) was vacated by the Board of Supervisors to provide a railroad right-of-way. In May of 1904 the Alamitos Bay tract was sold by George Bixby and W.W. Lowe to George Hart, the pre-eminent attorney at the time in Long Beach, who represented a "syndicate of prominent citizens of Los Angeles whose names cannot as yet be made public." The purchase included one and three-quarters miles of frontage at Alamitos Bay including the entire spit of land now known as the "peninsula" for $150,000. According to the Evening Tribune of 1904, "The Alamitos Bay Company made a pretty
good deal of the thing as it had only cost them $35,000 a short time since." The Pacific Electric Company, a heavy holder, ran the double track down the peninsula with the intent of continuing to Newport Beach. The name of the area was changed to Vista Del Mar, meaning view of the sea, and it was originally subdivided into 800 lots.
This information seemed to be a fairly academic example of property development until I found that Henry Huntington had originally planned to create a "tent city" down the entire length of the peninsula! Tent cities were established at the Hotel Del Coronado for some time covering the Silver Strand to the south of the hotel. The city included a boat house, dance hall, bath house, and other amenities and marvelous tents with wooden floors and two foot high walls with striped canvas. They were fully furnished with the latest Victorian decor, mirrors, oriental rugs, and electric light bulbs. This notion might account for the construction of the pavilion at 62nd Place on the peninsula, as well as the hotel on the Bay side and the "duck club" as a private club for the investors.
"Tent City" Planned For Alamitos Bay Pennisula
The "Tent City" of the Hotel de Coronado in San Diego CA, circa 1915. Henry Huntington planned to use this as a model for his development on the Long Beach peninsula.
"Villa Carita Houseboat in Alamitos Bay
This picturesque houseboat was the sole survivor of the "Villa Carita" project. Originally a streetcar which had become obsolete before 1904 and had been used as a vacation cottage on Terminal Island, it had been placed on a barge and floated on Alamitos Bay. It was used by the famed artist Fran Soldini, A UCLA graduate who began painting in 1938. Primarily a water colorist, who exhibited in museums, colleges, and galleries through the United States. A peninsula resident, she had the houseboat set atop pilings in 1950 and ;taught painting in her "houseboat Atelier" for more than a decade. It was located at 39 56th Place. This photo of the houseboat was taken around 1935 with the Naples Hotel apparent in the background.