The Long Journey to San Pedro

By Melinda Roney

Bascule Bridge

Some do not remember the Pontoon Bridge on Ocean Blvd that allowed immediate access over the Cerritos Channel to Terminal Island. Immediate is much too strong of a word. The bridge was 2 wooden structures that floated on the water and would slide back to provide an opening for the smallest sailboat or the largest ship. Many hours of my childhood were spent waiting for the bridge to open to traffic. I can only imagine the frustration of workers or Naval personnel that tried to cross over. The bridge was originally built after World War II as a 6-month structure to provide better access to the Naval Shipyards and the Navy Base. It lasted for 24 years and was replaced by the Gerald Desmond Bridge in 1968. Those with less patience or a job to get to would drive to the Henry Ford Bridge (also known as the Badger Ave. Bridge) in Wilmington. It was built in 1948. It was a drawbridge (Bascule Type Bridge) and was subject to closure to allow large ships to pass. At least you didn’t have to wait for the sailboats. The Commodore Schuyler Heim Bridge was an elevator bridge built next to it in 1963. Today, the Ford Bridge is used for trains. After we made it across the drawbridge we then had to take the Ferry Boat from Terminal Island to San Pedro. The Vincent Thomas Bridge, a suspension bridge, was built in 1963 and replaced the ferry. I have fond childhood memories of the “Long Journey” to San Pedro and I think of them today as we “zip” over the waters to the other side.

Heights History Includes Colorful Controversy

By Maureen Neeley, MLIS

Belmont Heights might be considered a study in dichotomy. On the one hand it has a history of rabble-rousing and being slightly contrarian. On the other, it was a leader in setting a standard for quality and elegance in regards to the homes and buildings constructed in the area. It is easy to speculate that it is just this melding of philosophies that has created the substantial and desirable community we have today.

More than 95 years ago, when the Long Beach city limits stopped at Carroll Park, residents of Belmont Heights voted to incorporate as a separate town. One obvious benefit was to keep its lucrative tax base from the clutches of Los Angeles County. A little-known side benefit was the ability to operate a baseball and amusement park with alcohol sales, while alcohol was not allowed in the city limits of Long Beach.

History indicates the legacy of Belmont Heights was to be the rebellious offspring of Long Beach.

The early 20th century was a time of great growth for Belmont Heights, which at the time included Mira Mar to the west and Zaferia to the north, around Anaheim Street and Obispo Avenue. Farms and ranches were giving way to housing.

By Stanley Poe


In 1886 John Bixby subdivided a portion of his land just east of Alamitos Avenue into twenty blocks along Ocean Park Avenue, now Ocean Blvd., and called it Alamitos Beach. He gave the streets lyrical Spanish names. Orange Avenue was first called Descanso, Cherry Avenue was originally Independencia. Kalamazoo became Kennebec, Modjeska is now Molino and Naranjo was renamed Temple. The area was annexed to Long Beach in 1905. The establishment of Bluff Park as a residential
community predated the streetcars from Long Beach. Originally, Broadway was called Railroad because the train tracks went down the center of the street. A streetcar line called the Naples Line was installed on Ocean in order to transport people to the newly developed Alamitos Bay communities of Naples and the Peninsula in 1903. It was a single track, and so many people used it that another track was installed in August of 1910 on First Street in order to get people back to Long Beach. That line existed for only one year. It was removed on September 28, 1911. During a Bluff Park house tour some time ago, an erroneous statement by docents indicated it was a permanent and long-lived line. The streets were wide because that was the accepted pattern of residential development in affluent areas all over the country. The Bluff Park

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 from Long Beach died, two boys who went swimming at Brighton Beach on Terminal Island and a mother and son from Belmont Heights who were sailing and lashed themselves to the mast before the boat foundered.