|Development of Bluff Park||| Print ||
The Development of Bluff Park
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
The district, which is bounded on the west by Junipero Avenue and on the east by Loma, has a southern boundary, the extensive Bluff Park, which was donated to the city in 1919 by the Bixby family. Second Street comprises the northern boundary. Within this enclave, drawn by the excellent climate and sea breezes, the well-todo from Pasadena and Los Angeles built impressive homes. The wealthiest buyers worked in the medical, financial, and oil industries. The burgeoning movie industry, which was centered at 6th Street and Alamitos Avenue in 1913 at the Balboa Studios, attracted many luminaries of the silent films including Theda Bara and Fatty Arbuckle. The mansion on Ocean Blvd. now called Weathering Heights is where Clark Gable and Carole Lombard began their long affair. Herbert Horkheimer, the president of Balboa Studios, had a large home on Ocean and entertained lavishly. His guests included all of the silent picture actors, and the parties were scandalous. The first child actress, Baby Marie Osborne, who pre-dated Shirley Temple by twenty years, starred in many films shot in the area, as the weather and sumptuous homes provided the perfect settings.
There are no businesses, churches, or public buildings in the district. The variety of architectural styles runs the gamut of Victorian, Colonial Revival, Old English, Craftsman and Spanish Colonial Revival styles. They each reflect the period of principal development which was from 1903 to 1949. The homes became more ornate after 1920. After the discovery of oil in Signal Hill in 1921 some of the homes resembled castles and Mediterranean villas. The State Historic Resources Inventory has identified sixty-five houses as highly significant examples of their styles in this area. One hundred and nine homes contribute to the historic architectural character of the district. The meticulous landscaping of almost every home creates a continuous visual ambiance which bespeaks of a gracious bygone era.
To ensure the future desirability of the community,the residents requested a historic district to be created. Since 1990 guidelines have existed to ensure that construction preserves and enhances the architectural continuity. These guidelines serve as an aid to property owners who may be formulating plans for new construction, rehabilitation, or alteration of existing structures, and for site development. They provide an excellent protection for property owners who can count on the fact that the fabric of the neighborhood can never be destroyed by over-development, as has been the case in so many of the more desirable historic areas of Southern California.