Long Beach, located on the Pacific Coast, is one of the most populous cities in Southern California. It is located about 20 miles south of downtown Los Angeles, near the border of Orange County. The surrounding cities and communities are Wilmington, Carson, Gardena, Compton, Paramount, Lakewood, Cerritos, Cypress, and Seal Beach. The city of Signal Hill is located in the center of Long Beach and is completely encircled by it. The city of Long Beach has many different, interesting, and unique neighborhoods- about 87 all together, depending on your source. Long Beach traces its name to the 1880’s when land there was purchased by the “Long Beach Land and Water Company”, and the city was incorporated in 1897. Other areas of Long Beach were also developed during the 1800’s, such as the neighborhoods of Belmont Heights, Belmont Shores, Naples, and Alamitos. During the early 1900’s development began on the neighborhoods of Bixby Knolls, California Heights, North Long Beach, and parts of the City of Signal Hill.
The discovery of oil during the 1920’s and 1930’s gave birth to a large petrochemical industry in Long Beach and Signal Hill for several decades. From 1929 until 1960 Model A cars were built at the Ford Motor Company factory which was named “Long Beach Assembly”. Douglas Aircraft opened a large manufacturing facility in 1941 where they produced, among other aircraft, the famed B-17 Flying Fortress bombers used during WWII. Douglas Aircraft merged with McDonnell Aircraft in 1967 forming McDonnell Douglas Aircraft Company, but then in 1997 it was merged with Boeing which ended its 75 year history. The last aircraft being built at the Long Beach factory were C-17 Globemasters, until late 2015 when production was finally ended. Large amounts of international trade move through the Port of Long Beach, and the nearby Port of Los Angeles to the north, and there was once also a large Navy base. Trade valued at over $140 billion moves through the Port of Long Beach every year making is the 2nd busiest seaport in the country. There are several large medical centers in Long Beach which employ nearly 9,000 people. Long Beach is home to the RMS Queen Mary, an Art Deco ocean liner built in 1936, that since 1967 has been permanently docked and serves as a museum, events venue, and hotel. For 16 years after it was first commissioned, it was the fastest ocean liner in the world.
The Aquarium of the Pacific, which opened in 1998, features a collection of more than 12,500 animals from over 550 different species, and attracts some 13 million visitors every year. Long Beach maintains 92 parks around the city, which cover about 3,100 acres. The 815 acre El Dorado Regional Park features fishing lakes, an archery range, youth campground, bike trails, and picnic areas. The Long Beach Parks Department also operates four public swimming pools, and four launch ramps for boaters to access the Pacific Ocean.
There are many historic buildings throughout Long Beach and houses dating to the late 1880’s in some of the oldest areas. The city’s culture supports a large collection of art galleries and museums- the Long Beach Museum of Art, the Museum of Latin American Art, The Pacific Island Ethnic Art Museum (PieAM), and various street art projects throughout the city. A mural painted by Robert Wyland on the exterior of the Long Beach Sports Arena is considered to be the largest mural in the world. The University Art Museum on the Long Beach State campus has a national reputation for its high-quality and innovative programs, and the university itself is home to one of the largest publicly funded art schools in the nation. Shops and galleries in downtown Long Beach hold openings and arts exhibits during the monthly Artwalk. There are too many other cultural events found in Long Beach to list here, including music, theater, and sporting venues and events.
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