News stories from the local press 1918 In 1918 America was at war and the entire country was doing what they could to help the war effort.  But some wondered if liberties were being threatened.   AMERICAN PROTECTIVE LEAGUE   Vigilantes or patriots?  Some weren’t sure if the American Protective League (APL), a private organization that worked with federal law enforcement agencies in support of the anti German movement during World War I, was a good thing or a bad thing.  Formed by a wealthy Chicago businessman, A.M. Briggs, it had 250,000 dues-paying members in 600 cities throughout the United States.  It wasn’t just Germans the group went after—draft dodgers, anarchist, pacifists and labor unions were also targeted as being “un-American.”  It was a genuine secret society replete with oath and rituals and it was sanctioned by the U.S. Justice Department.  Membership gave every associate the authority to be a national policeman.  Usually the fist place put under surveillance was the local school.  The old (Federal) Bureau of Investigation and the War Department’s Intelligence Division requested the APL report on “seditious and disloyal” conversation. Long Beach was quite active in the movement. On May 2, 1918, A. Ferdinand Louis Teriller, a pastry chef, was arrested by members of the APL and Long Beach police. He had been accused of making seditious and unpatriotic utterances.   Found on his possession were documents in Spanish and a letter bearing the stamp of a German consul.  A bottle containing enough cyanide to kill 10 or 15 people was found in his room. The maximum sentence for “un-American” statements was a fine of $200 and 90 days in County jail, however APL members in Long Beach didn’t think this was […]

What to do with a dead whale

On December 27, 2017, a juvenile fin whale was found dead near Pier T in Long Beach.  There was debate as to how to get rid of the carcass, but ways could be found by looking back into Long Beach’s past. Would you pay to see a dead whale?  Folks back in 1911 would, paying 25 cents ($6.50 in today’s money) for that honor.  Back then seeing a whale, even a dead one, was quite a novelty. As many as 2500 would flock to Long Beach to catch a glimpse of one of the leviathans captured by Captain John D. Loop, who vowed to resurrect the whaling industry in Southern California.  When he harpooned a whale he would place them on a big barge and tow them to the Pine Avenue Pier for exhibition.  To give visitors a good view, Captain Loop connected a rubber tube, connected with the pump of his ship, to the lungs of the whale, which allowed the body to float on the surface.              The public had to come quickly to view these wonders of the sea, because they would only be there for a limited time.  There was the problem of the stench, you see.  But you needn’t worry too much, for Captain Loop would be sure to take you to the side the wind was blowing from, so the odor would be hardly noticeable.  Not so pleasant, however, for those living downwind from the rotting carcass.  A week at the most was all locals could stand before city officials would order the remains towed out to sea or cut up for fertilizer.  In making fertilizer, Loop cut the leviathan into pieces and then cooked it.  The flesh was […]

1917 – Long Beach and WWI

News stories from the local press 1917     LONG BEACH AND WORLD WAR I   On April 2, 1917, President Wilson announced what many believed was inevitable—war between Germany and the United States.  The war in Europe had been raging since July 1914, but it was Germany’s policy of unrestricted submarine warfare and an attempt by Germany to get Mexico to join the war in return for the territories of Texas, New Mexico and Arizona, that prompted Woodrow Wilson’s action.  At a patriotic rally held in the Long Beach Municipal Auditorium on April 4, 1917, the entire German population of Long Beach expressed full accord with the United States and President Wilson.  Arthur Falkenhayn, who had served in the German army in his youth and now was a florist, presented a little red white and blue bouquet to all in attendance. On April 6th war was officially declared by the United States and Washington was quick to act to protect itself from alien enemies.  On April 16th, the Long Beach Chief of Police received instructions from the capitol advising it was unlawful for aliens to have any firearms, weapons or implements of war in their possession.  They were also prohibited from access to any kind of signaling device or any form of cipher code.  Also, five hundred forty-one Long Beach men immediately joined the American Protective League which rounded up pro-Germans and draft evaders.  According to the Daily Telegram of December 20, 1918, Long Beach had the best per capita record of catching and convicting pro-Germans than any other city in the west.   Sabotage On April 3, 1917, a telegram was sent to Long Beach from Sacramento telling of a rumored plot to blow up the […]


News stories from the local press 1916 WOODROW WILSON WINS ELECTION BECAUSE OF LONG BEACH            The United States presidential election of 1916 had incumbent President Woodrow Wilson, the Democratic candidate, pitted against Supreme Court Justice Charles Evans Hughes, representing the Republican party.  After a hard-fought contest, Wilson defeated Hughes by nearly 600,000 votes in the popular vote and secured a narrow majority in the Electoral College by winning several swing states with razor-thin margins.  One of those states was California, and many believe the reason the California electoral vote went for Wilson was because of Long Beach.           In November 1916, Long Beach became the pivotal point in keeping President Woodrow Wilson in office, all because of a misunderstanding. Events began on a hot day in August 1916.  Governor Hiram Johnson of California, running for the U.S. Senate on the Republican ticket, and Charles Evans Hughes, GOP candidate for president, had both checked into the Hotel Virginia. Neither was purportedly aware of the other’s presence.  Hughes checked out a short time later and, to his surprise and only after he had arrived in Los Angeles, learned of Johnson’s presence at the Virginia.  Johnson and his followers remained in their quarters until after Hughes had left and considered that Hughes had snubbed them when they learned of his leaving.      Proud Californians, piqued because they considered their favorite son had been purposely ignored, went to the polls en masse.  And the rock-ribbed Republican state of California amazingly voted for Woodrow Wilson, Democrat.      Voting over the nation was close, and it was California that defeated Hughes and re-elected Wilson.  Long Beach, solidly Republican, also voted Democrat allowing Wilson to win California’s electoral vote by a slim 3,000 ballots. […]

From Farms To Subdivisions

RAILROADS Real estate development in Long Beach started when a sandy, curly haired Englishman with a high broad forehead and blue eyes, William Erwin Willmore, conceived of the idea of founding a colony.  In 1880 Willmore’s plan for his American Colony began to take shape when he met with Jotham Bixby to discuss the subdivision of the Rancho Los Cerritos. Willmore hired Charles Healey to prepare a map of the project which Willmore called the American Colony. Though he originally hoped to purchase 10,000 acres, Willmore scaled down his dream upon the recommendations of Healey to 4,000 acres, 350 of which would form his townsite of Willmore City.  Judge Robert M. Widney, a Los Angeles attorney, was the money man behind William Willmore in his early endeavors. It was Widney who built the infamous “Get Out and Push” railway, the first transportation link connecting Willmore City with the outside world.   A Faithful dray horse pulled the railcar along uneven terrain, often forcing passengers to “get out and push” to keep the railcar moving. Willmore City was not as popular as its promoters had hoped.  In the fall of 1882 there were nine dwellings either completed or under construction.  Only about a half-dozen families remained in the town site during the winter.   Mail and produce had to be brought from Wilmington by Widney’s railroad.  The horse cars made two trips each day to the rail juncture in Wilmington, but many times they were empty on both trips.  During the winter improvements were made to the railway.  The route was straightened, the number of ties doubled, the pine rails overlaid with strip iron, and two new passenger cars built. Despite all its advantages Willmore City and […]

Willmore City and American Colony subdivisions

Willmore City District  William Willmore founded Willmore City which later became Long Beach Today the Willmore District of Long Beach extends from the Los Angeles River to Pacific Avenue, and from 4th Street to Anaheim Street.  It encompasses parts of the original town of Willmore City, organized by city founder William Willmore.  Willmore had started his American Colony in 1882 when he purchased 4000 acres of the Cerritos Rancho.  Since every colony needed to have a townsite where people could go to shop and socialize, Willmore set aside 350 acres for his city. The town site was on a mesa about twenty feet above the beach, encompassing an area from the ocean to 10th street and from the river to Alamitos Avenue.  American Avenue, 124 feet wide, extended through the town in a north-south direction.  Lots on this avenue were 250 feet deep, and all buildings were required to be 100 feet back from the street, allowing ample space for lawns and gardens.  It was a double avenue, with shade trees on both sides as well as down the center.  The other north-south streets were 80 feet wide, and the lots 150 feet in depth. A space 175 feet wide was reserved along the bluff for a double driveway, bridle path and promenade.  Houses along the bluff were required to be built at least thirty feet from the street.  All of the streets were lined with shade trees, and blocks reserved for parks, churches, schools, and a public library.   Description of Willmore City An auction was held October 31, 1882, to sell land in Willmore’s new city.  An article from the Los Angeles Times of October 28, 1882 gives a shining picture of “Willmore, […]

Alamitos Subdivisions

Alamitos Townsite History There was a tremendous land boom in Southern California when the new transcontinental Santa Fe railroad was completed in 1885.  A price war developed between the Santa Fe and the older Southern Pacific with tickets falling from $52.50 in 1883 to $4 in 1886. Thousands moved to the Southland, many of them to Willmore City (which would become Long Beach). Captain Charles T. Healey, who surveyed the original Willmore City townsite in 1882, also laid out the new Alamitos townsite (also referred to as Alamitos Beach townsite) in 1886.  The dividing line between Rancho Los Cerritos and Rancho Alamitos was present day Alamitos Boulevard, and on the other side of the boundary with Long Beach John Bixby and his associates began selling land.  Their townsite was 20 blocks in length, from west to east.  From Ocean Avenue, it extended two blocks toward the north, and 39 blocks only four lots wide, were laid out on the south side of the avenue.  Between these little blocks the streets were designated as “places.”  Spanish names were given to the cross streets, in alphabetical order, though George Bixby, son of Jotham Bixby, named some of the new east and west streets after several of his college friends.  Water for Alamitos Beach came from a lake and reservoir in what is now Recreation Park.  Earlier, John W. Bixby had built a dam across the canyon north of Seventh Street enlarging the lake and making it better as a place for watering large flocks of sheep. A brick pump house at the edge of the lake pumped the water into the new town.  In his March 28, 1939, Did You Know That? column Walter Case told of […]

Alamitos Peninsula, Naples and Alamitos Heights Subdivisions

Alamitos Bay Peninsula The idea of a harbor at Alamitos Bay appealed to many investors in the land boom days of the 1880s.  Southern California was in the middle of tremendous real estate development, this, along with plans to bring in a railroad, stirred hope that a major harbor could be developed at Alamitos Bay. The Alamitos Land Company planned to give the Los Angeles and Ocean Railroad, competitors to the South Pacific, a right of way through land around Signal Hill.  Alamitos Bay would be the terminus of the new railroad and the bay developed into a major harbor.  By the end of January 1888 the Los Angeles and Ocean Railroad acquired the last link of land from Los Angeles.  The proposed rail line was to enter the Alamitos Company’s land just north of present day Pacific Coast Highway and just east of Termino and proceed in a southeasterly direction to Alamitos Bay, crossing Anaheim Street at Ximeno.  It would continue toward the ocean at a point east of Nieto.  Several grades were actually established along the route and can still be traced today in the vicinity of Recreation Park. Rumors of great things to come continued. One indicated that six railroads, three of them transcontinental, planned to make Alamitos Bay their terminus. Bathhouse at Alamitos Bay, c1903. On February 5, 1888, on the heels of all these rumors, the Alamitos Land Company began selling 200 lots at Alamitos Bay.  A business lot sold for $300, and prospective buyers were told the same lot was expected to be worth $1000 to $3000 in one year.  In March 1888, the first ship put into Alamitos Bay to test the depth of water; in April plans […]

The City of Belmont Heights

The area we now call “Belmont Heights” started as the Mira Mar tract in 1901 by real estate agents Frank Shaw and H. S. Gundry.  Promoters advertised the tract as being on a high bluff overlooking the ocean just north of Devil’s Gate and one and one-half miles east of Long Beach. Before the arrival of the Pacific Electric you couldn’t have given the land away. Why? It was too far from Pine Avenue. But by 1905, with the electric rail line, and service every half hour, you could be in downtown Long Beach in eight minutes. Sales in Mira Mar really took off. In January 1905, 120 lots (none smaller than 50 feet) were placed on the market with prices ranging from $500 to $1250 per lot. No shacks were allowed and homes had to be priced from at least $1000. By May 1905, some of the lots had been downsized which allowed for 383 lots. In 1906 another tract was set up adjacent to “Mira Mar;” it was called “Belmont Heights.” Frank Strong of the F. W. Sterns real estate company was in charge of sales, but employed Mira Mar’s developer Frank Shaw as an agent.  Prices had risen and the minimum price for a bluff lot was $675, one-third in cash and the balance within one or two years. The name “Belmont Heights” would stick and by 1908 the entire area was known as Belmont Heights. With the arrival of  Long Beach’s first mass transit system the Pacific Electric Red Car, real estate sales skyrocketed. Farms turned into subdivisions and by 1908 the new residents were clamoring for city services. They had two choices: either incorporate and form their own city or […]

The “Willows” and Wrigley District

The Willows Early development in the Willows/Wrigley area The Wrigley District of today is part of what was once known as “Willows.”  In 1887, on the flat west of the American Colony (Long Beach was the city portion of the American Colony), was an area known by three names:  The Willows, the Wilmington Colony Tract, and Lucerne.   All three names were given the area which was situated 18 miles south of Los Angeles, 2  1/2 miles northwest of downtown Long Beach and 4 miles north of Wilmington.  The settlement which became known as Lucerne in the late 1890s started as the Wilmington Colony Tract.  Then, when a school district was formed the name of the district was designated “Cerritos.”  This was exceedingly confusing since there was already a settlement known as Cerritos three miles northwest. The area was much different than today.  There was no river next to the 710 Freeway, or 710 Freeway.  In later years Pico Avenue and Julia Street became the course of the river and the 710 Freeway.  In these earlier times the river entered the marshy area above San Pedro Bay where the 103 Freeway is today, around Anaheim Street. There was also the Cerritos Slough which ran from Anaheim Street to what would be known as Channel Number 3 of the Long Beach harbor area. Street names changed, Humphries becoming DeForest Avenue, Perris Avenue becoming Santa Fe,  State Street changing its name to Pacific Coast Highway.  There were 4 major roads connecting the colony, State Street which ended at the river near present day San Gabriel Boulevard, Hill Street and Willow Street which also ended at the river, and Anaheim Road which connected the area to Wilmington. Colonization began […]