Ocean Blvd. (Alamitos to Magnolia.).
The grassy area with the scenic ocean view along the south side of Ocean Blvd. between Alamitos and Magnolia is known as Victory Park. Victory Park was named in honor of World War I veterans in 1919
The park originated as Bluff Park No. 1, extending from Golden Avenue east to Alamitos Avenue and is a number of small land strips deeded to the City in 1889 by the Long Beach Land and Water Company, in settlement of a suit by the City against the Company. The land was to be used for the purpose of "ornamentation and recreation." The lawsuit resulted from the original subdivision of Willmore City, which had dedicated the area between Ocean Boulevard and the high tide line as a public park. However, when Rancho Los Cerritos reclaimed Willmore City for non-payment and resold the area to the Long Beach Land and Water Company, the new owners disputed the park dedication. The dispute was settled by a compromise whereby the area on top of the bluff would be a dedicated public park, while the bluff face, and the area between the bluff and the high tide line would belong to the Company.More...
There were two exceptions. First, two bluff top hotel sites were also to belong to the Company. Second, streets were dedicated from Ocean Boulevard to the high tide line at Linden Avenue, Pine Avenue and Magnolia Avenue. Periodic lawsuits over the issue continued until 1916. The park's development occurred on a block-by-block basis and consisted primarily of lawn, with a few trees, to preserve the views to the ocean. The park was renamed Victory Park in 1919 in honor of the victory in World War I.
In 1920 the area between Hart Court and Alamitos was dedicated as Victory Park to memorialize those who had perished in World War I. It was also felt that the park was a form of tribute to the citizens of Long Beach for their overwhelming support of Liberty loan campaigns and other war fund drives. During the building boom of the 1920's fueled by the oil discovery on Signal Hill and in the Alamitos Bay area, substantial buildings were built between Victory Park and the high tide line. Many of the developers of the buildings wanted access to their buildings from Ocean Boulevard. The City granted such access in many cases in exchange for the developers landscaping the park and establishing roadways to the high tide line then defined by Seaside Way. This created a pattern of circular driveways through the park, of inconsistent landscaping, and additional interruptions in the park for roadways. Renowned landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted Jr. who designed NYC's Central Park designed the area in 1923.
In 1964, the City widened Ocean Boulevard into the park, further reducing its width varying by 10-20 feet. At that time, the City also covered over the entrance to the tunnel and arcade that had existed from the northeast corner of Ocean Boulevard and Pine Avenue, through the Jergins Trust Building basement to Seaside Way. The former entrance is now located in the parking lane under Ocean Boulevard.
In 1980, the City Council and the California Coastal Commission certified the Local Coastal Program (LCP). With design guidelines adopted in 1989, the LCP seeks to reestablish Victory Park as a unified park throughout downtown Long Beach. The LCP requires all new development and conversions of apartments to condominiums to rebuild Victory Park according to those design guidelines, and to dedicate additional depth to the park to create a minimum depth of 80 feet from the Ocean Boulevard curb. Six blocks have been partially or completely redeveloped since this requirement was established. The design guidelines seek to create a unified look with similar trees and shrubs for a passive public park with park benches and with at least two thirds of the park covered with turf. (Also see Santa Cruz Park and Auditorium Park).
A rededication celebration was held on May 5, 2005 to celebrate the unique blend of open space and park amenities that incorporates public art elements, greenery, and areas for the public to enjoy. This new oasis in the city is the result of the collaboration of the Genesis Development, EDI Architecture, the Long Beach arts community, and the City's Parks, Recreation and Marine, and Planning staff.
In the 1970s development along Ocean Blvd. diminished the presence of Victory Park. Today we see an example of how developers are restoring amenities to once again make a Victory Park a place where downtown residents, employees and visitors can relax and enjoy a beautifully landscaped park. A second mini park facing Seaside Way will be developed as well as a site incorporating the Looff Building roof cupola.
Points of Interest along Victory Park
Ocean & Alamitos
On the southwest corner of Alamitos & Ocean a plaque marks the point where the lands that belonged to Manuel Nieto from a Spanish Land Grant were divided back 1784, creating Rancho Los Cerritos to the west and Rancho Los Alamitos to the east.
Ocean & Long Beach Blvd.
Pacific Electric Company Red Cars began rail service between Long Beach and Los Angeles along American Avenue, now Long Beach Blvd. The Red Cars remained in service until 1963.
A plaque on a wall near the Long Beach Performing Arts Center marks the western end of the 3,700-mile Transcontinental Hwy from Massachusetts to Long Beach.
Ocean & Pine
At Ocean Blvd. and Pine Ave. one could enter the beach and the Pike Amusement Zone with concession stands, a skating rink, rides, theaters, Loof's Hippodrome, a merry-go-round and other attractions. The Hippodrome later became Loofâ€™s Lite-O-Line. The Pike closed in 1979 and that last structure was removed in 2001.
Ocean & Chestnut
You can still see the foundation of the Virginia Hotel that opened in 1908. This grand hotel had marble columns, a curved staircase, decorative oriental rugs, and mahogany European furniture. The hotel stood until 1933, the year of the Long Beach earthquake.
Green Space, Park Benches, Ocean View.