Archive for the ‘roads and streets’ Category

To find an example of how not only music, but how the entire culture has changed in the past half century, one only has to consider changes in Long Beach and the entire Southern California landscape a mere fifty years ago. That’s when cruising Hodys, or the Clock or Grisinger‘s Drive-In Restaurants was at its zenith.

Jim Lamirand, Poly student body president in the early 1950s, recalled more of the cruising scene. “There was a Clock Drive-In, all around town. Car clubs cruised the most, Carson & Atlantic, if you had a club, you could mount your plaque, the Cutouts and the Renegades went to the Clock, then to Grisingers at Atlantic and San Antonio.”

Grisingers #3 was at 2955 Bellflower Blvd., the current location of Burger King at Spring Street. But the most popular drive-in, Hodys, owned by the Hodemaker family had locations in Lakewood near Wallich’s Music City and at PCH and Anaheim.

“We would cruise down Atlantic, then at 1200 E. PCH, we’d go east past Ray Robinson’s Record Rack. He had a radio show and would talk about the cruisers as we drove by.”

According to Bill Soon, Wilson class of 1960, “the Clock was on PCH right across the street from the Circle Inn Motel at the Traffic Circle, south of what was The La Ronde Rue restaurant that became the Cinamon Cinder.” In the same area was an Oscar’s Drive-In as well as one at Carson and Woodruff. Popular spots during the day, almost totally forgotten these days.

But all the eating wasn’t all high class. “There was a greasy spoon on 7th St. just across from Wilson, Robbie’s Steak House. Notably, no steak was ever served at Robbie’s. But you could get a basket of fries for a dime, and his jukebox was constantly kicking out the round sounds. ‘High Blood Pressure’ by Huey Smith & the Clowns was a big favorite there. A regular crowd hung out there daily, after school.”

“My memories of cruising are passing the hat to get .75 cents worth of gas so that we could cruise around for the weekend (at 30 cents a gallon or so),” Soon recalled.

Soon who drove a ’56 VW, then a ’56 Chevy, after he wrecked the VW, clearly
recalled “sitting in Hodys, watching guys you knew cruise by in a beautiful pearlescent white ’49 Olds fastback, except for the purplish streak down the rear window caused by the guy who had consumed too much sloe gin, his head hanging over the bottom of the window as they cruised through repeatedly.”

But best of all, Soon recalled “were the blended sounds of many car radios and car record players at Hody’s and other drive-ins belting out the good sounds in the summer night.”

And no self-respecting lowered cruiser behind the wheel of a ’49 Mercury with blue tail lights – now also an infraction – or ’55 Chevy – not to mention driver – would be caught listening to top 40 radio. No, man. Art LaBoe, Huggy Boy, Hunter Hancock or Ray Robinson on a low power station like KGFJ or Wolfman Jack on a border radio station or better yet, out of a customized in-dash record player – a Norelco or an ARC (RCA spelled sideways) spinning 45s, sometimes custom made 45s, which they’d gladly put on metal acetates at Wenzel’s Music in Downey, for a fee of course.

Popular cruising sides were “Rumble” by Link Wray; most anything by Dick Dale & the Deltones in the early 1960s and rare 45s by Little Julian Herrera, just to name a few. Main local cruising routes were Atlantic, PCH, Anaheim St. and even Lakewood and Bellflower Blvd.

Car culture began early in post-World War II popular music. The King Cole Trio’s “(Get Your Kicks On) Route 66” was a major hit in 1946. Felix Figueroa recorded the novelty, “Pico & Sepulveda,” not a hit at all in 1947, but huge when Dr.  Demento got a hold of it.

Then came records about popular locations, like jazz tenor sax player Jimmy Giuffre, who came up with “Big Boy” at the Lighthouse in honor of the new Bob’s Big Boy in 1952 and the Robins who sang about “Smokey Joe’s Café” in 1955, a song than became a popular stage play about the Coasters, but which ex-Robins member Grady Chapman complained he had to pay to get into.

In 1962, the Pastel Six sang about “Cinamon Cinder,” a teenage night club located at the Traffic Circle with another location in the Valley. The Starfires did the Long Beach-oriented “Jordan Stomp” in 1962.

The two cruising-est records of all time were “Whittier Blvd.” by Thee Midniters out of East L.A. in 1965 and the War’s #1 record of 1975, “Low Rider,” created by Long Beach musician and low rider Chuck Miller, whose ride was featured on the picture sleeve.

Such sums up the state of Long Beach and Southern California cruising culture between 1946 and 1975 – roughly.


Unlike the NuPike and Pierpoint Landing, the ill-fated Ghost Town neighborhood was totally lost to the harbor area history of Long Beach directly west of the Jungle over the mouth of the L.A. River.   If this area had a more attractive name, as with the Jungle, it’s been lost to historians.

The area was dotted with beach cabins and nearby luxury cottages for the resort bather crowd frequenting the oceanfront.  When the area was active, there was a cleaners with the sign, “suits pressed while you wait,” the Old Curiosity Shop, a blacksmith and a drugstore at 1241 W. Ocean Blvd.

Street names mirrored those of Belmont Shore:  Ontario and Riverside from like-named Inland Empire towns and Santa Cruz from the central coast; it was roughly bordered by extensions of Broadway, Third St, Seaside and Ocean Blvd. where the 710 Freeway currently breaks off to the north.

It was for this contemplated freeway interchange and because of “subsidence” fears that demolition of Ghost Town, which began in 1952 turned serious in April 1956 when bids were put out to destroy the rest.

Main routes in this area south of the channels and north of the piers were Water and Pico, reflecting both history and harbor and oil development.  More than a thousand people lived or worked for a good 30 years, which meant little because of its key location.

It all gave way to a $10,000,000 Ocean Blvd. Bridge, however land costs were a mere $6,694,000, including legal expenses, appraisers’ fees and other costs.  People and families that lived here went elsewhere.

By Stephen C. Propes

Changes to the area of the Jungle proposed in 1958 

These days, the NuPike gets all the historical action, but right next door was a possibly even more exciting neighborhood – the Jungle –  that was apparently at its dangerous peak in the 1940s through the 1970s.

Ever since the days of Navy ships docking in Long Beach, making this a classic Navy town, there have been concerns about the safety of certain areas frequented by sailors.

In 1938, a stretch of the 200 block of W. Ocean at “the old Davies cafeteria” or the Kent building at 215 E. First where sailors would rent cots on a second floor complex of rooms, were thought to be firetraps – probably because it was true.

Then there was the Jungle.  With names like Venetian Pl., Neptune Pl., Mermaid Pl. Bonnie Brae Pl., Surfline Pl. and Seaside Blvd. as well as extensions of Daisy and Golden, it sounded like an idyllic vacation on the Riviera, but it was anything but.  It was basically a warren of apartment buildings that dated back to the old days of Long Beach, when out of town visitors would use them as summer apartments.

Later, sailors and those who serviced sailors used them for – well, often not such nice things.  When the Navy left in the 1970s, biker gangs took over.  It was all-purpose.

Here are a few police reports from 1958, the year the city began seriously considering replacing the Jungle with a parking lot.  For reasons otherwise unknown, out of a half dozen place names, Neptune and Mermaid seemed to attract the most action.

Jan. 25

The victim, a transient, said he was struck from behind at he foot of a stairway between Seaside Blvd. and Ocean Blvd.  When he regained consciousness, he was in a shack at the rear of 611 E. Seaside Blvd.

Feb. 13

Barbara Anne Lynn, I5 of 541 W. Seaside Blvd. violated terms of. three-year probation

Mar. 5

John Lemke Van Haren, 38, of 46 Mermaid PL, today was accused of breaking the amr of his 6-year-old stepson.

Mar. 8

Barbara M. Watd, 48 Neptune .PI. was attacked.

Apr. 15

Navy man Joseph A. Aubert, 34, of the USS Helena complained a man and a girl he met in a bar beat and robbed him of cash and traveler’s checks after luring him to an apartment at 48 Neptune Pl.

May 11

At Tops Neptune Lounge, 631 W. Seaside Blvd., a thief who apparently used a duplicate key took two money bags containing $472 from the safe.

July 12

Policemen arrested two sailors, one in civilian clothes, at Seaside B1vd. and Magnolia Ave.

Aug 20

Booked at city jail for intoxication, disorderly conduct and assault were Howard Chappell, 18 and Lynn F. De Vilbiss, 19, both of the USS Hamul. Two girls, Patricia Ann Faulconer, 16, of 35 Mermaid Pl, and Carolyn Sue Anderson, 17, of 25. Neptune PI., told officers the sailors and two others climbed into their car when it stopped at Daisy Ave. and Santa Cruz St.

Aug. 24

Henry Roberts, 14, of 417 E. Seaside Blvd., Apt. 312, told officers he was robbed by three older boys while in the 300 block of West Pike.

Dec. 25

At American Ave. and Seaside Bd., a victim told police he told a young gunman “Go to hell”, and clinched the deal, when threatened added, “Go ahead and shoot.”

Maybe not an ideal place to hang out, but if you were looking for excitement or a victim (or to get victimized), well then…

We all know that streets or neighborhoods don’t cause crime, but as with today’s practice of demolishing offending motels and such, the Jungle had to go.  Thus the end of Mermaid, Neptune and Venetian, though a cleaned-up (we hope) Seaside persists, but not the Seaside Hospital where many of the victims and offenders were taken.

There was also talk of a Shoreline Drive to replace the congested Ocean Blvd.


Lakewood Village is in Long Beach, not in Lakewood.

Homes in LV were marketed for farmland opportunities.

In Long Beach, Eastsiders are in the better neighborhood.

In New York, London and L.A., the east side is not a desirable district.

North Long Beach doesn’t like that name, wants to be known as Top of the Town.


Most north-south routes are avenues; most east west are streets.

Numbered streets are east-west from 1st St in downtown to 70th St. north of the 91 Freeway.  In contrast, numbered places are all south of Ocean Blvd. from 1st Pl. near Alamitos Ave. to 15th Pl. near Cherry Ave.  Places then pick up at 36th Pl. to 38th Pl. east of Redondo Ave.  There are no known 16th Pl. thru 35th Pl.  Places pick up once again at 54th Pl. to 72nd Pl. both north and south of Ocean Blvd. at the end of the Peninsula.  There are no known 36th thru 53rd Pl., but several unnamed side streets on the Peninsula.

Lois Lane near Park Ave. was invented  by Robbie Russell, whose real name is Mike “Ruby” Rubin and has an Internet radio show, “Garagemania” on

Virginia Ct. is north-south

Bellflower Blvd is north-south

Wardlow Rd. is east-west; Studebaker Rd. is north-south; Anaheim Rd. sort of meanders.

There are less Studebakers on Studebaker than when it was named.

Dodge Way could also be named after a car, but Falcon Ave. wasn’t.

Broadway is just a way that’s broad, just like in L.A. and NYC.

There used to be a bridge linking the Peninsula to Seal Beach.

The bridge was demolished by Yacht Club Commodore Loynes in the 1950s so yachts could enter inland waters.

Loynes Dr. is moving landfill, killing people and wrecking cars.

At the Loynes family’s estate sale, all photos of the man were found ripped up.

There must be coyotes on Los Coyotes Diagonal.

Until 1958, Long Beach Blvd. was American Ave. south of Willow.  North of Willow it was Long Beach Blvd. It changed when councilman and hardware store magnate Charles Dooley, whose Dooley’s Hardware was on Long Beach Blvd. north of Del Amo threatened to cede from the city.  Apparently city hall took him seriously, because shortly after this threat, the avenue became Long Beach Blvd. all the way to Ocean Blvd., which never threatened the city over an issue like this – at least.

American Ave. was sandwiched between Atlantic and Pacific – get it?  As on any globe, Pacific is west of Atlantic and California is east of Atlantic and Pacific.

When MLK hits Signal Hill, it becomes California, its original name, which it remains when it returns to town in Bixby Knolls.

Atlantic and Pacific end at Ocean as did American.

Many other area streets are water based:  Ocean, Artesia, Lakewood, Spring, even Willow.

There is only one really upper crust route from the Eastside to Downtown.  It involves Bellflower to the Lagoon, Park Ave. to Ocean to Downtown.

There are several routes named after explorers: Livingston Dr., Coronado Ave. and Balboa Pl.

The Traffic Circle isn’t, it’s the Long Beach Roundabout.

There was a planned Los Alamitos Diagonal from Norse Way to about Palo Verde and Anaheim to mirror Los Coyotes Diagonal with the two diagonals intersecting at about Spring and Woodruff with another Traffic Circle, which doesn’t exist.


Many north-south avenues on the Shore are named after Inland Empire cities like Pomona, Corona, LaVerne, Covina, Glendora and Monrovia, which is also the capitol of Liberia.

Some aren’t (Argonne, St. Joseph).

St. Joseph is a saint and/or a town in Missouri, and so is Saint Louis, which is also an avenue near Cherry.

Argonne is a laboratory in Illinois.

Park Ave. is probably named after Park Ave.

Clark Ave. is shown on Google maps as Columbia, after it was renamed such in Downey, a town about five miles north.

Ohio, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Indiana, Virginia, Maine and Oregon all have an avenue home in Long Beach; Virginia has a court.  Michigan does not have an avenue, but Flint does.

Latin American capitol cities like Havana and Santiago have avenues.

Terraine is on hilly terrain.

Even though Long Beach was once known as Iowa By the Sea, there is no Iowa in Long Beach…street or avenue that is.

Linden Ave. is not a contraction of Lynyrd Skynyrd and John Denver.

West side alphabetical avenues start at Adriatic and end at Gale.

Downtown alphabetical avenues start at Alamitos and end at Ultimo, which I supposed makes it the ultimate alphabetical avenue.

Several of these avenues like Lindero, Umatilla, Senesac and Snowden defy sourcing.

Orizaba is a volcano in Mexico.

Molino is a town in Florida; Miramar is an AFB near San Diego.

The spelling picks up at Ximeno, which is east of Termino, which terminates at Livingston.

In Lakewood (and parts of Long Beach), the alphabetical streets start at Adenbrook and end at Stevely, which is the eastern border at the San Gabriel River.

The only way to bypass the Traffic Circle from Kaiser and Community Hospital traveling north and not detouring west to Redondo or south to Anaheim is to go out Hathaway and circle went around a furniture store parking lot off an alley to Stearns.

There is only one street in Long Beach that starts with a Z and it’s a court.

There is no Juan in Junipero.

The way you pronounce Junipero separates the locals from the tourists – just as San Pedro does.  Some folks don’t like that.

“L” fruit trees like Lemon and Lime are supplemented by two “O” trees: Olive and Orange as well as Myrtle and Walnut between Cherry to the east and Magnolia as well as Eucalyptus, Elm, Pine, Cedar, Chestnut and Locust to the west.

Flowering among the avenues are Rose, Gaviota and Gardenia, which is spelled differently from Gardena the city.

Palo Verde Ave. is apparently not named after Palos Verdes, though some locals have been known to confuse them.

Redondo and Hermosa have their counterparts in South Bay; Newport is on the south O.C. coast, each is suffixed Beach.

Cerritos was an avenue before it was a town, which was Dairy Valley until the dairies moved to Chino (they began in Long Beach, then were removed to Dairy Valley).  Cows still come up on Hathaway, which is a drive.

Both Long Beach CA and Long Beach NY have a main Magnolia.

Temple, Stearns and Bixby was all early settlers and each have their own street.  Local businessman Don Temple is not of that family.


There are several state streets.  California isn’t as long as it used to be: Colorado is.  New Hampshire, New York, Vermont and Massachusetts are short.

Southern states are not found in Long Beach, except for Florida.

Anaheim goes from Anaheim Rd. to Wilmington, incorporating some of the swankiest homes and businesses in town to some of the least swanky.

Cambodia Town is on Anaheim St.

Anaheim is named after the town where the Angels play.

Anaheim replaces 13th St., just like Pico in L.A.  Few 13th Streets are known.  Do you know of one?

Anaheim Street could benefit from streetcar activity.

In Long Beach, South St. isn’t.

Cover St. is a little known, privately owned straight street in a business mall (Douglas Park) between Lakewood & Cherry, which is literally covered (blocked) at night, probably to avoid drag races where cops aren’t apt to hide.  So don’t try it.

Cover St. has the town’s only other traffic circle, which isn’t named.

There is a presidential ghetto on the far northwest side of the city (zip code 90810), however it’s not clear whether it’s in Carson or in Long Beach.  From Carson St. on the south and Dominguez St. to the north along Santa Fe Avenue on the east and Alameda on the west, there are nine three-block streets named after Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, Jackson, Van Buren, Harrison and Tyler.  Other than this area, there are no presidential streets or avenues in Long Beach.

Brittain St. has existed since the 1940s, not to be confused with Britton Dr., which was named after actress Barbara Britton (the original Laura Petrie before Mary Tyler Moore and Pamela North on TV’s Mr. & Mrs. North) so she’d make an appearance at the opening of the Los Altos Shopping Center in ’55.

The extension of Cherry out of Long Beach is Garfield; the extension of Carson out of Long Beach is Lincoln.

There is a Nixon and was a Mamie in Lakewood.


In the 1920s, Long Beach set a record for a KKK rally with 20,000 attending at Recreation Park in about 1922.

El Dorado Park was named by contest.

The Angels were about to build their stadium at what’s now the Towne Center in 1962, but balked at being the Long Beach Angels, which the city insisted on.

The park curfew excludes ducks.

Heartwell Park was unofficially known as the Shotgun Strip.

There’s a beach curfew.

Few obey the beach curfew.


If you have to name a place art district, art loft or art exchange, the only thing you don’t have is art. The Art Theater is named after a guy named Art…actually Art was part of his name.

If oil hadn’t been discovered on Signal Hill, Long Beach might be the world’s movie capitol.

The NuPike was just the Pike until 1947, when it was renamed.

Buffum School was named after a retail magnate.

Unlike Italy, Naples waterways have gondoliers, but Venice waterways do not.

Long Beach is the biggest city in the U.S. without a locally originating TV station and nobody seems to care.

In the 1940s, 50s and 60s, Long Beach was divided into four phone prefixes:  Belmont Shore and the Heights was GE (Geneva).  Two were presidential, North Long Beach was GA (Garfield) and the East side was HA (Harrison).  Downtown was HE (the ever popular Hemlock – the only local phone prefix named after a poison).


Long Beach was dry before Prohibition, thus Zafaria.

With Prohibition, Zafaria ceased to exist.  It wasn’t needed

Long Beach fielded the Prohibition VP candidate.

That candidate, a woman, did not win.

There is a Brittain and a Britton, named after an famed actress of the day who agreed to appear for a ceremony opening Los Altos Center, in exchange for the name designation.

A gate used to separate heavily Hispanic Hawaiian Gardens from upscale El Dorado Park Estates and became a bone of contention on the Donahue show.

You can’t give a garage sale without getting a license, and only for two a year.

You have to license your cat in Long Beach.


For about five years, L.A. County Sheriff took over patrol in the northern sectors of town.

Don’t use the elevator at the Long Beach Courthouse.

The elevator in the police dept. HQ ends at the jail.

Don’t use the underway passage between the police building (jail) and courthouse, which means you’ve been arrested.

Will that passageway go the way of the Jergins Tower passageway under Ocean when the court is relocated and rebuilt (we suppose)?

We is me.