The History of Long Beach
Beginning in 1784 the area that is now Long Beach was first settled as part of a massive Spanish land grant to a soldier named Manuel Nieto. Surrounding the 28,000 acre Rancho Los Alamitos and its sister rancho, 27,000-acre Rancho Los Cerritos. In 1843, a man from New England named Jonathan Temple bought Rancho Los Cerritos. He built an adobe, what is now a historic landmark called “Los Cerritos Ranch House”. Temple created a thriving cattle ranch and prospered, becoming the wealthiest man in Los Angeles County.
In 1866, Temple sold Rancho Los Cerritos for $20,000 to the Northern California sheep raising firm of Flint, Bixby & Company. Ran by two brothers, Thomas and Benjamin Flint and their cousin Lewellyn Bixby. Managing Rancho Los Cerritos, was Lewellyn’s brother Jotham Bixby. Jotham Bixby was dubbed the “Father of Long Beach”. Three years later, Bixby bought into the property and would later form the Bixby Land Company. In the 1870s, about 30,000 sheep were kept at the ranch and sheared twice yearly to provide wool for trade. In 1880, Bixby sold 4,000 acres of the Rancho Los Cerritos to William E. Willmore. Willmore then subdivided with the hopes of creating a farming community which he called Willmore City. Willmore failed and was bought out by a Los Angeles syndicate that called itself the “Long Beach Land and Water Company.” They changed the name of the community to Long Beach at that time. The City of Long Beach was officially incorporated in 1897.
The town grew as a seaside resort and became the a prime destination for tourist. The Pike was the most famous beachside amusement zone on the West Coast from 1902 until 1969. Attractions like food, games and rides, such at the Sky Wheel dual Ferris wheel and Cyclone Racer roller coaster gave tourist plenty to do. At this time, Long Beach also gained popularity as an important port location. The Navy shipyard and facilities and port became the mainstays of the city. The boom of business continued to be felt into the early 1930s, then a devastating earthquake rocked the area in 1933 killing 120 people. Much of the damage was sustained and paved the way for improved building codes in an effort to prevent such disastrous destruction in the future.
As the fifth largest city in California, Long Beach is home to over 490,000 residents. Long Beach is equipped with all of the big-city amenities while maintaining a laid back beach town type of atmosphere. Delicious restaurants, quality education, friendly and diverse neighborhoods, countless attractions, first-class shopping, and so much more make up what is Long Beach.