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Long Beach, California

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Long Beach in California.

 

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Long Beach is a city situated in Southern California, on the Pacific coast of the United States. The city is the 39th-largest city in the nation and the seventh-largest in California.

Sites of interest

The RMS Queen Mary is a 1936 art deco ocean liner permanently docked at Long Beach. Roughly 200 ft (61 m) longer than the RMS Titanic, the former Cunard Liner is famous for being the fastest in the world from 1936 to 1952, for its distinctive art deco design and for its use during World War II as a troop transport. It was purchased by the city of Long Beach in 1967 for conversion to a hotel and maritime museum. The nonprofit Aquarium of the Pacific is located on a 5-acre (20,000 m2) site on Rainbow Harbor in Long Beach, Calif.—across the water from the Long Beach Convention Center, Shoreline Village, and the Queen Mary Hotel and Attraction. The Aquarium features a collection of over 12,500 animals representing over 550 different species. The facility focuses on the Pacific Ocean in three major permanent galleries, sunny Southern California and Baja, the frigid waters of the Northern Pacific and the colorful reefs of the Tropical Pacific. Favorite exhibits at the Aquarium also include the Aquarium's interactive Shark Lagoon (guests can pet sharks and sting rays) and Lorikeet Forest (guests can feed nectar to colorful lorikeet birds). Exhibits at the Aquarium introduce the inhabitants and seascapes of the Pacific, while also focusing on specific conservation messages associated with each region. Exhibits range in size and capacity from about 5,000 to 350,000 gallons. The Aquarium of the Pacific has been visited by more than 13 million people since its opening. The Aquarium was rated #2 Los Angeles area Family Destination in the most recent Zagat U.S. Family Travel Guide, second only to Disneyland. The Aquarium of the Pacific is also the only major nonprofit aquarium in the nation to have attendance increases for the past six years in a row. Morey & Associates’ research ranked the Aquarium of the Pacific as number one in visitor diversity among all of the nation’s leading aquariums.

The Long Beach Department of Parks, Recreation and Marine received a Gold Medal award from the National Recreation & Park Association in 2002, 2003, and 2004, recognizing the Department's "outstanding management practices and programs." The Department manages 92 parks covering over 3,100 acres (13 km²) throughout the city, including the 815 acre (3.3 km²) El Dorado Regional Park, which features fishing lakes, an archery range, youth campground, bike trails, and picnic areas. The Department also operates four public swimming pools, and four launch ramps for boaters to access the Pacific Ocean.

The 102.5-acre (0.4 km2) El Dorado Nature Center is part of the larger El Dorado Regional Park. The center features lakes, a stream, and trails, with meadows and forested areas.

The Municipal Fly Casting Pool at Recreation Park in East Long Beach is a 260-by-135-foot clear water, fishless pond built and operated since 1925 by the Long Beach Casting Club as only one of two Southern California city operated casting ponds (the other being in Pasadena). Described recently as a serene pond "surrounded by a seemingly endless stretch of green grass against a backdrop of mountains and palm trees," several movie stars from the 1940s were taught to fly cast at the pond, including Robert Taylor, Clark Gable, Jimmy Durante, and Barbara Stanwyck. In 1932, the fly fishing clubhouse adjacent to the fly fishing pond was used for the Summer Olympic Games and housed military personnel during World War II.

The Long Beach Greenbelt is a section of the old Pacific Electric right-of-way, restored by community activists as native habitat. It currently supports approximately 40 species of California native plants as well as a plethora of urban wildlife. Its pleasant, relaxing atmosphere provides for community open space while educating citizens about what the land was like prior to industrialization and urbanization.

Rancho Los Alamitos is a 7.5-acre (30,000 m2) historical site owned by the City of Long Beach and is near the Long Beach campus of the California State University system. The site includes five agricultural buildings, including a working blacksmith’s shop, 4 acres (16,000 m2) of gardens, and an adobe ranch house dating from around 1800. The Rancho is within a gated community; visitors must pass through security gates to get to it.

Rancho Los Cerritos is a 4.7-acre (19,000 m2) historical site owned by Long Beach in the Bixby Knolls area near the Virginia Country Club. The adobe buildings date from the 1880s. The site also includes a California history research library.

Long Beach offers singing gondolier trips through the romantic canals of Naples. Along with gondola rides on Lake Merritt, on the Napa River, in Huntington Beach, in Newport Beach, in Redondo Beach, and at The Venetian (Las Vegas), Long Beach is only one of seven places in the Western United States where tourists may ride in a gondola.

The front beach area of the city was once home to a now-defunct amusement park. Its first rollercoaster opened for business in June 1907. It was named the Figure 8 after the shape of the tracks, and was built on pilings that reached out over the water. In 1914 the Pike Amusement Zone undertook several upgrades and a new roller coaster named the Jack Rabbit Racer was opened in May 1915 becoming the second largest racing coaster in the country. It was part of the Silver Spray Pier which included several new rides and concessions. In the mid twenties, several expansions were made to the area and the Jack Rabbit Racer was remodeled raising the ride's dips to a greater height and steepness but it was soon removed to make way for the Cyclone Racer roller coaster which opened May 1930. The new coaster was also built on pilings over the ocean, but as the breakwater was built and the harbor expanded, the sandy beach extended. Eventually the entire pier stood over the beach. When demolished in September 1968, the Cyclone Racer was the only two track roller coaster in the United States.

Although California's surfing scene is said to have gotten its start in Long Beach when in 1911 two surfers returned from Hawaii and the city hosted the first National Surfing and Paddleboard Championships in 1938, surfing is now uncommon in Long Beach due to a 2.2-mile (3.5 km) long breakwater built in 1949 to protect the U.S. Pacific Fleet. The breakwater reduces "mighty waves to mere lake-like lapping along the city's beaches." Some Long Beach residents also cite the breakwater as a reason for the dirtiness of the water in Long Beach, as the water is not able to circulate. The fleet left in the 1990s, and now some residents are calling for it to be lowered or eliminated and the city has commissioned a $100,000 study for this purpose.

The Long Beach Dog Beach Zone is the only legal off-leash area on the beach for dogs in all of Los Angeles County. This 3-acre (12,000 m2) area is situated in Belmont Shore between Roycroft and Argonne avenues.

Culture

Art

The Long Beach Museum of Art, sited in the historic Elizabeth Milbank Anderson residence, is owned by the City of Long Beach, and operated by the Long Beach Museum of Art Foundation. Long Beach also features the Museum of Latin American Art, founded in 1996 by Dr. Robert Gumbiner. It is the only museum in the western United States that exclusively features Latin American art.

The University Art Museum on the Long Beach State campus (founded in 1973) has a national reputation[citation needed] for its high-quality and innovative programs. Long Beach State is also home to the largest publicly funded art school west of the Mississippi.[citation needed]

Long Beach's newest museum is The Pacific Island Ethnic Art Museum (PieAM). This museum was also founded by Dr. Robert Gumbiner and is the only museum of its kind in the continental United States.[citation needed] The museum opened its doors on October 15, 2010.

In 1965, Long Beach State hosted the first International Sculpture Symposium to be held in the United States and the first at a college or university. Six sculptors from around the world and two from the United States created many of the monumental sculptures seen on the campus. There are now over 20 sculptures on the campus.

Long Beach is known for its street art. Some of the murals were created in conjunction with the city's Mural and Cultural Arts Program, but many others were not.

Long Beach has some of the greatest artists around. Such artists like Street Art / Pop Artist Chris Strong AKA Art By Chris Strong can be seen at galleries and art walks in Bixby Knolls and Downtown Long Beach. His use of classic black and white acrylic paint with music notes or blue prints as backgrounds has caught the eyes of many art investors. You can see more artist like Chris Strong at art walks held on Friday's and Saturday's of every month. .

On the exterior of the Long Beach Sports Arena is one of the artist Wyland's Whaling Walls. At 116,000 square feet (11,000 m²), it is the world's largest mural (according to the Guinness Book of Records).

Shops and galleries in the East Village Arts District, in downtown Long Beach hold their monthly art openings and artists exhibit in street galleries on the second Saturday of the monthduring the Artwalk.

Long Beach has a percent for art program administered through the Arts Council of Long Beach and the Redevelopment Agency which ensures that new private developments contribute to the arts fund or commission artworks for their new projects.

Theater

Long Beach has several resident professional and semi-professional theater companies, notably:

Musical Theatre West, one of the largest regional theatrical producers in Southern California, who performs at the Carpenter Performing Arts Center on the campus of CSU Long Beach;

International City Theatre, who produces plays and musicals at the Center Theater (part of the Long Beach Convention and Entertainment Center);

The Long Beach Playhouse, in continuous operation for over 75 years, has shows running 50 weeks out of the year on two stages.

Long Beach Shakespeare Company for over 20 years has provided free outdoor Shakespeare Festivals in the Summer.

Additionally, Long Beach is home to a number of smaller and “black-box” theaters, including the Found Theatre, Alive Theatre,[66] the Garage Theatre and California Repertory Company (part of the graduate theater program at CSULB) that currently performs at the Royal Theater aboard the Queen Mary in Downtown Long Beach.[68] Numerous tours and other stage events come through Long Beach, particularly at the Terrace Theater and the Carpenter Center, and both CSU Long Beach and Long Beach City College maintain active theater departments.

Cultural events

The Aquarium of the Pacific believes that bringing people together from diverse backgrounds and interests to understand and respect one another’s differences is a key to solving environmental issues. As a result, the Aquarium also offers cultural festivals with dance, music, art, and special educational activities. The Aquarium began producing cultural festivals in 2002, and now has nearly 10. Through these festivals the Aquarium works with members from the diverse ethnic communities in its region to create events that celebrate their traditions and connections to the ocean. The Aquarium of the Pacific was also the first in the museum, aquarium, or zoo industry to reach out to people with disabilities to create a weekend-long festival to celebrate their creative abilities. In 2004 the Aquarium debuted its annual Festival of Human Abilities featuring wheel-chair hip-hop dancers, mouth painters, inspirational speakers, and a variety of musicians with disabilities. This festival was highlighted at the national conference of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums in 2007. Aside from cultural festivals, the Aquarium also features other events to reach out to special interest groups such as its Divers’ Day and Senior’s Day. The goal of their events is to bring people from all backgrounds together to appreciate their differences and work together in the common goal of helping our World Ocean.

In October, Long Beach State hosts the CSULB Wide Screen Film Festival, at the Carpenter Performing Arts Center. The festival started in 1992 as a showcase for movies filmed in the widescreen format, but has since been transformed into an artist-in-residence event. A major film artist (such as former CSULB student Steven Spielberg) screens and discusses their own work as well as the ten films that most influenced their cinematic vision.

Christmas boat "parades" are a Southern California tradition, with at least one held every weekend night from December 1 till Christmas. The "Naples Island Christmas Parade" has been held since 1946, and passes through the canals of Naples and around Alamitos Bay past Belmont Shore. The "Parade of A Thousand Lights" is in the Shoreline Village area (near Downtown Long Beach and the RMS Queen Mary). There is also a Christmas boat parade in the nearby Port of Los Angeles/San Pedro area, and another in the Huntington Harbour community of nearby Huntington Beach.

The Long Beach Lesbian & Gay Pride Parade & Festival has been held in May or June since 1984 . It is the second largest event in Long Beach, attracting over 125,000 participants over the two day celebration. It is the third largest Gay Pride Parade in the United States.

The Long Beach Sea Festival is held during the summer months (June through August). It features events centered on the ocean and the beach. These events include beach volleyball, movies on the beach, and a tiki festival.

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