Long Beach Historical Timeline
Take a step back in time to experience Long Beach when it was an 1800s ranching community and see how the railroad and port established the city as a booming hub of industry and culture.
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LONG BEACH HISTORICAL TIMELINE
1784 The area that is now Long Beach was first settled as part of a massive Spanish land grant to soldier Manuel Nieto, encompassing the historic 28,000-acre Rancho Los Alamitos and its sister rancho, 27,000-acre Rancho Los Cerritos.
1866 Rancho Los Cerritos sold to Lewellyn Bixby and then managed by his brother Jotham. The Bixby family soon became prominent ranchers and developers of Long Beach.
1882 Long Beach, originally planned as Willmore City by developer William Willmore, begins forming along the coast.
1885 Competition between the new Santa Fe Railroad and older southern Pacific Railroad attract hordes of visitors to Long Beach and create a real estate boom.
1888 Residents of Willmore City rename their town after its long, wide beaches, and “Long Beach” becomes an officially incorporated city.
1902 The introduction of the Pacific Electric trolley causes the city to grow both as a resort and commercial center.
1902 From 1902 to 1910 Long Beach is the fastest growing city in the United States.
1911 The Port of Long Beach established.
1911 Aviator Cal Perry Rogers completes the first Trans-Continental airplane flight. Flying from Goose Neck, New York, he lands in the surf near Long Beach’s Pine Avenue Pier on December 10, 1910. His 4,000 flight took 84 days, including multiple crash landings.
1921 Oil is discovered on Signal Hill and Long Beach flourishes with a million-dollar-per-month building boom downtown. Additional strikes in Long Beach and along the coast in the 1930’s help make California one of the nation’s larger oil producers.
1933 Long Beach struck by a major earthquake, damaging or destroying hundreds of buildings. U.S. sailors and naval personnel came ashore from ships anchored in the Port of Long Beach to render aid to victims of the disaster. At the time of the earthquake, the famous Revolutionary Warship, U.S. Navy frigate USS Constitution “Old Ironsides” was anchored in Long Beach, but was undamaged in the quake.
1941 The U.S. Naval Shipyard dry dock built to service the largest naval ships.
1941 Douglas Aircraft Company plant at Long Beach Airport dedicated on October 17, and first C-47 Skytrain (military version of DC-3) delivered in early 1942. Long Beach plant would build 4,285 of the total 10,632 C-47s Douglas built during the war.
1947 The first and only flight of Howard Hughes' Spruce Goose, the world's largest airplane, takes off over Long Beach Harbor. After the flight the enormous flying boat is housed in its dry dock hangar, where it is stored in perfect condition for the next 33 years.
1949 California State University Long Beach founded.
1962 The Long Beach Arena opens.
1967 The city of Long Beach purchases Cunard's former luxury cruise liner, the Queen Mary, to be docked in Long Beach Harbor as a major tourism attraction and hotel.
1975 The city embarks on a 25-year multi-billion dollar redevelopment program.
1975 The first Long Beach Grand Prix auto race takes place on downtown streets.
1977 Mario Andretti wins the Long Beach Grand Prix, the first win by an American in a U.S. Grand Prix, sparking widespread interest in the Long Beach race and future attendance soars.
1978 The Long Beach Convention & Entertainment Center opens adjacent to the Long Beach Arena. The complex includes the Terrace Theater, Center Theater, 14 meeting rooms and 88,000 square feet of exhibit hall space.
1982 Shoreline Village, the Downtown Shoreline Marina and Shoreline Park opened.
1983 The Spruce Goose, moved from its hidden hangar, goes on display adjacent to the Queen Mary inside the world's largest clear span geodesic-style dome.
1984 Long Beach is the site for four Olympic events during the Los Angeles Olympics--yachting, volleyball, fencing and archery.
1989 The downtown Long Beach World Trade Center opens.
1990 Long Beach gets “Back On Track” with the grand opening of the Metro Blue Line, the first link in the Los Angeles Metro Rail project, providing light rail train service between downtown Long Beach and downtown Los Angeles.
1992 The Spruce Goose moves to the Air Venture Museum in McMinnville, Oregon, and its dome is "converted" for use as a movie studio and special event space.
1994 Completion of the Long Beach Convention & Entertainment Center expansion, tripling the existing exhibit space to 334,000 square feet.
1998 The Long Beach Aquarium of the Pacific opens.
1999 The Long Beach Towne Center, a sprawling entertainment, dining and shopping complex opens on the site of the former US Naval Hospital.
2002 CityPlace, a modern, open-air shopping plaza, opens downtown.
2002 JetBlue flies into Long Beach Airport with first flight on May 1, leading to ever-expanding service to major cities across the country.
2003 Carnival Cruise Lines opens “The Long Beach Cruise Terminal at the Queen Mary” and becomes the first cruise line to operate from Long Beach.
2003 The Pike at Rainbow Harbor entertainment complex opens in the downtown waterfront.
2004 The Long Beach Aquatic Festival features the US Olympic Team Trials—Swimming, the most successful Trials ever in both records broken and attendance. The festival also includes the FINA World Championships in men’s and women’s water polo.
2006 Long Beach celebrates “A Royal Rendezvous” on February 22, as the Queen Mary 2, the world’s largest ocean liner, sails into Long Beach Harbor to salute her namesake, the RMS Queen Mary. Hundreds of small boats and more than 10,000 spectators surround the harbor area.
2007 Long Beach is the host city for the “overall finish” of the AMGEN Tour of California professional bicycle race. Eighteen international teams compete in this “Tour de France style” cross country race that covers more than 650 miles of scenic California roadways.
2009 April 23, “Earth Day, famed marine artist Wyland completes his “Earth, The Blue Planet” mural on the rooftop of the Long Beach Arena, the largest painting of planet Earth from space. The new mural complements his “Planet Ocean” or “Whaling Wall” which encircles the Long Beach Arena and was recognized as the world’s largest mural by the Guinness Book of Records when it was finished in 1992.
2009 At midnight on New Year’s Eve, Travis Pastrana breaks rally car jump world record by soaring 269 feet over downtown Long Beach’s Rainbow Harbor as part of Red Bull’s “No Limits” event.
2009 The prestigious TED Conference moves to Long Beach for a five year annual engagement, bringing notable luminaries in Technology, Entertainment and Design to speak on “Ideas Worth Spreading.”
2010 Red Bull Flugtag soars over Rainbow Harbor as dozens of whimsical human powered aircraft attempt to fly while entertaining a host of 100,000 spectators.
2011 Long Beach celebrates the 100th anniversary of the first trans-continental airplane flight by Cal Perry Rogers. In a special ceremony a commemorative plaque and replica of Perry’s Wright Flyer is installed in the lobby of the Long Beach Arena.
2013 Long Beach Airport opens new concourse and passenger terminals.
2013 The Pacific Room at the Long Beach Arena opens and becomes a pioneer concept in customizable special event spaces.
2015 Long Beach is “Host Town” to Chinese Team for the 2015 Special Olympics World Games Los Angeles. Long Beach also is the site of 5 of the sporting venues, the only city outside of LA to host a competition venue.
2015 POW! WOW! Long Beach, the first west coast expansion of the renowned POW! WOW! Hawaii art movement, takes over downtown Long Beach with 12 artists painting large than life size street murals on Long Beach buildings and structures.
2015 The last Boeing C-17 Globemaster III leaves Long Beach, the last aircraft to be built in the city. Douglas Aircraft began at the Long Beach Airport in 1941, merged with McDonnell Aircraft in 1967 and was taken over by Boeing Aircraft in 1997. In that time, the Long Beach aircraft plant produced more than 15,000 aircraft, including the DC-3, C-47, B-17, DC-8, DC-10, MD-80, B-717, and C-17.
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