Gerrie Schipske.Column by
Besides the name “Long Beach,” the two cities on either side of the country have many things in common in their early history.
The native Americans of both areas fished and hunted small game near the long beaches.
Both face the ocean – although different ones. Both were named for their best asset at the time – a “long beach.” Both built a Long Beach Hotel that were destroyed by fires.
Railroads brought their early success and brought visitors from the “city” to stay at their luxurious hotels.
Visitors came for surf bathing and held tow ropes so not to be swept out to sea.
Each built piers out over their oceans to allow fishing for some of the largest fishes. These piers were later battered and destroyed by the high waves that often came with the storms.
Each had a boardwalk and band shells on the sand. Their first city halls were known for being in clock towers.
People flocked to both cities in the late 1800s for the very same reason – to bask in the sun of a seaside resort. To bring even more, both built a bathhouse pavilion and then an amusement area patterned after Coney Island.
Huntington built an electric trolley system for both cities which brought even more people.
Both cities attempted building a “Mediterranean style” area with white stucco walls and red clay tile roofs. Ours is called “Naples Island” – theirs was called “Riviera of the East.”
Movie stars flocked to both Long Beaches. We had Fatty Arbuckle and W.C. Fields. They had Rudolph Valentino and Florenz Ziegfeld.
Each city adopted a council-manager form of government at different times. Ours in 1921; theirs in 1939 after a police officer running for mayor shot the mayor he was assigned to protect.
Each city has a Long Beach Memorial Hospital.
Both cities were hit with urban blight in the 1960’s and 1970’s and both tore down their amusement parks.
Today, Long Beach, CA has 465,000 people and 9 council members and a mayor. Long Beach, NY has 33,275 people and 5 council members.
Just a few months ago, Hurricane Sandy devastated Long Beach, New York. The city is working its way out of flooding and debris removal. The current weather forecast shows freezing temperatures and snow. For updates on our “sister city” check out http://www.longbeachny.gov/.
* Gerrie Schipske.is a member of the City Council in Long Beach, California. This column originally appeared on Long Beach Patch in California.