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Structural Changes at Center of City

A look at the city of yesteryear compared with today.

Long Beach natives and newcomers alike now have a place where they can come to compare and contrast the city of the past with the present.

Our Long Beach Then & Now column will feature snapshots of buildings and neighborhoods from yesteryear and put them beside photos taken from the same area today. Our first column focuses on some centrally located buildings: the Lafayette Hotel, the Long Island Rail Road Station and the Long Beach Post Office.

The Lafayette Hotel

The Lafayette Hotel once occupied the southwest corner of Edwards Boulevard and Park Avenue before it was destroyed by fire in 1930. When the hotel was built, Edwards was  named Jackson Boulevard and, like today, it was a corner busy with people coming to enjoy the delights of Long Beach.

Over the years, the Lafayette Hotel went through several name and architectural changes, with the last featuring the addition of a Nedick’s, know for its hot dogs, on the corner. Oddly enough, Five Guys Burgers and Fries now occupies the very same location that once housed Nedick’s.

Post Office

The original post office in Long Beach was built in 1936, and except for some plantings around the foundation and a ramp to the left of the entrance, the building remains basically the same 75 years later. The real treasure of this building, located at East Park Avenue and Riverside Boulevard, is found in the lobby, where there is a mural by Jon Corbino, installed in 1939, entitled "The Pleasures of the Bathing Beach."

Train station

Built in 1909, the Long Island Rail Road station has served Long Beach residents and visitors for more than a century.

The earliest railroad station was located near Broadway and served the famous Long Beach Hotel, built in 1880. When the hotel fell to fire in 1907, the station was moved closer to what was then Park Street, where Burger King does business today, and two years later was moved across the street to its current location on Park Avenue.

From the outside, the station seems to have hardly changed over 100 years, but the interior has been redesigned dramatically, and many people remember the stores that once lined its southern wall as late as the 1960s.

If you have past and present photos that you would like to share, please email them with captions to: josephk@patch.com.

Roslyn Bernstein March 13, 2011 at 09:44 PM
Roslyn Bernstein Boardwalk Stories www.blueeftpress.com To many viewers, the title of Jon Corbino's 1939 WPA mural in the Long Beach Post Office, "Pleasures of the Bathing Beach," contrasts markedly with the somber faces of the bathers. Here is what New York Times critic John Rather wrote about the mural in 2006: "Corbino's more complex and misleadingly named "Pleasures of the Bathing Beach" in the Long Beach post office is filled with apprehension bordering on dread. In the right foreground, a woman seen from behind holds aloft a note or letter. A downcast group nearby ignores her. It is as if a tragedy or catastrophe is imminent or has just occurred. Other figures in the work squirm more than frolic." See link: http://www.nytimes.com/2006/05/21/nyregion/nyregionspecial2/21limura.html?fta=y&pagewanted=all

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