On June 24, 1986, ground will be broken in downtown Long Beach on the largest construction project in the city's 89-year history--the five-tower World Trade Center. On the same day 75 years earlier, a delegation representing Long Beach's 17,000 residents marched behind the then 2-year-old municipal band to Pier 1 and rechristened it Long Beach Municipal Wharf. It was the official beginning of the Port of Long Beach, now prominent enough to require a trade center to house shipping and customs agencies and an international communications system. In the early years, the port received Northern California lumber schooners, loaded with redwood for the hundreds of bungalows going up in the seaside resort known as Coney Island of the West. In 1936, oil was discovered in the Wilmington Pool, which lies beneath the port and the city's shoreline; for the next 30 or so years, part of the oil revenues were used to expand the harbor. World War II brought shipbuilding and military cargo shipping to Long Beach. The port was extended farther and farther into the ocean, and today its 60-foot channel is the deepest in the United States.
Long Beach is California's fifth-largest city. With a population of 381,760, it ranks 35th among all U.S. cities.
The Port of Long Beach is the busiest on the West Coast. More than 53 million metric revenue tons of cargo passed through it during fiscal year 1984-85, contrasted with 45 million at the Port of Los Angeles, its adjoining rival.
The port's leading trade partners, in order of trade volume, are Japan, Taiwan, Korea, Hong Kong and the Netherlands.
Ten percent of the state's oil production comes from about 4,000 wells in the Long Beach area. Four offshore drilling islands, along with inland fields, produce more than 120,000 barrels per day.
The three marinas owned by the city of Long Beach make up the world's largest municipally owned-and-operated marina facility, with a total of 3,822 slips.
A $1.3-billion redevelopment project is under way in a 22-block region of downtown; $418.5 million has already been spent. Improvements to date include the addition of 1,300,000 square feet of offices and 745,000 square feet of retail space.
Douglas Aircraft Co. division of McDonnell Douglas Corp. has 21,000 workers, more than twice as many as any other Long Beach employer. The total is expected to reach 30,000 by 1990.
The median family income is $28,800. About 15% of the population lives below the poverty line.
California State University, Long Beach, with enrollment of 32,519, is the second-largest--behind San Diego State--of California's 19 state universities.
More than 22,000 students attend Long Beach City College, including the 800 enrolled in shipbuilding apprenticeships at the Terminal Island extension campus.
About 9,000 sailors are assigned to the 27 ships stationed at Long Beach Naval Station.
The Queen Mary, now a hotel in Long Beach Harbor, is the largest passenger ship still afloat. On its 1936 maiden voyage, round-trip fare between Southampton, England, and New York City was $564. Today, one night in the hotel's largest suite costs $550.
The Long Beach Municipal Band, established in 1909, was the nation's first city-sponsored full-time concert band. Still in operation, the band now performs summer concerts only.
In 1985, 236,655 people attended the 108 conventions held in Long Beach.
Acres of Books, a downtown landmark since 1934, covers half a city block and is filled floor to ceiling with second-hand books, some dating to the 17th Century. Regular customers include author Ray Bradbury and disc jockey Gary Owens.
Every spring, the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach attracts about 200,000 visitors to the downtown streets. Drivers in the celebrity race have included Gene Hackman, Paul Newman and Clint Eastwood.
Howard Hughes' flying boat, the Spruce Goose, which is housed in an aluminum dome next to the Queen Mary, is the largest airplane ever built. It flew only once--for one mile in 1947 at an altitude of 70 feet over Long Beach Harbor. Produced by Linden Gross. Research and text by Mary Allen Daily. Demographics reflect currently available figures.