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NEIGHBORLY ADVICE: BLUFF PARK

A calm nod to history

June 22, 2008|Leslie Anne Wiggins | Times Staff Writer

Long Beach has given the Queen Mary a berth and Snoop Dogg plenty to rap about, but there's more to it than that. Just check out the "Lone Sailor." It's one of nine bronze statues placed across the U.S. to honor the men and women of the Navy. The "Sailor" stands in Bluff Park, overlooking the harbor. A testament to the area's nautical ties, it's just one of the noteworthy things about the adjoining community.

Beginnings

The Long Beach Museum of Art, on the southwestern border of Bluff Park, is housed in a Craftsman mansion, the Elizabeth Milbank Anderson House. Built in 1912, the house is representative of the area's style.

Now historical, always upscale, most Bluff Park homes were built in the early 1900s. "Ultimate bungalow" is a term architect brothers Charles Sumner Greene and Henry Mather Greene made famous while designing homes during this era. Several are just outside Bluff Park's perimeter. The description, nevertheless, fits many Bluff Park masterpieces.

What it's about

West of downtown Long Beach's high-rises, Bluff Park is a slice of Americana.

There's a beach-town feeling and a sense of history in the streets, which come with white street signs and are bordered by manicured lawns. There are intricate guidelines that owners must abide by to keep the area, deemed a historic district in 1982, looking true to form. Many residents take pride in this, sure in the knowledge that they won't wake up to drastic changes made at a neighbor's whim.

The houses are predominantly Craftsman style, with other architectural designs in the mix -- Cape Cod, Tudor, an occasional Spanish Revival and several apartment buildings from the 1960s and '70s.

People walk their dogs, ride bikes, jog or just stroll along the clean streets (complete with period lamps). American flags hang from the fronts of houses, and children play outside. Sometimes a boat will be hogging a driveway.

Bluff Park possesses a sense of calm. It may stem from the nearness of the ocean or the presence of the Long Beach Sagely Monastery on the neighborhood's southeastern corner. Technically, the eastern-most border is Loma Avenue, but locals insist it's actually Redondo Avenue.

The park that bears the community's name is a narrow stretch of grass where many Frisbees have been tossed. The 13.2 acres are perched atop a steep bluff, which drops to a sandy beach. Locals use it for recreational activities, as well as a place to have a seat and a sandwich while gazing over the Pacific.

Insider's view

Daniel Fincher, a business management consultant originally from Australia and now a five-year Bluff Park resident, describes his block of 2nd Street as "cozy" compared with the wider lots on 1st Street. Fincher is the fourth owner of his home in 101 years. He enthusiastically chats about films and commercials that have used the classic street as a filming location, including the 2004 comedy "Dodgeball."

Local artist Jon Christopher enjoys walking his dog, Mosley, around the area, which he says defines the "American dream." On frequent perfect-weather days, Christopher says he often thinks, "This is why most everybody wants to live in Southern California."

Housing stock

Recently, a house down the street from Fincher's sold the day it was listed, an anomaly in this market. Fincher attributes that quick sale to the confidence that the historic neighborhood will not change.

Currently, a two-story Cape Cod-style home with four bedrooms and 3 3/4 bathrooms is listed at $1,295,000.

Report card

Bluff Park is part of the Long Beach Unified School District.

The children of Bluff Park attend Horace Mann Elementary, which scored 789 out of a possible 1,000 points on the 2007 Academic Performance Index Base Report, or Elizabeth Hudson School, which is kindergarten through eighth grade and scored 798. Woodrow Wilson Classical High School scored 731.

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leslie.wiggins@latimes.com

Sources: cde.ca.gov; Bill Watson, Southern Shores Realty; www.longbeach.gov/park/facilities/parks/bluff_park.asp; lbma.org/.

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