Photos by Asia Morris. First District Councilwoman Lena Gonzalez and Mayor Robert Garcia celebrate the lighting of the sign.
Friday evening marked the unveiling and illuminating of a new “Historic Pine Avenue” sign, spanning Pine Avenue between 4th and 5th Streets. Many locals attended as city officials celebrated the sign’s significance as the starting of a new chapter for the downtown community of business owners and residents.
“[…]It’s about more than the sign, tonight I believe, we’re turning the page on where Pine Avenue is within the downtown of this community,” said Mayor Robert Garcia. “This project, yes it’s a sign, yes it’s great looking, a lot of people have worked on it, but I want everyone to think about what is happening to this street.”
Over 90 percent of Pine Avenue from Ocean Boulevard to 9th Street is leased, said Garcia.
“When I was a First District councilmember, that number was probably about 40 percent of the street was leased, and it was empty storefront after empty storefront,” Garcia continued.
During the ceremonious event, the Downtown Long Beach Alliance and the Historic Pine Avenue Business Association were announced as having helped push Pine Avenue forward economically, and the city’s Department of Public Works was mentioned for having helped ensure the sign’s installation.
The sign features four historic images depicting Pine Avenue milestones over the years, including a horse and cart from the early 1900s, the Red Car Tram, from the 1930s and the Kress Building and Woolworth’s lunch counter from the 1950s.
“It’s gone through many improvements and enhancements, this actual sign,” said First District Councilwoman Lena Gonzalez. “At one point it had a clock on it, then it didn’t, there were so many different renditions of this sign, but we just wanted to make sure we got it right.”
Funded with one-time infrastructure funds from the Office of Councilwoman Gonzalez, its design and construction was part of the recent Pine Avenue street improvement project between Seaside Way and Anaheim Street. Damaged streets and sidewalks were replaced, diagonal crosswalks were installed and new trees were planted, as well as lighting, benches and signage added, according to the release.
“I know that this is not the end of it, this is just the beginning, as we light the sign I feel like it almost signifies, as the mayor mentioned, a new chapter, but a new downtown, a new feeling in Long Beach,” Gonzalez said.