DLBA Placemaking Grant Awardee to Give Viewers a Chance to Step Back into Long Beach History

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Rendering by We Are the Next, courtesy of the DLBA’s project announcement.

One of the most recent projects to stem from the Downtown Long Beach Associates (DLBA)’s Placemaking Challenge, where the organization gives tens of thousands of dollars in grants to turn the most innovative placemaking ideas into a reality, is titled Step Back.


Katie Rispoli of the nonprofit We Are The Next (NEXT), an organization that focuses on renovating historic locations and just recently finished a revamp of the historic Koffee Pot Cafe on 4th Street, is the creator of the placemaking project, which will add up to five viewing devices on various corners in downtown with a very specific purpose.


“These viewers will intrigue visitors and captivate residents, passerby, and participating walkers in the legacy of Long Beach, building a deeper connection to our city,” stated the DLBA’s project announcement.

The viewing devices will each have a transparent historic photograph of what the area used to look like, so that when a viewer looks through the device, the photograph will align with the current surrounding buildings, showing the blatant contrast between the last 100 years and now, according to the announcement.

The photographs will show “buildings lost, gained and preserved to emphasize the constant evolution of our built environment,” according to NEXT’s website.

“I’m so grateful that We Are the Next was chosen to receive a Placemaking Grant in order for this project to be made possible,” Rispoli was quoted in the post. “We’re bringing together talented Long Beach stakeholders and designers to create these viewers and their components, and supporting the Historical Society of Long Beach and the Long Beach Public Library through the use of their collections along the way.”

Step Back’s concept was developed in 2015 and awarded the DLBA’s $10,000 Placemaking Grant, according to NEXT’s website, while the Long Beach-based nonprofit design firm City Fabrick began designing the materials that will accompany the five viewing stations this spring.

NEXT will also be working with InterTrend Communications, according to a Facebook post, to highlight the historic Psychic Temple building built in 1905, which the agency bought to renovate and use for their offices. Other locations chosen include the Travelodge and Villa Riviera, the Promenade at Broadway and the Public Safety building from Broadway and Magnolia, according to the DLBA.

According to NEXT’s status update, the nonprofit is currently in the process of having the viewing devices approved by the City of Long Beach. Once approval is obtained, the viewers can be ordered and the installation process can commence.

For more information about Step Back, visit We Are the Next’s website here or Facebook page here.

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Asia Morris has been with the Long Beach Post for five years, specializing in coverage of the arts. Her parents gave her the name because they wanted her to be a world traveler and they got their wish. She has obliged by pursuing art, journalism and a second career as a competitive cyclist.