Racial Boundaries in Long Beach Project Proposal (Totianna, Lucas, and Ryan)

Defining Racial Boundaries in Downtown Long Beach

The methodology that we intend to use is that of GIS, excel charts, and the digital archive. The objective of this research is to study the transforming landscape of Long Beach and possibly other downtown’s experiencing urban renewal. Through this project, we hope to determine how discourses have shaped both the physical image of Long Beach as well as the imagined idea of the Downtown core within the hegemonic discourse of the 21st century. Our project will focus on the history of Long beach, specifically the downtown area, from the 1940’s to now by studying the transforming landscape of Long Beach through urban renewal and gentrification. Our goal is to determine how discourses have shaped both the physical image of Long Beach as well as the imagined idea of the downtown core. Due to the complexity of this topic, we will be addressing four questions that we hope to answer; Notably, these questions might change and some might be omitted due to time and resource constraints. The following questions are:

  1. How has Downtown Long Beach and its adjacent communities transformed since Post World War II?
  2. How have dominant discourses of race and the urban core shaped the spatialization and shifting cultural boundaries of Downtown Long Beach from its construction of the Rainbow Pier to its revitalization of Pine Street and the Pike?
  3. How do older, long term residents experience the reconstruction of Long Beach and how do newcomers (yuppies/hipsters) experience it?
  4. What impact does gentrification/urban renewal have on middle class and working class residents and how does the intersectionality of race, gender, class, and ethnicity affect the socioeconomic landscape of Long Beach? As we progress through the semester, we hope to use multiple forms of primary sources alongside secondary sources for our research.

Groundwork for the Website

The sole purpose of this project is to form a digital project and create a historical narrative. After consideration of the various web tools, we will be using Omeka to archive all our sources into one large database. However, due to the nature of our topic, we will be creating a interactive map of Long Beach for users. We considered using hypercities, but it might be irrelevant within the next few months. Therefore, we will be using Neatline, an Omeka mapping tool, to create our website. One thing we will be considering is whether the archive will be hidden in the background or whether it will also be accessible to public. The direction we are currently leaning towards is open public access. Furthermore, we will allow the public to add their own sources into the archive. However, it might prove beneficial to create a separate archive and create it as a public archive allowing residents to form a unique narrative from our own.

Layout the Website

To be determined

Locations of Interest

This is a list of potential locations for possible case studies. Each location in someway has been reconfigured and reshaped, whether physical, racial, or cultural, and provides closer glimpses on the power of discourses within Southern California. However, not all locations will be used for the sake of time and resources.

  1. The Urban center
    1. Pine Street (Downtown Long Beach)
    2. The Pike
    3. The Waterfront
    4. Northern Long Beach
    5. Pacific Coast Highway
    6. The Queen Mary
    7. Wilmore
    8. Altim
    9. Westside
  2. The Suburbs
    1. Bixby Knolls
    2. Belmont Shore
    3. Broadway Corridor
    4. Bluff Heights
    5. Los Altos
    6. Lakewood Village
  3. The Enclave
    1. Signal Hill

Our Sources

We plan to collect an abundance of sources, whether or not the goal is overly ambitious is to be determined. However, each of these sources prove vital in understanding the complexity and multifaceted nature of Long Beach culture and transformation

  • Photographs
    • Our main sources will  be historic photos of Long Beach. Photographs are vital to our research. Most of the following sources, other than interviews, will be in JPEG form.
  • Architecture
    • Due to the extensive lifespan of some buildings, architecture will allow us to examine how culture has shifted over extensive periods. Furthermore, understanding newer constructions and their developers will provide us an understanding of who transforms Long Beach and what culture are they trying to promote through their architecture and design.
  • Local Art
    • Local art, similar to businesses and fashion, will allow us to observe cultural shifts both within the old community members and newer community members. Art also provides an avenue to see where culture tends to merge more vividly.
  • Interviews
    • Currently looking for potential interviewees; however, this is proving to more difficult than originally planned. We are attempting to interview people who have been impacted by gentrification as well as those who have benefitted from it.
  • Small Businesses
    • Looking at newer small businesses compared to older ones will provide an understanding of cultural shifts
      • It is important to note that small businesses have always existed, and business culture is influenced by larger forces outside of Long Beach or any downtown center; however, these outside forces provide us with an understanding of how businesses depict a specific cultural attitude about their image as well as their self identifying community.
  • Fashion
    • Looking at fashion might prove difficult due to the sheer size and complexity; furthermore, fashion, regardless of culture, shifts and transforms as history plays out. However, considering fashion allows us to understand cultural shifts as well.
  • Maps
    • Maps prove extremely beneficial for urban studies and urban history because they provide historians with quantitative data that will be interpreted. We will be looking at several maps of Long Beach with specific depictions such as:
      • Redlining
      • Socioeconomic layout
      • Racial/ethnicity mapping
      • Gentrification ratio
      • The enclaves

Furthermore, secondary sources will provide insight into the historiography of the urban landscape as well; this would allow us to determine originality within the project so that it may provide significance for other students and historians. We are already in the works of searching and collecting other sources. Thankfully, Long Beach’s history has been well kept; however, more contemporary history of Downtown Long Beach will require a significant amount of personal research.

We may also include a discussion of historical ways that the process of gentrification has been mitigated. This can include a discussion of the recent history of the Keep Your Home California program, for example. We can also talk about anti-gentrification methods that have been used, such as rent control, community land trusts, zoning ordinances, and the more controversial use of direct action and sabotage. It should be noted that these methods are more general to the issue of gentrification and do not necessarily pertain to Long Beach. Therefore, anti-gentrification methods that were used in Long Beach specifically should be the focus of this part of the discussion.

(These secondary sources will be located in our work cited)

Possible Interview Topics and Questions

Our current goal is to interview several Long Beach residents to understand the impact of gentrification on their lives. Below are a list of several topics and questions we are considering to discuss within our interviews. However, it is important to note that interviews need to provide a friendly, comfortable environment for the interviewee. Therefore, some of these topics and questions


  • City/government view on gentrification
  • General citizen view (the working class)
  • Anti-gentrification activists’ view
  • View of groups that work to mitigate gentrification
  • View of the wealthy residents (“gentrifiers”)
  • Effects of gentrification (including on poor residents)
  • Causes of gentrification
  • History of gentrification in Long Beach (general outline of events after 1945)
  • The “renewal” of the Pike/downtown Long Beach and resulting gentrification


  • How have you and/or your family been affected by gentrification?
  • What has the government done in response to gentrification?
  • What is your opinion of gentrification (or urban renewal) in general?
  • How have activists or other non-governmental groups responded to gentrification?
  • What has been the general trend of gentrification in Long Beach since 1945?
  • What has generally caused gentrification in Long Beach?
  • Do you feel that the rebuilding of downtown falls under the category of “gentrification” or “urban renewal”?
  • Do you feel that gentrification is something that can be mitigated or is it unavoidable as a natural urban process?

Possible sources on history of Long Beach

(Note: It may be difficult to get a hold of these books. I will place links below this list of YouTube videos that may serve as easier to use sources).

Cooper, Suzanne Tarbell, John W. Thomas, and J. Christopher Launi. 2006. Long Beach Art Deco. Charleston, SC: Arcadia.

Mullio, Cara, and Jennifer M. Volland. 2004. Long Beach architecture: the unexpected metropolis. Santa Monica, CA: Hennessey + Ingalls.

Cunningham, George, and Carmela Cunningham. 2015. Port town: how the people of Long Beach built, defended, and profited from their harbor.

Case, Walter H., and Jane Elizabeth Harnett. 1927. History of Long Beach and vicinity. Chicago: S.J. Clarke Pub. Co.

Case, Walter H. 1974. History of Long Beach and vicinity. New York: Arno Press.

Somerville, George B. 1914. The lure of Long Beach. [Long Beach, N.J.?]: Long Beach Board of Trade.

Historical Society of Long Beach. 1983. Long Beach: a brief history. Long Beach: The Society.

Ivers, Louise H. 2009. Long Beach: a history through its architecture. Long Beach, Calif: Historical Society of Long Beach.

Howat, Laurel D. 2004. The architecture and art of the Long Beach Airport Administration Building.

Security Trust & Savings Bank. 1925. Ranchos of the sunset: the story of Long Beach. [Long Beach, Calif.]: Security Trust & Savings Bank.

Robinson, W. W. 1954. Long Beach: a calender of events in the making of a city. Los Angeles, Calif: Title Insurance and Trust Co.

Long Beach (Calif.). 1984. 1932 souvenir of Long Beach, California: year ’round convention and resort metropolis of the Pacific Coast. [Long Beach, Calif.]: [Press-Telegram Job Printing Dept.].

Possible video sources on history of Long Beach:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lr6NpeEr2Tg (History of Long beach, California. Past, Present, and Future).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ynq2WQsqNk4 (Then and Now-Historical buildings in Long Beach).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vzti8X_aaxM (Short history of the city of Long Beach CA).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vDtR_m_ZzqM (the history of Long Beach California).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.