Pine Avenue in Downtown Long Beach

An introduction to Pine Avenue in Downtown Long Beach, California.

Pine Avenue: A Classic Blend of Past and Future

It has all the international flair and bravura of a classic European quarter, yet its name "Pine Avenue" speaks of its uniquely American roots.

Nestled amid the high rises that form Long Beach's metropolitan skyline, and located only minutes from Los Angeles and Orange County, Pine Avenue has emerged as the city's premier business district. The revitalized commercial quarter has resumed its role as the focal point of downtown Long Beach business and social activity, following an extensive 20 year redevelopment effort.

Restaurants on Pine Avenue
Pine Avenue also offers visitors one of the best selections of fine dining and entertainment choices found in Southern California. A sampling of the area's restaurants, many of which offer patio dining, include Rock Bottom Brewery, The Madison, L'Opera, Smooth's Sports Grille and King's Fish House.

Bars and Nightclubs on Pine Avenue
Entertainment options are equally impressive with nightclubs like Alegria and Cafe Sevilla, which feature live flamenco dancers; Cohiba offers nightly, live entertainment and dancing; and the nationally known Blue Cafe which offers live entertainment nightly. The Vault 350 is Pine Avenue's versatile entertainment venue, presenting famous comedians and a wide range of musical concerts from hip hop to country western.

In many ways, today's Pine Avenue shares many similarities to the Pine Avenue of turn of the century Long Beach. Back then, Pine Avenue was a bustling business district, flanked on its southern end by the world famous Pike Amusement Park, and beyond that, the cool, blue waters of the Pacific. Families would stroll along Pine Avenue, buying everything from house wares, to clothes, to furniture. Often, they would finish off their outing by sampling the Pike's many exciting attractions such as the Salt Water Plunge, Pleasure Pier or Cyclone Racer. For the less adventurous, there was the Pike's Walk of a Thousand Lights, the Dancing Pavilion or the Pacific Aquarium.

Thanks to a successful business venture between the Pike's founder, Colonel Charles Drake and railroad magnate Henry Huntington - the two of whom connected downtown Long Beach to Los Angeles via the celebrated Red Car Line - Long Beach quickly became the year round convention and resort destination of California's Pacific Coast.

Grand hotels, including the exclusive Virginia Hotel, were known throughout the country for their lavish accommodations and beautiful views. Pine Avenue and the Pike remained a favorite Los Angeles area destination until the mid 1950s, when, like in many American cities at the time, residents and businesses began moving out of the inner city to suburbia's green knolls. For nearly 20 years, Pine Avenue and the rest of Long Beach's downtown became virtually silent. The Pike, once a famous city landmark, fell into disrepair and was finally closed in 1973.

In the late 1970s, a large portion of downtown Long Beach - 421 acres - was officially deemed a redevelopment area. The goal of the revitalization plan was to restore the spirit and vitality to the once robust commercial center. The process began with the development of the Ocean Boulevard corridor. It was during this period that most of the city's first class hotels were constructed, including the Hyatt Regency, Westin (then a Sheraton) at Shoreline Square, the Long Beach Renaissance and Hilton. Class A office buildings such as the World Trade Center, Shoreline Square Tower and Landmark Square were also built during this period.

By the late 1980s, with Ocean Boulevard well on its way, the Long Beach Redevelopment Agency turned its attention to Pine Avenue. In 1990, the Redevelopment Agency collaborated with Janss Corporation to develop Pine Square, a mixed use theater/retail/residential complex. Less than 24 months later, the first 16 screen AMC Theater in Southern California made its home on Pine Avenue. It also signaled the opening of several new retail shops and restaurants such as Johnny Rockets.

In 1990 the opening of the Metro Blue Line signaled the return of light rail transportation to Long Beach. Now visitors can once again travel swiftly between downtown Los Angeles and downtown Long Beach, and like its Red Car predecessor, the Blue Line connects with the other Metro light rail lines.

Pine Avenue is booming thanks to the multi million dollar expansion and reopening of the Long Beach Convention & Entertainment Center. The Long Beach Aquarium of the Pacific in nearby Queensway Bay increases activity along Pine Avenue. The 120,000 square foot Long Beach Aquarium of the Pacific represents the first of a multi phased master plan to transform Queensway Bay and downtown Long Beach into one of the nation's premier waterfront destinations. Because of its role as downtown's centerpiece, Pine Avenue hosts a variety of special events throughout the year. The Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach also attracts thousands of visitors to the area each year as the world's best drivers compete for right to be crowned "king of the beach". Other large scale downtown annual events include the Concours D'Promenade, which kicks off Grand Prix week, is held annually on Pine Avenue and the Promenade, between First and Third Streets. In addition, the Promenade is the site of the weekly Downtown Marketplace, which attracts a number of visitors who take advantage of the marketplace's farm fresh produce and handmade crafts. Pine Avenue is the classic blending of the best of Long Beach's past and its future. And as downtown's business anchor, it proudly displays the outward signs of vitality and strong growth once again.

(The information in this article was provided courtesy of the Long Beach Convention and Visitors Bureau)

See also:
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