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Archive for the ‘Downtown’ Category

The Pike’s Not Dead!

June 13, 2011 4 comments

This past weekend, I finally had the chance to ride the Ferris Wheel at the Pike downtown. I had been to The Pike several times before, and each time I went seemed more dead than the last. It always amazed me how many empty storefronts there were and how few people were out on a given night. The closure of Borders seemed like it would be a huge blow to the area, and I was worried I was witnessing The Pike’s death as a possible casualty of the economy. But this weekend was different- I was surprised and excited to see so many people out enjoying a beautiful Long Beach weekend downtown.

As many already know, The Pike of today is much different from the original one. Opening in 1902, and shuttering in 1979, it hosted several roller coaster and amusement rides, the original Loof’s, now on Long Beach Blvd., and even a bath house. The newer, modern version seeks to pay homage to the past by incorporating a ferris wheel, merry-go-round, and pedestrian overpass that looks like a roller coaster. The fountain outside of The Laugh Factory on the corner of Pine Ave. and Shoreline tells the stories of some of the Pike’s former main attractions.

The views of Long Beach and the Port are definitely worth the $3 ferris wheel ride. For those coming down for a movie or dinner, there’s plenty more to do before or after. A One Dollar Book Store has even moved into the old Borders location. At the very least, The Pike and nearby Pine Avenue Pier are excellent for a relaxing walk.

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East Village Expands

April 11, 2011 1 comment

Back in December, I blogged about Phantom Galleries Long Beach and a couple of businesses coming to the East Village. Since then, The East Village Arts District has filled a few more storefronts and continues to live up to the “Arts District” reputation.  With the 4th Street opening of Portfolio Coffeehouse’s  newest endeavor, Berlin by Portfolio and it’s next-door neighbor, the newly relocated Fingerprints Music, the area is becoming a more fun and interesting place to hang out and shop. Just around the corner on 3rd Street at Elm Ave., Durty Mick Records has found a new home for its label and store, as well as The Hallway Spectacle, a new vintage/unique find shop, and Downtown Darling Salon & Boutique. New art galleries have opened on Linden Ave. and The Promenade, and the new Vons on Atlantic and Broadway finally opened.

The New Berlin Portfolio and Fingerprints Music

The area is already looking more attractive and fun, and is playing host to a newly-launched Downtown Long Beach Art Walk. The famous Fingerprints will be bringing a slew of in-store performances to the East Village, including an upcoming Foo Fighters show. Durty Mick has also welcomed a few bands since it moved in. New so-called “pedestrian-friendly” street lights were installed a couple of months ago on 4th Street, giving the area a cleaner, more updated look.

Durty Mick Records and Hallway Spectacle

Unfortunately, East Village has also seen the loss of it’s weekly farmers’ market on 1st Street. On the couple of occasions I walked through, there were few vendors selling actual food, and even fewer customers.

I love seeing street art in Long Beach.

In the future, we only have more to look forward to. Groundbreaking on the Art Exchange is planned for this year. When I first moved to Long Beach, I was a little disappointed to see so many closed shops and boarded windows, but it looks like things are turning around. East Village in particular is slowly becoming a unique place to hang out.

Categories: Art, Downtown, East Village

Expo Line Video Highlights New Line Coming to Culver City

February 28, 2011 Leave a comment

I haven’t really been following anything on the new Expo Line that Metro is currently building, so this video they posted today was pretty interesting to me. I like the new line because I’ll be able to get to all of the fun stuff in Exposition park without using the awful Silver Line.
I’m excited for the new line to open later this year, and the expansion to Santa Monica that will come later. Hopefully, this means quicker, easier bus connections in the area. Los Angeles could use more light rail, especially on the Westside.

Follow Expo Line progress on their Facebook Page.

Bike Lane Construction Makes Progress Despite Weather Delays

February 26, 2011 Leave a comment

Here’s a couple of pictures I’ve taken of the construction of the new protected bike lanes being added to 3rd Street and Broadway in downtown Long Beach.

 

The new curbs will reduce both streets to two lanes of vehicle traffic instead of three, and only take away a couple of parking spaces per block. Traffic signals for bikes were installed a while ago. The construction is expected to last until the second week of March.

Drivers living in areas affected by the construction can still obtain a free parking permit for a city parking lot while construction is taking place here: https://www.thepermitstore.com/lb/event/

More info can be found at: http://www.dlba.org/downtownprojects

SR-710 Conversations asks about Transportation in your town

February 20, 2011 1 comment

First off, I apologize for the lengthy, unannounced hiatus I’ve taken. I know I don’t have many followers right now, but nevertheless, I’ve been away for too long.

If you are following Metro’s SR-710 Conversations on Facebook, you probably will have seen this morning’s post:

 

SR-710 Facebook Post 2/20/11

SR-710 Facebook Post 2/20/11

 

Regardless of your opinion on the 710 Gap project itself, this presents an interesting opportunity to tell Metro what can be made better by by explaining what you like about existing transportation in your area.

Since I’m in Long Beach, at the very South end of the 710 Freeway,  I have mixed feelings about the project: Do we really need to be investing more money in an already absurd highway system? Will the benefits of extending the 710 to Pasadena outweigh the cost, environmental impact, and inconvenience of the affected neighborhoods? Who are we really trying to please with this project, local commuters or the trucks coming from the port? Would this money be better spent expanding light rail and freight rail?

To address the actual question SR-710 Conversations poses, there’s a lot to be said about transportation in my area. For the most part, the streets of Long Beach are mapped out on an easy-to-navigate grid system, which makes the time it takes to get from home to the store considerably less than if we had winding suburban roads.

Right now, construction is underway on a project that would add to the bike friendly reputation of Long Beach. We are adding protected bike lanes downtown on Broadway and 3rd Streets, complete with separate stop lights and sidewalk planters, to make bike travel easier and considerably safer. This is in addition to our miles and miles of bike paths, the sharrows in the Belmont Shore neighborhood, and the downtown Bikestation.

Public transit here is something to be proud of. In addition to it’s stellar service, Long Beach Transit operates four bus lines that are free to ride downtown which benefits locals and tourists alike. The Downtown Transit Mall, also under construction, will provide a central commuting hub for the LBT fleet, Metro buses, Metro Rail, Torrance Transit, and LADOT.  I love taking the Metro Blue line in and out of Long Beach whenever I can.

As far as freeways go, I’m somewhat pleased with the way they connect Long Beach to the rest of the Los Angeles/Orange County area. In St. Louis, the freeways cut right through the heart of the city, and in many cases, restrict new development. In fact, there is a large movement in St. Louis to remove and reroute a section of I-70 through downtown, replacing it with a pedestrian and vehicle-friendly “boardwalk.” Traffic in the LA area may be bad, but we also have things like HOV lanes to help alleviate the congestion. Perhaps the traffic problems on the 710 would be partially alleviated if the trucks had a separated express lane like St. Louis has on I-70 North of downtown.

If you live in an area affected by the SR-710 study, you are only doing yourself and your community a favor by responding to their social media outreach.
http://www.metro.net/projects/sr-710-conversations/

Cross-Country Lessons: Biking

December 29, 2010 Leave a comment

Before moving to Long Beach, I was excited to find out that the city was among the most walkable and bike-friendly in the nation. While I don’t currently own a bike, and biking to work isn’t feasible for me, but I believe that streets should be built for everyone: cars, buses, walking pedestrians, and cyclists. “Complete streets” is an important part of fostering the energetic, interconnected communities that make great places to live.

Long Beach is lucky enough to have its own bikestation downtown on the 1st Street Transit Mall. Here, members can park their bikes 24/7, access bike related amenities like air and tune-ups, and get discounts to sales and rentals. The public is also welcome to free parking during business hours.

It was announced earlier this year that St. Louis would be getting it’s own commuter bike station and shop downtown in the 411 building at 10th & Locust.

As the project comes closer to reality, St. Louis is seeing a change from a spread out and auto-dependent region to a more accessible and healthy one. Both the City of St. Louis and St. Louis County have made great strides in the past several years to promote cycling, make roads safer, and develop bicycle trails. This new commuter station will do something very important for cycling in St. Louis: it will show the importance of providing bike-friendly amenities to people other than just cycling enthusiasts and give value to alternative methods of transportation.

I remember reading somewhere last year that in order to make St. Louis more bike-friendly, we need commuters, consumers and neighbors- not cyclists. It should be easy and safe for people to get to work, school, or the store no matter their chosen method of transportation: on a bike, in a car, or on foot.

This is where St. Louis can learn from Long Beach. Based on what I have observed, and October’s disastrous critical mass event, it seems that many people are confused about bicycle laws, and this could be what is driving the generally negative perception the public has toward bikes. If people on bikes knew to stop at stop signs, wait for the light to turn green, stay to the side of the road, and use turn signals, there might not be as many issues or accidents, and most likely, fewer complaints about cyclists. It is the responsibility of both the public and the city to make sure that cycling is safe, effective, and recognized.

If St. Louis’s new Bike station is as successful as it appears it will be, the region will take a giant step in diversifying public amenities and making St. Louis more accessible to all.

Soon, I hope to have a post on the new protected bike lanes in downtown Long Beach.

 

St. Louis Commuter Bikestation on Facebook
Long Beach Bikestation

New Bridges in STL and LBC

November 24, 2010 Leave a comment

Recently, KPCC ran a story on the replacement of the Gerald Desmond Bridge which connects downtown to the Port of Long Beach and Terminal Island. According to the story, the bridge’s replacement will carry an additional lane of traffic, and will most likely be built alongside the current bridge, making traffic adjustments much cleaner.

As it stands, the current structure is worn and crumbling, carrying a great deal of national imported goods from the port up the 710 Freeway.

I use this bridge a few times every week to get to work and from simple observation it looks ready to be replaced. KPCC reported that an estimated 4,000 jobs will be created for the construction of this bridge alone over the next five years.

 

Similarly, construction on St. Louis’s new cable-stayed Mississippi River Bridge (NMRB) has already begun. Currently, the Poplar Street Bridge (PSB) carries three interstate highways, while the Martin Luther King and Eads Bridges carry urban traffic. This new bridge will reroute I-70 to Illinois North of downtown St. Louis, while the PSB will continue to carry traffic for I-55 and I-64. The new bridge will not replace any of the existing bridges that connect St. Louis to Illinois, but is being built to alleviate the growing traffic problem.

Now that I’ve been commuting in LA County, it’s easy to see why it is important to stay ahead of the anticipated traffic flow. The question must be asked however, whether the projected job creation will be worth the projected cost.

As someone who loves urban architecture, the NMRB looks like it will be a gorgeous addition to the St. Louis metro landscape. The choice to build a cable-stayed bridge sets it apart aesthetically from much of the region, and may bring national notoriety. I’m excited to see what the new bridge in Long Beach will look like. If you drive past the current GD Bridge along the 47, across Terminal Island, you will come to the iconic Vincent Thomas Bridge, my favorite part of my commute.

 

Sources: New Mississippi River Bridge Project, KPCC