The red brick streets were born through the vision of State Senator William H. Reynolds who hired Charles Leavitt, Landscape Engineer, to design a comprehensive street design plan to relate to the benefits of the natural environment: wide landscaped boulevards from the ocean to the bay which would provide cool breezes. The streets from one end of Long Beach to the other would be paved with red brick for aesthetics and drainage purposes. Today unfortunately, almost all the red brick streets have disappeared except for the 100, 200, 300 and 600 blocks of West Penn. These streets were officially landmarked by the City of Long Beach in 2007.
About Our Grants
By Douglas Sheer
If you’ve travelled around the country it becomes quite clear that most communities take great pride in their local history. Long Beach is no exception to this rule and it was with that in mind that the Long Beach Island Landmarks Association applied for a grant from Nassau County to educate the public about our city’s wonderful history. When Nassau County legislator Denise Ford made the LBILA aware of grant money our organization didn’t hesitate to brainstorm about how we could best use any funds that we might be awarded. It was decided that historic signage would go a long way in presenting the history of Long Beach for its many residents and visitors. Which features of Long Beach would be selected for our historic markers was our next challenge.
In the middle of Long Beach is the LIRR Station, which turned 100 in 2009, and which many people may not know or recall, was once hidden behind unattractive storefronts. Contacting the LIRR public relations department helped us chronicle the station’s past and it was decided that an historic sign was a fitting tribute to such a building as well as an item of interest to those arriving or leaving the city by rail. With the help of the Public Works Department a location was selected and soon we had our sign in place.
The grant also allowed us to place additional signage on the bridges of each of the three canals. A fourth canal is on the border of Long Beach and Lido and is not visible to the public as it sits behind private homes. Built in 1925, few people know that each of the canals is named after a famous golfer: Sarazen, Ouimet, Hagen, and Jones. Plaques are now in place on each of the bridges to commemorate this section of Long Beach.
A more descriptive sign was also purchased for placement in front of the old West End Firehouse on the NW corner of Alabama and West Beech. We were lucky enough to have several old photographs of the firehouse and those were incorporated into the sign along with text about the history of this landmark. The last sign we were able to purchase was the one that stood on the boardwalk at the end of National Blvd. So much of Long Beach history has revolved around the boardwalk and the changes it has undergone since its construction in 1907. From elephants used to bring publicity to a budding Long Beach, to hotels, restaurants, amusement rides, Arts and Crafts festivals, and running races, the boardwalk has changed dramatically over its 100+ year history. There were few landmarks in Long Beach that were more in need of historic recognition than our boardwalk by the sea. Little did we know that another chapter in the history of the boardwalk would unfold shortly after the sign was erected. Luck had it that our sign did not suffer any damage when Sandy swept through the city.
The destruction of much of the boardwalk and the decision to build a new one begs for additional signage. Lastly, a second grant allowed the LBILA to purchase a kiosk for Kennedy Plaza where visitors can read of the historic sites in Long Beach and explore our city with the help of a map showing the location of historic places along the Heritage Trail. Our city has a rich history that is filled with stories that should be shared with those who live, work or come to enjoy our city by the sea.
Check out our newest edition on the Long Beach Boardwalk at National Blvd.