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A Tour of Long Beach’s History and Architecture

September 18th, 2017 Local Tips
A Tour of Long Beach’s History and Architecture

The appeal of Long Beach, NY, centers on its coast and boardwalk. Little do many visitors know that this beach town has a rich past whose traces can be found along its historical streets. Let’s go back to the year 1880. Although some houses had been built around the 1860, the city became known thanks to the construction of the Long Beach Hotel – the largest seaside resort back then. Around the same time, the Long Island Rail Road began stimulating the city’s conversion into a sophisticated and modern beach destination.


In the early 1900s, the city was further developed by the construction of the now iconic boardwalk and various entertainment venues (casinos, theaters, bath houses, recreational centers and more hotels, including the Nassau Hotel). Today, a historic marker giving a brief account of the boardwalk’s history is located on the boardwalk at National Blvd – just across from the Allegria Hotel.


The mastermind behind this project was William Reynolds, a former state senator, who envisioned a planned community of holiday homes for the wealthy. Long Beach’s location has always contributed to its success as a resort town, the temperature is always warmer in winter and cooler in summer than New York City. Reynolds increased the city’s appeal by building long boulevards from the coast to the bay. These streets were covered in red brick and some can still be seen today along W Penn St between National Blvd and Lafayette Blvd (100, 200 and 300 blocks), and between Lindell Blvd and Grand Blvd (600 block). This area is known as the Historic Red Brick District.  


Between the 1920s and 1930s, the city thrived as a vacation spot – not unlike today – and housing grew with the construction of bridges and canals that allowed residents to dock their boats. These canals dubbed as the “Canals of Lido” also sought to give the impression of Venice. Do you think they achieved it? Take a short walk to E Pine St to see the Sarazen, Ouimet, Hagen and Bob Jones canals that still line the streets.


The architectural heritage of Long Beach, NY, boasts a collection of homes from different styles: Georgian, Mediterranean, Mission and Moorish Revival, Queen Anne, Spanish Colonial Revival and Tudor. To see the jewels that are still standing perfectly preserved, take a stroll around W Penn St, W Walnut St, W Beech St, W Pine St and E Olive St. You will notice that these locations are just behind the Allegria Hotel!


The Long Beach Historical & Preservation Society manages a museum featuring exhibitions on the city’s past and organizes educational talks and events year round. Take a look at the detailed descriptions of Long Beach’s architectural heritage.