While poring over eight-plus decades of DLBA Newsletters, one can’t help but see the ongoing progress and transformation of Downtown Long Beach, along with reminders that today’s DLBA is dealing with many of the same challenges as its predecessors over the years. As DLBA acknowledges the anniversary of its founding 85 years ago, here are a handful of newsletter highlights culled from our files that paint a vivid picture of DLBA and Downtown evolving together:
1940: The end of May marks “Know Your City” Week, culminating in an event staged at the Municipal Auditorium by the City Manager and various Department Heads. “Retailers are urged to visit this exhibit and become better acquainted with the functions of their various Municipal Departments,” reads the invitation from the Long Beach Retail Associates (LBRA) — DLBA’s first iteration.
1942: Ike Sukman and Jim Dowling, Co-Chairs of LBRA, are also Members of the Wartime Activities Committee. They arrange for a two-day display in Downtown of a two-man submarine captured at Pearl Harbor in December of the previous year. The sub is on display for only eight hours, but over $200,000 in war stamps and bonds are sold to local residents who show up to inspect it.
1945: At the request of the Mayor’s Housing Committee, LBRA prints 50,000 return postcards with the purpose of finding all available vacancies for returning military service people and their families. It includes an admonition for retail employees: “These homeless veterans are YOUR CUSTOMERS. Aside from the patriotic duty of helping them, you have a direct interest in their immediate and future welfare. PLEASE DON’T FAIL THEM.”
1953: Downtown events slated for February include Family Shopping Night, National Table Tennis Week, and concerts at the Municipal Auditorium by the Lawrence Welk and Fred Waring Orchestras.
1955: In a letter to Downtown retailers, LBRA Manager Fredrick A. Sykes comments on the changing face of selling: “With television and radio, selling has become more and more important. The old days of bargaining and bartering are obsolete and old-fashioned. To keep everybody supplied with what they want and need in these modern times, there must be a medium where everyone will be satisfied.”
1961: LBRA becomes Downtown Long Beach Associates (DLBA). A highlight of the organization’s year is promoting “Good Ol’ Days,” a Downtown shopping event featuring a turn-of-the-century costume contest, a performance by the Long Beach City College Choir, and a highly amusing hog calling contest.
1965: The DLBA Bulletin includes the City’s announcement of a $12 million dredging project, financed by Tideland Oil revenues, which will extend the Downtown Waterfront 250 feet seaward. This sets the stage for the creation of Shoreline Drive, parking space for several thousand cars, and a new marina.
1971: The DLBA Annual Meeting on December 7 aboard the Queen Mary features a tribute to a very special guest; entertainer Milton Berle, who joins a list of past honorees which includes Bob Hope, John Wayne, and Cecil B. DeMille.
1973: Long Beach City Council empowers DLBA to manage the Downtown Parking Improvement Area (DPIA).
1979: The September issue of the DLBA News Bulletin includes a list of gasoline saving tips for motorists which includes such suggestions as “Easy Does It — Accelerate Slowly, Drive Steady,” “Check Your Tires,” and “Think Like You’re Almost Out Of Gas.”
1981: “Home Savings & Loan Kicks Off Downtown Rebirth,” reads the page one headline of the March DLBA News Bulletin. Mayor Eunice Sato, who has presided over many Groundbreaking and Grand Opening ceremonies over the last few years, cuts the ribbon of Home Savings’ new office at the corner of Long Beach Boulevard and Ocean Boulevard.
1998: DLBA named to manage funding for the newly created Downtown Property-Based Improvement District (PBID).
2003: Long Beach City Council votes unanimously (9-0) to ratify renewal of the Downtown PBID for 10 years.
2008: Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. keynotes DLBA’s fifth annual State of The Downtown luncheon (now Celebrate Downtown) at the Westin Hotel with the theme “Planting Seeds of Environmental Change.”
2012: City Council votes unanimously (7-0) to ratify renewal of the Downtown PBID. More than 75% of Downtown stakeholders voted in support of continuing the PBID for another 10-year term.
2016: Downtown Long Beach Associates rebrands itself and changes name to “Alliance” to better reflect community ties; adopts 2020 strategic plan.
These are just a few highlights from DLBA’s eight-plus decades in the fabric of Downtown. The common thread over the years is DLBA’s commitment to creating events, initiatives, and marketing efforts intended to serve the Downtown community. To this day, DLBA continues to adapt in order to meet the challenges of our time.