Lincoln Park, located south of the new Long Beach Public Library at Ocean Boulevard and Pacific Avenue, IS Long Beach. Originally called Pacific Park, it opened in 1888 on Long Beach’s original townsite. It has grown and changed alongside the city itself; The brand-new version of the park, which opened last month, reflects the diversity, inclusion, and invention Long Beach has become known for.
The park’s original statue of Abraham Lincoln, dedicated in 1915 (Pacific Park was officially renamed Lincoln Park in 1920), has been moved to the northwest corner of the new park. Honest Abe now gazes over the new layout, which packs a lot into its 4.85 acres — including a giant, selfie-friendly Lincoln penny. It is a colorful,contemporary park with a variety of attractions for people of all abilities.
Marilyn Surakus, Project Management Bureau Manager for the Long Beach Department of Public Works, provided us with this guided tour of the new park, which is accessible through sidewalks, stairs, and ramps:
In the Northeast corner of the park, next to Pacific Avenue, are two dog parks — for large and small dogs — separated by a ramp that leads down into the parking garage. South of that is a path going straight through the park that will lead to the new Long Beach Civic Center in the future, once the old Civic Center is completely torn down and a new residential development adjoining the park is built. The path will connect the Civic Center, Transit Center, park, and library for pedestrians and cyclists.
South of the path is the skatepark, which attracted skaters from all over town the day it opened. Continuing to the park’s southeast corner you’ll find the giant penny (it’s hard to miss) as well as the fitness equipment loop that wraps around the smaller southern lawn and over to the basketball court in the park’s southwest corner. Nearby are public restrooms and water fountains.
In the lower center of the park, protected by other elements of the park that wrap around it, is a tidepools-themed playground. Surrounded by hills and dips covered in different shades of blue turf, the playground features equipment that is accessible for kids of all abilities, including a merry-go-round that can be accessed in a stroller or wheelchair. There are slides, ropes, and bars which can provide endless entertainment for children.
Just north of the playground are giant swings made from pieces of recycled pipe. The swings are large enough for someone to sit in with a book or laptop. They also glow at night with bright LED lights (Editor’s note: The swings, closed temporarily, have been removed and are being re-tooled to assure sturdiness and durability).
Moving up to the northwest corner of the park, visitors encounter the original statue of President Lincoln from the old park. It is situated in a path that leads through the “Discovery Area,” adjacent to the children’s section of the library, which features a big variety of plants and is intended to create a quieter space within the park.
The park has much potential for activations in its different areas. The back porch of the library has room to act as a stage with the audience seated on the lawn. There is also room for vendors to bring small tents or carts in for events, such as “Celebrate Downtown” on March 24. The lawn could host fitness classes, book clubs, or picnics.
As spring arrives, COVID restrictions ease, and live events return to Downtown, pay a visit to the new Lincoln Park. Bring a book, a skateboard, a frisbee, or just a friendly attitude as you enjoy the newest evolution of Downtown’s oldest communal space.