Fire & Air In the Shadow of LA - Atlas Obscura

Long Beach, California

Fire & Air In the Shadow of LA

Explore the hidden histories of firefighting and aviation in Long Beach.

Long Beach may often find itself standing in the shadows of its neighbor to the north, Los Angeles—but it's actually a Top 40 city in the U.S., dwarfing Atlanta, Miami, and St. Louis in population size.

And it's got plenty of history to its credit. The first transcontinental flight landed in Long Beach from New York in 1911—though, at the time, their only "airport" was the huge beach, where pilots landed their planes. And when an official airport finally was established in 1923 (as "Daugherty Field"), it became the first municipal airport to serve Southern California. 

Join Field Agent Sandi Hemmerlein at Long Beach Airport as we explore the South Bay's aviation history, including aerospace manufacturing dating back to the Douglas Aircraft Company (and, most recently, Boeing).

We'll start by investigating its current operations, including an onsite fire and rescue facility. As we head to the airport's historic exhibit, we'll walk through the 1941 terminal building and admire its Streamline Moderne architecture and WPA-era ceramic mosaic floor tiles. During our time in this Cultural Historic Landmark, we'll learn about Long Beach's aviation legends like Amelia Earhart as well as the World War II heroes of Long Beach. And before we leave, we'll catch a peek at its main runway, which is so big that it can handle the largest aircraft in the world.

Following our airport tour, we'll head over to the Long Beach Firefighter's Museum for a private tour, arranged exclusively for the Los Angeles Obscura Society, and led by museum president and former firefighter, Glen Goodrich. In the 1925 building known as "Old Station 10," we'll peruse a collection of artifacts that shows the evolution of firefighting in the City of Long Beach, including vehicles used by the Long Beach Fire Department dating back to 1901.

Notes for this adventure:

- Extreme weather, disasters, or security issues may prompt cancellation.

- This excursion takes place in Long Beach, 25 miles south of Downtown LA. Please allow for travel time.

- Ages 12 and up. All minors must be accompanied by an adult.

- There are two stops on this excursion. We will meet at Long Beach Airport and caravan in our own cars to the Long Beach Firefighter's Museum.

- Validation for free parking will be provided at the airport (exact parking instructions and meeting location will be sent to ticket holders).

- Photography encouraged--bring your cameras!

- Airport tour can vary depending on the status of daily operations.

- Wear good shoes for standing and walking for at least 90 minutes on asphalt and uneven surfaces.

- Wear sun protection and bring water, as there's no shade in the initial outdoor portion of our tour.

- No restrooms are available in the first part of the tour, so go before you go!

Advance Ticket Sales Only. No Refunds.

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