Esotouric Day Trip: Long Beach, alive and dead

On a warm April day, the Esotouric gang set off for points south, on a journey to explore some of the architectural and sculptural gems of our near-neighbor, Long Beach. Below, we’ll share a few things spied along the way. Check out the full photo set here.

Our first stop was Sunnyside Cemetery in Long Beach. Note that this is not the Forest Lawn-run Sunnyside in Long Beach where we recently gave a free LAVA tour, but an older and more modest graveyard in the shadow of the oil fields. It is home to some handome carved monuments…

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… and also to an extraordinary sculpted grave honoring local physician Albert Rhea, killed when his bicycle collided with a streetcar in 1907, and his family.

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When Ansel Adams photographed the tomb in 1939, he framed it with oil derricks; oil is still drilled on the hill behind, but not so dramatically. Our beloved LAPL owns several prints from the same photo session.

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The sculpture, known as The Angel of Sorrows, is remarkable. It is a very pretty thing in person, but when photographed it is astonishingly beautiful. We found ourselves moving from place to place, trying to take a photo that wasn’t stunning. We failed.

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Later in the day, we strolled the waterfront, pausing to marvel at the gothic pile that is the Villa Riviera…

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and the sylvan sprawl of the El Cordova Apartments, with its marzipan Spanish balconies…

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and a fine little WPA library in the Spanish style.

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Saddest was our stop at the former Acres of Books, a landmark of the west coat literary scene for nearly a century, snatched away by the since-dissolved Long Beach redevelopment agency for a dumb project that remains, and shall remain, unbuilt.

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But even in death, AoB has an undeniable gravitas.

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These day trips exploring the near unfamiliar remind us how energizing it is to get out of our everyday habits and go out in search of something new. Stay tuned for more Esotouric day trips, and in the mean time, we hope you’ll veer off your own regular routes and see what unexpected gems you’ll find there.