Welcome to auspicious #13 in a series of 3-D explorable tours of off-the-beaten-path Southern California spaces, created by Craig Sauer using cutting-edge Matterport technology.
If you’ve been paying attention, you know that we love tunnels, especially ones that are difficult to access. One of the most elusive L.A.-area passages is Jergins Tunnel in Long Beach, which once conveyed pedestrians beneath busy Ocean Boulevard from the Jergins Trust Building to beach or The Pike amusement zone, a great place to get a tattoo.
But times changed, and by the early 1980s, the Pike was shuttered, mummified outlaw Elmer McCurdy buried, and A.T. Jergins’ once elegant office tower was a white elephant the city longed to butcher to clear space for speculative new towers. Although it had seen countless visitors, the mosaic tiled tunnel looked much the same when it was boarded up as when it had opened, circa 1928. And despite the efforts of preservationists, the Jergins Trust Building met the wrecking ball. 35 years later, the site is a vacant lot, with boosters still touting a tower to come.
You can get a hint of how beautiful the lost building was by visiting a pair of colossal terracotta columns that were salvaged and installed at the Willmore Heritage Garden near the L.A. River and 710. But it’s much harder to get inside the tunnel.
Lana Del Rey likes hidden time capsule tunnels, too. And she’s named her new album and its first single in honor of this one. Thanks to Craig Sauer’s intrepid scanning, you can make a virtual visit to this magical space, as Lana sings about it. Just click the blue dot by the entrance that opens the YouTube link in another window, press play and stream “Did You Know That There’s A Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd” while exploring this hidden landmark.
And while you’re down there, where only a few have found the door, close your eyes and make a wish, that beautiful, useful old places like this one can be preserved and repurposed for new generations to enjoy, and not destroyed by short sighted planners who only see the dollar signs of new construction, and not the priceless treasure worth protecting that is our past.