Bikes, Bungalows and History Buffs: A bike route through history – An article by Gretchen Swanson

When I moved to Long Beach in 1977 the city was a bike desert! I saw only packs of skinny guys in lycra riding on PCH on the weekends. And of course tikes on trikes. Now bikes are a serious form of recreation, transportation, and a perfect way to see local history.
On a quiet Sunday morning I donned my helmet, forgot my sun screen and drank some pre-ride water. It was comfortable knowing I was just minutes away from a great bathroom (my own)! I had stopped in at the 2 Gurls Bike Shop at the end of my block earlier in the week for some motivation. Bikes are now big business in Rose Park! We have two other bike shops on Retro Row (see below). So in our neighborhood you can buy, rent or get your old bike fixed within walking distance.

I started at Coronado and 4th (southeast corner of Rose Park South Historic District) and continued west on 4th Street towards Retro Row. I had to restrain myself from stopping at all the coffee and cake places! Today the ride is about history.
The corner of Fourth and Junipero is important because it was ground zero for the bike movement in our area. Portfolio coffee shop and its owner Kerstin Kanstainer are key to what we now know as the Bike Friendly City of LB. The Portfolio hosts a monthly Bicycle club called “Cyclone Coasters” on the first Sunday of every month at 9:30am and the ride leaves at 10:30am. All age groups welcome. Portfolio also hosts the new Maritime Bike messenger movement. Bicycle deliveries are the new rage and the crew has chosen to make Portfolio their meeting spot.

Sunday morning is a good day to ride the neighborhood, Super Bowl Sunday might be better – fewer cars. I go north on Junipero past the Luther Burbank School(1) and remember how much fun it was to help with the mosaic mural that is on the school wall. Past the school I turn left on 6th St then right on Dawson at City of the Cross Church and another left on 6th St passing 2112 6th St.- the Castle Apartment (2) building – turrets included! Continue turning left on St. Louis I can see a series of craftsmen and mid-century style homes. Then, The Sedona Apartments (3) on the right.


Back to 4th Street turning right I go by my favorite ‘department store’ the Assistance League Thrift Shop and then The Art Theatre (4), the oldest operating single screen movie house in Long Beach. Take a left at Cherry, and a left again two blocks south onto Bermuda Ave. to Junipero to take a right and a left onto 3rd St along the south side of Carroll Park. Carroll Park – a historic district – designed to keep traffic away from the residences. Check it out you’ll find green spaces and curving streets. Back on 3rd St. – now in Bluff Heights Historic District – make a left on Molino Ave up to 4th St. Make a right on 4th St. and a left soon after on Ohio Ave; now you are back in RP South. Take Ohio all the way to 7th – turn right walk your bike where you will immediately come upon a historic Queen Anne House (5). The house built in 1905, with its early Victorian architecture, was typical of the larger homes along 7th Street. Continue straight and turn right onto Temple St. Make a left on Theresa and another left on Orizaba. On 7th and Orizaba you will see The Castle Croydon (6), a blend of Medieval and Colonial Revival architecture. Look north! You’ll see Rose Park’s iconic gazebo. A great piece of period architecture that can be seen as a key vantage points through the neighborhood.


Take the alley between Orizaba and Obispo Ave, turn left onto to Obispo which allows you to use the intersection to cross E7th safely. Ride to 8th St and make a left. You will see Rose Park and the Gazebo (7). The park is the heart of the Rose Park Historic District, most recently the scene of RPNA’s Annual Movie Night. I continue on 8th St then make a left on Gladys and ride about a block reaching The Skinny House (8) at 708, a three-story English Tudor Revival. I go north to 8th St. take a left and ride to Junipero Ave. I turned left onto Junipero reaching E7th. This intersection has seen recent remodel of a major mid-century retail structure (9). Just across from the internationally famous and soon to be historic Haskell’s The Prospector (10)where I’ve had some adult beverages.

Frankly this was more fun than I would have thought!

The Upshot:
Positives: Tons of places for coffee and baked goods, lots of bike racks, and all those historic buildings!
Irks: Wide side view mirrors and trucks
Best Streets: 6th; 8th; Theresa and alleys for the adventuresome.
Definite don’ts; Don’t ride on E7th!
2 Gurls Bike Shop (inside 404 Bike Sales & Rentals): 3329 E 4th St
Biker Mania : 1906 4th St
West River Cycles: 2705 E 4th St