Bluff Park

Bluff Park is between Ocean Avenue and the Pacific Ocean and is one of the most scenic green spaces in Long Beach. This 13-acre linear park comprises only palms trees and vibrant green grass, but no more is needed with the ocean vista available. Couple the long-distance view of Junipero Beach with the gentle sea breeze that is nearly always present, and this park offers serenity on any sunny day. Bluff Park was an active military space in World War II. Interpretive information stands today where gun batteries were once installed, and the Lone Sailor Memorial statue commemorates the naval history of the city. On the north end of Bluff Park, the Long Beach Museum of Art offers cultural works to pair with the surrounding natural beauty. And for those interested in exploring the beach, several stairways and graded ramps lead down to the sand.

This is one of the most beautiful parks in Long Beach with a view of the Pacific Ocean and gentle sea breezes. Joggers, strollers and dog walkers are among those who visit this park frequently. The Alamitos Land Co. gave the 11.16-acre park area to the City in 1919. In 1950, the City purchased the 0.30-acre block south of Ocean Blvd between 19th and 20th Place at the west end of the site from the U.S. government. The site contained the historic Elizabeth Milbank Anderson house, used by the Navy during World War II as a Chief Petty Officer’s club. It was remodeled in 1954 to house the Long Beach Museum of Art. In 1984, the City acquired the final 3.6 acres of Bluff Park from Redondo Avenue to 36th Place at the park’s east end. This addition was the result of an inverse condemnation lawsuit against the City for not allowing the owner to construct a two-tower high-rise condominium complex on the site in the 1970’s. The property owner and City attempted to negotiate a price for the site, but negotiations fell through, and after years of court battles, the owner was awarded his price, court costs and years of value appreciation. Bluff Park was originally landscaped by the Pacific Electric Railway as a condition of the being granted the right-of-way for the rail line down Ocean Boulevard. The Army occupied Bluff Park during World War II, equipping it with anti-aircraft guns and limiting citizen access. It wasn’t until September 1946, that Army structures were removed; the high board fence on Ocean Blvd demolished and sidewalks reconstructed. In June 1955, the gun emplacement was removed and palm trees were planted.

Bluff Park is a passive park with limited improvements other than plants and trees. The Elizabeth Milbank Anderson House is used as the Long Beach Museum of Art, and is leased to and operated by the Long Beach Art Museum Foundation. In 2000, the carriage house was moved from 19th Place to the bluff edge, and a museum gallery building constructed on its former site. On December 11, 2004, the Lone Sailor Memorial was erected in the park. Bricks with donor names, mostly honoring naval veterans, created a plaza around the 7-foot tall sailor who is gazing out to sea with his duffle. These have been very popular and an enlargement of the plaza as a Partner’s of Parks fundraiser is anticipated. The dedication of memorial benches overlooking the ocean has also been a very popular addition to Bluff Park in the last decade preceding 2009. The ocean bluff between the beach and the top of Bluff Park is part of the park. The area has inconsistent landscaping due to irrigation line breaks on eroding surfaces, spot planting plans and various erosion mitigation structures from the 1980’s and earlier. A plan to mitigate erosion was developed in 2000 through terracing, pressure sensitive irrigation systems and native plantings. This was only implemented in three demonstration areas, which failed to solve problems, but provided information for how to proceed. In 2009, plans to restore beauty and habitat to the bluff are being developed.

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