Thursday, April 28, 2011

We're looking for Navy stories

The Long Beach Naval Shipyard and Naval Station were a hugely important part of the Port of Long Beach for over 50 years, and the Navy has been in Long Beach for much longer. If you have stories or photos of Navy days here in Long Beach, we'd love to hear from you.

We've been looking through our archive and, although we have quite a few pictures of the base, the shipyards and ships, we don't have too many pictures of the people who kept the Shipyard and Naval Station going, so we're especially looking for anecdotes and pictures that would share the story of those people.

You can use our Share Your Memories form to send us a story or picture.

Herman the German

Herman the German lifts the Spruce Goose in 1980.

An icon on the Port of Long Beach's skyline for nearly 50 years was the floating crane YD-171, located at the Long Beach Naval Shipyard. The crane was, of course, much better known by its unofficial nickname, "Herman the German" and it made its home at the Port from 1948 until 1996.

The nearly 375-foot-tall crane came by its "German" moniker honestly; it was one of three giant floating cranes seized by the Allies from the Nazis at the end of World War II. The Russians and British each had sister cranes but were unable to transport them successfully to their home countries.

The Navy carefully dismantled Herman and shipped it to Long Beach via the Panama Canal, reconstructing it in Long Beach at a cost of $350,000 (about $3.2 million today). The crane was erected here in January 1948 and after extensive testing put into operation on New Year's Eve, 1948.

Some interesting facts about YD-171: its hoisting capacity was 386 tons (but tests took that up to 425 tons), it used 11,681 feet of wire rope and its three 900-horsepower diesel engines at full load used 144 gallons of fuel per hour at 100% load.

Herman lifted ships, parts of ships, and even other cranes, but one of its most notable lifting jobs was in the early 1980s, when the crane was used to lift the Spruce Goose in preparation for its move to the dome next to the Queen Mary.

After the closure of the Naval Shipyard in the early 1990s, it was decided that Herman was no longer needed at the Port of Long Beach (its diesel emissions were a concern as well) and the crane was shipped in 1996 to Panama, where it is still in operation at the Canal. No longer "Herman the German," now the crane is "la Titan."

Read an article on Herman's move from Long Beach to Panama

Herman the German photo gallery

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Wedding bells at Harbor Plaza

The wedding of Jo and David Murray, November 19, 1983.

The Port of Long Beach Administration Building has been the backdrop for a variety of unique events, from international trade festivals to beauty contests and more. One of the most memorable was the wedding of David and Jo Murray back in 1983. Jo Murray sent us some photos and her memories of this unique occasion:

"My husband, David, and I were married in front of 925 Harbor Plaza Drive on November 19, 1983.

"We tied the knot at the Port (in the same spot where the international beauties brought water to the reflection pool [at the dedication of the building in 1959 - Ed.])  and held our reception in the grassy area by the huge anchor - complete with a mariachi band that could play "Hava Nagila"!

"Afterwards, we made our escape via a yacht that was docked by the Reef Restaurant.

"Today we have been married 27 years and live in Long Beach, volunteering for sailing regattas, like Congressional Cup, sponsored by the Port of Long Beach."

The Murrays' honeymoon getaway yacht,
docked near The Reef restaurant.
We asked Jo why she and her husband picked the Port for their wedding:

"We love the ocean, cruise ships, and sailing. I worked my way through college as a tour guide at the Queen Mary - and I loved the rooftop view at the Port Building - so that was my wish - but the Port felt it was too risky to have a wedding on the roof - so they offered the front area. It turned out wonderful- with the band playing by the huge anchor and all.

"While I was a guide, I started collecting house flags from various shipping companies. Many times the captains and officers from cargo ships that were in the Port would visit the Queen Mary tour and invite tour guides to visit their ships and join them for a meal aboard. As a memento of our tour and dinner on these cargo ships, often the captain would present us with a house flag.  I grew to feel a special bond with the Port and the ships that visited.

"Being married there was special - we didn't want to leave the ceremony in a limo - we wanted to leave by sailing into the sunset - and a Port wedding made that possible. The Port is more to us than commerce for our community - it has a special romantic, adventuresome place in our hearts."

To see more photos from the Murrays' wedding, click here.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Setting the pace at the Grand Prix

The Port's pace car at the 2010 Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.

The 2011 Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach is this weekend and the Port of Long Beach is once again helping sponsor the event. The Port provides part of the race's visual backdrop as cars hurtle along Shoreline Drive at high speed, which they've been doing since 1975.

An old Port of Long Beach sponsor logo can be seen
in this shot from a 1980s Grand Prix.
One highly visible aspect of the Port's involvement with the race started in 2008, when the Port became an Official Pace Car Sponsor. That year, our hybrid Toyota Prius helped set the pace in five races. The Port has also participated in the Grand Prix's popular Lifestyle Expo, which highlights electric, bio-diesel and hydrogen cars, along with other aspects of green technology.

When it's not race time, the Port's green (in both senses) pace car can be seen around town at many community events, showcasing the Port's Green Port Policy and our commitment to environmental initiatives.

The Belmont Shore Christmas Parade is just one event where you'll
find the Port of Long Beach's iconic green pace car.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Pierpoint Landing's animal attraction

Contestants in the International Beauty Congress stop by the sea lion pool at Pierpoint Landing, 1960.
We came across some more photos of Pierpoint Landing in our archives last week, and coincidentally a reader wrote in, almost at the same time we were uploading the photos, to share her memories of the sportfishing mecca's famous animal attraction:

"I am a 52-year-old mother who has the fondest memories of Pierpoint Landing, especially the seal tank. My father would take our whole family for crab and smoked fish, while I could not wait to get there to feed MY seals!

"My father would give me change so I could buy a bag of anchovies to feed MY seals. This would go on all day until it started getting dark. To this day when I see a seal it reminds me of one of the best times of my life.

"Now that I am a parent to a 25-year-old and at 26-year-old I share this story with them. They now go to [the new] Pierpoint Landing often for the sport fishing!

"Thank you for having this forum to express my happy memories. I thought I was the only person that knew about the seals...OH YEH "MY SEALS".....THANK YOU!"

-- Elizabeth Gomez

More pics of Pierpoint Landing

Our original post on Pierpoint Landing

Pierpoint Landing circa 1964.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Fond memories of The Reef's early days

View from The Reef's patio, 1964, includes the Cyclone Racer and Municipal Auditorium.
Those drinks don't look bad either.
A reader sent in these reminiscences about the Reef Restaurant, which opened on what was then Pier A in August 1958. The Polynesian-themed restaurant was the brainchild of LA-area restaurateur David Tallichet and George Millay, who went on to create Sea World. The restaurant burned in the mid-'70s but was then rebuilt and is still in operation today.

Here's what one of our readers had to say about his time working at The Reef:

"My first job in California was at the wonderful 'Reef Restaurant' -- one of the first destination restaurants in those days. The place was so busy that on Friday and Saturday nights there was always a two-hour wait to get in. The decor was island and we looked more like an island than if you were there.

"I worked there as a waiter, head waiter and asst. manager. The manager in those days was Ralph Fulton and I will say he was the best. He knew everybody in town and then some.

"People drove a hundred miles to have dinner and see the view of Long Beach all the way down the coast to Newport. I moved on but will never forget my time in the Port of Long Beach."
-- Philip Compton

Photos of the original Reef are practically non-existent in the Port's archives and online as well; you can see some more pictures in our photo gallery, but we'd love to see and share some more images, particularly of the building's interior -- please pass them along if you have any.

You can find some more information and menus from the Reef's early days at the Tiki Central site.

Or find out more about the Reef Restaurant today.