Members of the press were recently treated to a preview of the historic Rancho Los Alamitos, in Long Beach. The public re-opening will take place on June 10 although special events will afford interested parties an opportunity to enjoy the site before then.
Rancho Los Alamitos is a deeply significant historic site – home to a 19th century homestead that today offers a 7.5 acre oasis in the middle of a densely-populated urban area -- and the ancestral birthplace of Los Angeles’s Tongva people. For most of its existence it belonged to the prominent Bixby family before it was donated to the City of Long Beach in 1968, when it was apparently converted into a corny tourist trap. In 1986, the Rancho Los Alamitos Foundation took over and this grand re-opening is the culmination of a quarter century’s worth of their restoration efforts.
Under Long Beach’s watch, the barn area buildings on the site were rearranged in a semi-circle, effectively turning the once-proud site into a Harbor Area answer to South Dakota’s 1800 Town. A “Wisteria Walk” was added. Grass was put in and visitors got to make candles. It may’ve all been good fun to the grade-schoolers who visited at the time but it probably wasn’t the ranch’s most dignified era. When the Rancho Los Alamitos Foundation took over and pursued a different approach, there were predictably grumblings. This is SoCal, after all, and Southern Californians are very serious about kitsch.