March 9th in Seal Beach History

On this date in 1931, a letter from Seal Beach Mayor Frank Wilson was read to Los Angeles Board of Supervisors explaining the Seal Beach city council’s opposition to the Flood Control District’s plans to improve the San Gabriel River channel by straightening it and adding two jetties to catching drifting sands to build more of a beachfront.

In the letter, Mayor Wilson said:

“The residents of Seal Beach for many years have visualized a sixty-foot vehicular bridge across the Alamitos Bay channel and the City Council, as a whole, is now reluctant to commit any official act the would in any wise jeopardize the rights of the municipality.

The Council feels that the plans for San Gabriel flood control should not be approved as requested by Engineer Eaton until some provision has been made for such a vehicular bridge.”

In other words, if you want your flood control, give us a bridge.

There were other concerns expressed in the letter — care for the cooling waters from the Los Angeles Gas and Electric Corporation’s steam plant, a permanent right of access to any beach formed by the east jetty, and the need for the two jetties to be constructed at equal lengths.

But the most important idea was Seal Beach needed an Ocean Avenue bridge for automobiles replacing the rail bridge used exclusively for Pacific Electric red car trolleys.

Negotiations continued until an agreement was reached to include an Ocean Avenue bridge in the project in July 1931, and Seal Beach approved the project. The Los Angeles Gas and Electric Corporation granted a right-of-way for the bridge in September, and the War Department approved the plans in October 1931.

Construction began in early 1932, and the completed bridge was opened to traffic on October 20, 1932. Mrs. Phillip A. Stanton cut the string.

And that, my friends, is how Seal Beach got itself a bridge in a short nineteen and a half months.

– Michael Dobkins

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2 Responses to March 9th in Seal Beach History

  1. Garry Herron says:

    Interesting story. The 1932 photo of the bridge under construction appears to show it connecting directly with the Peninsula; am I getting that right? Also, the earlier photo apparently taken from an airplane shows the power plant and Seal Beach to the right, but the river channel is not obvious. In any case, it’s amazing to see how the coastline and beaches have changed over the last several decades.


    • Michael Dobkins says:


      Thank you so much for commenting on that. I mislabeled that photo. It should have read 1/12/33, not 1/12/32. I’ve corrected it now, but it probably would have been months before I caught it without your question. Thanks again, and sorry for the confusion.

      So that “earlier photo” is actually from less than three months after the bridge opened. In that photo you can see tracks have been laid on the jetties to transporting materials to the end for expansion. The straightened channel came later and can be clearly seen in a 1936 aerial photo.

      An interesting point I didn’t put in the post because it would have lead to a complicated explanation of changed Long Beach street names, but one factor weighing in favor of the Ocean Avenue bridge being built during the negotiations is that it would have served as an additional motor route into Long Beach for crowds attending the 1932 Olympic rowing competition in Long Beach.

      I’m probably going to add that info up top at some stage, but I’ll leave it as is for now.

      Take care,
      Mike Dobkins


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