May 27th in Seal Beach History

On this date in 1926, the Santa Ana Register published this gushingly enthusiastic profile of Seal Beach with a photo spread.

In my Seal Beach research over the years, I’ve come across some wild feats of hyperbole, but I think the first three paragraphs in this article have all other beat.

In spite of its manic lack of restraint, this article provides a solid snapshot of what Seal Beach was in 1926 and what it was trying to present itself as to the world. (This does not include the whopper about the single drowning or the claims of safety. Whoof, such mendacity!)

So I’m going to quote the entire article and include the photos with commentary after the article.

SEAL BEACH’S NO UNDERTOW CLAIM BRINGS MANY VISITORS

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Safety Factor Is Stressed By Residents of Town; Commerce Body Active

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BIG POWER PLANT TO BE ENLARGED

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Vehicular Bridge Across Outer Channel of Bay Backed by Community

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When Mother Nature chiseled the coast line of what was destined to Southern California, she gave particular attention to one favored spot, saying: “Here I will create a beach that will provide safe bathing for mankind, especially the women and little children.”

With this end in view, she formed two Inland bays with entrances from the Pacific ocean nearly a mile apart, and between these she made a gradually sloping sandy beach free from dangerous riptides and strong undertow.

Neither time nor tides have changed this condition, and since the early days of civilization in Southern California, what is now known as the city of Seal Beach has been recognized as one beach where surf bathing is safe.

Surf Bathing Safe.

The greatest degree of safety in the surf is between two bays, Anaheim and Alamitos. Although thousands go into the surf there every season, so far as known there has been but one drowning, and that near the Alamitos bay channel, when a man who could not swim attempted to negotiate the breakers on a hastily constructed raft.

The safe condition of safety exists in Anaheim bay inside the bridge, but bathers are warned to keep away from the outer channel with its deep water and treacherous currents.

For these reasons, many inland people spend their summer vacations at Seal Beach and Anaheim Landing, which is a part of the city, and it is believed the greatest number of summer visitors will be accommodated this year, because there are many cottages and tents available for summer use.

Arrange Housing Facilities

The chamber of commerce has taken up the matter of providing housing facilities for summer visitors and complete details may be had by writing to Harry H. Newton, the secretary.

Besides safe bathing, Seal Beach offers many other attractions, such as boating on the bay, excellent fishing and various amusements, one of these being a large dancing pavilion. There is also a roller coaster and other concessions in the amusement zone.

Seal Beach derives its name from the large herds of seal that have made their home here since the memory of man. They can be seen at the mouth of Alamitos bay, near the big power plant, in their natural habitat, being an attraction for tourists from all over the world. Plans are forming for a seal park, this being a part of the scheme for a vehicular bridge across the outer cannel of Alamitos bay.

History of Town

In 1903 P. A. Stanton and I. A. Lothian purchased 200 acres of land on the ocean front between Anaheim and Alamitos bays. The land was platted and the new town given the name of Bay City. In 1915, It was incorporated as a city of the sixth class under the name of Seal Beach, in honor of the large herd of seals.

Seal Beach has a municipal water system, sewers, electricity, gas and many miles of permanently paved streets.

Although the incorporated limits of Seal Beach include approximately 800 acres, only 200 acres are in the platted portion, the balance being a part of the Hellman ranch. This ranch land will not be available for homesites until after the question of oil is determined. Drilling operations are being conducted on the property by the Associated Oil company, but so far without any favorable showings. Executors of the Hellman estate say if prospecting operations prove the land is barren of oil in paying quantities, they will subdivide the portion in Seal Beach and put it on the market for homesites. The Hellman hill is declared to be one of the most desirable places in Southern California for this purpose.

Seal Beach is located on the South Coast highway. Within 15-mile radius of Seal Beach, there are 25 towns that, with intervening territory, have a combined population of more than a quarter of a million people.

Bridge Project

A project is under way for building a vehicular bridge across the outer channel of Alamitos bay that will connect Ocean boulevard in Long Beach with Ocean avenue in Seal Beach. Preliminary plans for the structure will soon be completed.

Will Enlarge Plant

On the point overlooking the entrance to Alamitos bay is located the Seal Beach electric generating station of the Los Angeles Gas and Electric corporation. The first unit of the plant was placed in operation last July. When completed the plant will consist of three units of 48,000 horsepower each and the total cost will be approximately $15,000,000. The second unit will be started next year.

The three boilers of the first unit have a capacity of 175,000 pounds of steam each, and the giant smokestack stands 275 feet high, a landmark seen from many miles distant.

Electric energy is generated here and distributed in Los Angeles over a high-power transmission line.

Chamber Is Active

Seal Beach has an active chamber of commerce, of which W. D. Miller, president of the California State bank, is president, and Harry H. Newton, secretary. The organization has accomplished much in the way of civic development and is taking a leading part in the project of a vehicular bridge across the Alamitos bay channel.

Mrs. E. W. Reed is president of the Woman’s Improvement club and Mrs. Merle Armstrong is secretary. There is a Business Men’s club, of which A. W. Armstrong is president and Harry H. Newton, secretary.

Seal Beach Is proud of its public school system. It has a fine group of buildings with a competent corps of teachers. The district at present has only a grammar school, being affiliated with the Huntington Beach high school district.

Two churches, Methodist and Catholic, provide places of worship, and there is a growing Masonic lodge.

R. E. Dolley is president of the board of trustees. Other members of the board are J. P. Transue, A. E. Walker,  J. R. John and C. O. Wheat. Mrs. Ollie B. Padrick is city clerk and Ira E. Patterson is treasurer.

Altogether, Seal Beach offers unusual attractions for either the home seeker or the vacationist.

Here are enlarged versions of the photos from the Santa Ana Register spread.

– Michael Dobkins


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2 Responses to May 27th in Seal Beach History

  1. Garry Herron says:

    Thanks for a very fine story of Seal Beach history! The statement about the chamber of commerce considering how to accommodate visitors is intriguing and causes me to wonder what they were thinking and what were the results.

    Like

  2. Michael Dobkins says:

    Hmm. Interesting question. My guess (and it’s purely a guess with no info to confirm it) is that the chamber had chosen to track availability and vacancies in town to refer any potential tourists to accommodations and to push visitors towards realtors to buy real estate.

    It’s almost always about real estate in Seal Beach.

    It’s possible that the chamber was exploring how to expand the inventory of accommodations, but what form would that take. Expanding tent city? Building more cottages and bungalows? I haven’t found anything to indicate those sort of measures where taken in 1926, but I’ll keep an eye out.

    Good to hear from you, Garry.

    Take care,
    mpd

    Like

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