California Museums

Fascinating Exhibit Features US Presidents in Long Beach


By C. MacDonald

"Presidential Long Beach-From the Pacific to the Potomac" is an exciting photo exhibit in the Anderson Gallery at the Historical Society of Long Beach, 4260 Atlantic Ave. It was largely created and written by Timothy J. Friden, according to Gallery Coordinator Ashley Franks-McGill, who helped produce it.

In October of 1911, William H. Taft became the first sitting US President to visit Long Beach, whose population exploded by 700% from 1900-1910. Taft commented in his speech at Pacific Park that "during the last 10 years, Long Beach has shown more remarkable growth than any other city in the country." Following his talk, Taft enjoyed a reception at Hotel Virginia.

Herbert Hoover, an Iowa native, campaigned for president in front of 100,000 people at an Iowa Picnic inside Bixby Park in August, 1928. He returned to Bixby Park in August, 1945 to celebrate his 71st birthday at another annual Iowa picnic. In 1942, Franklin D. Roosevelt visited Long Beach's Douglas Aircraft facility to see B-17 Bombers and C-47 Transport planes being built for World War II.

There's a photo of John F. Kennedy shaking hands with supporters at Long Beach Airport in November, 1960; a picture of happy Lyndon Johnson receiving a key to the city from smiling Long Beach Mayor Ed Wade during his vice presidential campaign in October, 1960, and one of Johnson campaigning for president at the airport in October, 1964.

Richard Nixon was seen in Long Beach on several occasions. In November, 1968, he greeted more than 20,000 supporters at the airport during his campaign for president. There's even a photo of him at the Lafayette Hotel during his 1962 campaign to become California Governor. Another picture shows him speaking at the All States Society Picnic at Recreation Park in October, 1960. An ailing Nixon was visited by President Gerald Ford at Memorial Medical Center in November, 1974.

A 1976 photo shows Jimmy Carter shaking hands with supporters at Bixby Park in June of 1976 and at the airport in September. There's a picture of Ronald Reagan speaking at a local Republican candidate fundraiser alongside the Spruce Goose in June of 1983. Another picture shows him talking to a crowd next to the Queen Mary in November of 1988. An August, 1996 picture of Bill Clinton and Mayor Beverly O'Neill is worth seeing. The incredible exhibit, underwritten by the Timothy J. Friden Trust and the Historical Society of Long Beach, will be temporarily taken down in March but reappear in another area in May, according to Ashley Franks-McGill.

The Historical Society of Long Beach (for hours and information,, 562-424-2220), has more than 30,000 photographic images available for reproduction, a Long Beach Historical Newspaper Collection, City Manager Files (1922-1953), a LGBT History Project/Exhibit with materials about the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, a Cambodian Community History & Archive Project (in partnership with Cal State University Dominguez Hills) and much more. The historical society is always looking for donations of Long Beach historical materials. You can contact Executive Director Julie Bartolotto or other members of her staff.

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