Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Anaheim Landing: Our Very Own Water Front Beach

In the late 1800s Anaheim farmers went looking for a harbor to import and export supplies and goods as their little city was growing. They first chose Alamitos Bay, which at the time was a part of Long Beach, but it was soon washed out after a flood. Heading East to find a suitable replacement port, they found a bay right on the beach where they could send out small boats to trade cargo from larger ships. They named it Anaheim Landing.

Anaheim Landing panorama 1800s, Anaheim Landing view from the water and Anaheim Landing bathers 1888. Courtesy Anaheim Public Library.

Only 12 miles from Anaheim, the Landing didn’t just succeed as a shipping port, but also provided a vacation place for Anaheimers who wanted to bathe in the sea and enjoy the salty air. Though the Southern Pacific Railway eventually replaced Anaheim Landing’s use as a shipping port, it stayed alive by focusing on the recreational aspects. The large shipping warehouse was turned into a bathhouse which eventually housed a general store and changing area. A wooden pier was built with a boardwalk around it that included a rollercoaster, dance floor and other attractions. Some amazing photos can be found in “Images of America Seal Beach” by Laura L. Alioto.

Group of swimmers in the 1920s (the man in the middle bottom is wearing an Anaheim Landing shirt), Courtesy of Seal Beach Founders Committee, Swimmers near the bathhouse and boat landing early 1900s, Courtesy of UC Irvine Special Collections, Screen Beauties Bather’s Parade in front of the Anaheim Landing Bowling Alley 1917, Courtesy of Seal Beach Founders Committee.

In 1915 Anaheim Landing was incorporated into Orange County as the city of Seal Beach with little traces of ever having been a shipping port for Anaheim. During World War II the Navy returned the bay to it's shipping roots, loading and storing munitions for the war effort in the Pacific. These days Anaheim Bay is part of the active Seal Beach Naval Weapons Station, with the marsh lands protected as a National Wildlife Refuge. The City of Seal Beach is now a small beach town with a selection of restaurants and shops on Main Street and a Ruby’s diner at the end of the wood pier. It now reflects more of a sleepy and relaxing beach town than the swinging boardwalk it once was.

Seal Beach today
 Source: "A Story of Seal Beach" by Jean B. Dorr

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