Many feel the Broadway corridor–extending from Roswell all the way west to Cerritos–has continually lacked not just a cohesiveness that brings together other areas of Long Beach such as 4th Street and Pine, but also simple streetscape elements that increase accessibility, beautify the strip, and make it safer.
The long strip is home to multiple sections of Long Beach staples that naturally grew as business boomed in the 20s and 30s, ultimately leading to the many centers that currently exist.
East of Redondo is home to long-living bar Reno Room, gay friendly coffeeshop The Library that was for many gay youth their original LB stomping ground, along with a catch of eateries, including hometown favorite EJ Maloy’s.
Between Cherry and Redondo, you have more businesses that have shifted their respective neighborhoods for the better: La Parollacia makes some of the best Italian in the city, Makai Coffee serve only locally roasted and created java, Gallagher’s is home to one of the best Sunday Fundays, and a plethora of boutiques–Moss&Rock, LB Cotton, and Merry’s, just to name a few–have popped up near and around Temple.
And west of Cherry, you have the heart of the gay hangouts: Paradise, The Brit, Mineshaft, The Falcon, Sweet Water Saloon, The Broadway Bar, and Hamburger Mary’s.
In this sense, it is understandable why there is frustration at not only a lack of cohesiveness but a general lack of attention in creating better spaces outside and along these popular businesses. And the On Broadway Business Association is beginning to take massive steps in finally creating a true Broadway corridor connected through a series of color-coded villages that will focus on bringing higher accessibility and cleaner streetscapes to the heart of the gay community as well as a strip which contributes to countless other neighborhoods. Colored continental crosswalks, bus stops, permanent metal lightpole fixtures advertising each neighborhood association affiliated with that village, greenery… These are just a few of the things the project hopes to enact.
“The idea of the villages was a natural extension to what already exists on Broadway,” said On Broadway Vice President and business owner Sasha Witte. “We want to come together and support Broadway as one whole fabulous street, while acknowledging that there are different flavors of life as one visits each of the separate ‘villages’ that make up the whole of Broadway.”
Each village will also host a community ambassador, set to help get funding for and further projects along. One such project by Falcon Village Ambassador Nicoleta Simionescu, along with her associate Randy Koeneke, has been greenlit: a series of vertical gardens that will not only be for the most part self-sustainable, but finally add much needed greenery to the strip.
Other ambassadors include Kier Jones for Belmont Village and Steve Masis for Heights Village. The group is continuing to look for ambassadors to serve Temple Village, Bixby Park Village, and Alamitos Village.