Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The waves have come and gone

Decades ago, Long Beach was something of a surfing mecca, with wave-pounding beaches where legends like Duke Kahanamoku held the first national surf contest in 1938.

About nine miles of solid rock changed that.

The breakwater, a 50-foot-high wall of rock built by the Army Corps of Engineers in the 1940s, stopped the waves. And by creating a protective barrier, the wall allowed the Port of Long Beach and surrounding marinas to expand and thrive.

For generations, surfers and environmentalists have sought to "break the breakwater" and bring waves back to the Long Beach coast.

That's still a distant dream. But the City Council is expected to decide whether to fund a study on reconfiguring the roughly two-mile peninsula area breakwater, which lies at the east end of the city away from the huge port complex.
Waves crashing on the Long Beach coast led to the building of ornate apartment towers and the Pike amusement park, shown in 1925. Some in Long Beach believe removing part of the existing breakwater would restore the city’s appeal to tourists.

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