Monday, September 2, 2013

Wrigley Historic District

       In October 1927, surveying and grading of the 12 acre William Wrigley Jr. tract at Twentieth and Magnolia had been completed and work soon started on streets, sidewalks, curbs and gutters.

First construction in Wrigley District
     Water, gas and electrical lines were installed to service the first of sixty homes built by the Fleming & Weber Company, a Wrigley organization formed to purchase and develop Southern California real estate.  The Wrigley interests had also invested $1,000,000 to develop the Banning Park section in Wilmington.  Dave Fleming, President of the Fleming & Weber Company, designed each of the unique homes in the tract.
The Long Beach Wrigley undertaking had the support of E.J. Williams, who owned twenty-five adjoining lots.  Williams planned to coordinate his building program with the Fleming & Weber Company. Each lot had a 35-foot setback, and no two houses were alike.  All prevailing types of architecture were encouraged --- Spanish, English, Norman and Italian. No flats, apartments or stores were allowed. Ownership was restricted to the Caucasian race.

The current Wrigley District has boundaries vastly larger than those of the original tract. Wrigley never bought any other property here, but his name somehow stayed with the original parcel of land, and when developers enlarged the area they were quick to recognize a good publicity gimmick, so they continued to call it the Wrigley District.
Wrigley District housing 1930's
       In a 1976 article in the Long Beach Public Library Wrigley District files, Kay Daugherty, wife of aviator Earl Daugherty recalled that when they developed the land that was once their former air field, near Willow and Cedar, David Fleming asked them to name their subdivision after Wrigley, so it would appear to be a larger project. Since the Wrigley name on anything became a magic selling potential, the Daugherty’s agreed.
     Long Beach benefited from the Wrigley name and the Wrigley district just grew.  A newspaper map of Long Beach printed in 1941 designates Santa Fe Avenue as Wrigley’s western boundary. Later maps outline a rectangle--Anaheim Street north to Wardlow and Long Beach Boulevard west to the flood control. The area today is considered bounded by Long Beach Boulevard, the Los Angeles River flood control, Wardlow Road (the 405 Freeway) and Pacific Coast Highway.
    Development in this larger extended “Wrigley District” actually began in 1906 with the Willows Park and Pacific Boulevard tracts, built to take advantage of the nearby Pacific Electric trolley junction.
       In 1920s several other tracts followed. In November 1920, Atlantic Heights, lying on the north east corner of Atlantic Avenue and bounded on the south by Willow was placed on the market. Its value was enhanced by being near a new Long Beach park which included a 160-acre waterlands tract west of Cherry Avenue.  This park, it was said, would surpass the famous Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, and would also include an open air theater and stadium capable of seating 5000 in the arena and 20,000 more on the adjoining hillsides.  The park never developed, becoming instead the Municipal Airport.

        Builders in Atlantic Heights were guaranteed the quiet and exclusiveness desired in a "high class" residential neighborhood. To accomplish this, promoters established building restrictions of $4000 minimum, restricted all "but the best American Caucasian families" from the tract, prohibited apartments and stores. Atlantic Avenue bus lines, and the Pacific Electric lines serviced the tract.
       Atlantic Square (bounded by Atlantic Avenue, Pasadena Avenue, Perkins Street and 25th Street ) was also another important subdivision in the Wrigley District.  This residential property included water, gas, electricity, sewer and was only four blocks to the Burnett school and various churches.  All of the 142 lots were sold by December 1920, in a period of 90 days.
      But the Wrigley District has a history that goes back to an earlier history, when it was part of the Willows Colony, which I write about in my website www.claudineburnett.books.  

The Wrigley District today:
Los Angeles River, 405 Freeway,
 Long Beach Boulevard, Pacific Coast Highway

Today the area of the Wrigley District along the Los Angeles River  is one of the only sections in Long Beach that maintains a rural atmosphere. 

For more on the early history of the Wrigley District go to my website The section on Early Long Beach Subdivisions will give you much more not only on this section of Long Beach but others areas as well.  The direct link is Willows & Wrigley District