New Deal/WPA Art in Long Beach, California

Location: Long Beach Plaza, exterior parking structure, 3rd St. and Locust Ave. Long Beach
Date: 1938
Description: Glazed semi-glossed tile mosaic, approximately 38' x 22' Original design by Henry Allen Nord, redesigned by Stanton Macdonald Wright and Albert Henry King

Photo © Robin Dunitz

When this mosaic was created for the Long Beach Municipal Auditorium, it was reportedly the largest cut-tile mosaic picture in the country and the single biggest achievement of the Federal Arts Project. King supervised the actual execution, which involved the collaborative work of 40 artists. Changing the geometric shapes of tile for each pattern in a design was an innovation of Wright's, and is recognizable in his other southern California mosaics.

In 1979 a major community effort saved the mural from destruction when the municipal auditorium was demolished to make way for a new convention center complex.

The mural was saved and temporarily hanged at its current location in 1982, the exterior parking structure of old Long Beach Plaza, located on the north side of Third Street just west of the Promenade. In 1982 it was declared a City Historical Landmark by the Long Beach City Council.

A construction project consisting of 39 condo-lofts at this location, is being planned to start as early as December 2005. An atrium courtyard will be built around the mural as an entrance to the privately owned condos. Although the City will retain title to the mural the daily custody of this highly significant mural will be passed on to the new Homeowners' Association.

Article by Ana Maria McGuan, Long Beach Heritage, October 2005 newsletter pdf (88.6 kb).

For more information about the effort to save the Long Beach mural, email Ms. McGuan

Long Beach - mural website

E-mail Nancy