Remembering When

by Jerry Person
Huntington Beach City Historian

Dedicated to the people of Huntington Beach about its rich past

A Tale of Two Huntingtons


This week we are going to look at some of the rich history that binds Huntington Beach in Orange County and Huntington Park in Los Angeles County together.

The first is of course a similarity of names.

In 1901 William Newland, Phil Stanton, and General Finley laid out 40 acres of land and called it Pacific City while in 1901 A.L. Burbank and E.V. Baker laid out 100 acres of land and called theres Sunrise Track and later LA Park. Both groups would enlisted Henry Huntington to bring his Pacific Electric "Red Car" into both towns and both groups renamed their towns after Mr. Huntington.

For many years Huntington Beach was just over three square mile and so was Huntington Park.

It was in a small room above Smith's Grocery at 121 Main Street in Huntington Beach that a small group of residents gathered in June of 1904 to form a church in town. The church that they organized was the First United Methodist Church of Huntington Beach and forty miles to the north a group of 12 residents were gathered in a one-room schoolhouse to organize their church to be called the First United Methodist Church of Huntington Park.

That same year a small number of folks in Huntington Beach organized the First Baptist Church in a make-shift building at Sixth Street and Orange Avenue. That make-shift building was torn down in 1905 and was replaced with a new building that was completed and dedicated on May 10, 1906 and about this time the folks in Huntington Park were organizing their First Baptist Church. That building still stands today in Huntington Beach in the same location and I recently came across a newspaper clipping of the church in Huntington Park and the two look so much alike.

The city to the north incorporated three years earlier on September 1, 1906 with Dr. A.A. Weber as their first mayor and we incorporated as a city on February 17, 1909 with Ed Manning as our first mayor.

When Huntington Beach began, our business street were not only Main Street but also Ocean Avenue. The main business thoroughfare for Huntington Park is Pacific Boulevard. So we have "Pacific" "Ocean," get it!

Just after both towns were formed, each had its own local newspaper- the Huntington Beach News and the Huntington Park Signal.

Football was all the rage in 1925 and a man named "Cap" Sheue came to Huntington Beach High to begin a legendary career and about that same time over at Huntington Park High the legendary athletic coach "Pop" Squire began his career on the football field.

The old guy in the red suit and the white fur trim that ushers in the Christmas holiday with a Santa Claus parade down Main Street in Huntington Beach when we had a Christmas Parade and in Huntington Park they did the same thing in the city to the north along Pacific Boulevard where residents and visitors alike would stand along the sidewalks to watch the bands, floats and that in his red suit coming at the end of the parade..

When the big earthquake occurred on March 10, 193, both cities suffered greatly with several of the buildings reduced to rubble.

Both towns in those early years needed the guidance of a Woman's Club to set their city's course for the future- H.B. in 1908 and H.P. in 1906.

In 1904 J.B. Corbett became the first president of the Huntington Beach Chamber of Commerce and Huntington Park's chamber can trace their history back to that same year when they formed the Huntington Park Improvement Association.

Of course they never had anyone as great as our own William "Bill" Gallienne.

Both towns boasted its own Elks Lodge, Rotary Club, etc.

When I attended Huntington Park High my principal was W. Noble Waite and when I came to Huntington Beach who should I find running the town's drug store but his son Noble Waite. There both gone now, but I can still remember what they looked like.

One of the more popular businesses in Huntington Beach for tourists and residents alike is the popular Sugar Shack and yes your right, there was a Sugar Shack on Florence Avenue just west of Pacific Blvd. in the 1970s.

These are just a few historical similarities that the two cities of Huntington share together in our golden past.

One last bit of similarity, both Huntingtons have changed so much that both seems to lack the charm redevelopment created that one feels that when you can't see and touch some of the old buildings and remember its past glory days that there is something missing in each city..