The Long Beach Public Library plans to unveil a rotating exhibit of photographs celebrating the city’s historic past in February.
The photo exhibit comes as library officials plan a library renovation that will include a first-floor history room permanently dedicated to showcasing the city’s history.
“This is just a taste of what’s to come,” said library director Tara Lannen-Stanton. “We plan to have exhibits with historical photography as well as contemporary photography; really just celebrating Long Beach as it was, as it is, and in the future.”
The idea for the History Room is an offshoot of a popular exhibit last summer that featured memorabilia and artifacts from the life of one of the town’s favorite sons, Elder Assemb. Harvey Weisenberg.
Lannen-Stanton said the Weisenberg exhibit and virtual weekly programming on local Long Beach history during the pandemic were so successful that talks with Weisenberg to make something permanent began to grow.
While the library renovation is still in the planning stages, there was a desire to do something now to help uncover Long Beach’s early roots and how it came to be what it is today. today.
“Long Beach is my life”, Weisenberg, 88, noted. “It’s a wonderful place, filled with love and positivity. These exhibits are about making people aware of what the small town of Long Beach is all about.”
As soon as it opens, the room will offer programs, audio recordings, photographic collections, video clips on the history of Long Beach. Lannen-Stanton said the artifacts were collected from newspapers, historical resources and donations from residents. The Weisenberg exhibition will remain a permanent exhibition.
Eileen Pollis, the library’s local history librarian, said there are many notable items in the collection, including maps, postcards and yearbooks. She notes a letter from Calvin Coolidge’s wife’s secretary, Grace Goodhue Coolidge, to the wife of the Long Beach Board of Education president, Mrs. Froehlich from 1925 and a scan of a Harper’s Bazaar publication dated August 14 1880, with a sketch of the original Long Beach Hotel.
“It’s a resemblance to our community,” Pollis said. “Both recent objects and more historical photographs.”
She notes that many photographs are copies but still tell a story.
A favorite photograph from 1965 features the construction of the current City Hall while the original, built in the early 1900s, stands in the background, Pollis said. The collection includes some original photographs, including those printed on fabric.
The public is invited to view the first episode of local history as well as the permanent Weisenberg exhibit at an opening reception on February 5 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Registration is encouraged. The library is located at 111 West Park Ave.