Long Beach Landmark: Recreation Park
Exploring Recreation Park’s Legacy
Written by Lindsey Goodrow
You can’t miss it—Recreation Park is massive. It spans 210 acres in the southeast section of Long Beach, so whether you are driving down Anaheim or 7th Street, you will spot the unmistakable greenery that reaches several city blocks. With its lush green fields, diverse recreational facilities, and a legacy dating back over a century, Recreation Park is an idyllic destination for both locals and out-of-town visitors. Join us as we stroll through the beloved park’s captivating history and all of its current features and amenities.
From Past to Present
Purchased by the city of Long Beach in the 1920s, Recreation Park is now a century old. Happy Birthday, Recreation Park! Prior to the park’s purchase, the Virginia Country Club’s original 9-hole golf course existed there, built in 1910 through the vision and initiative of Colonel Charles R. Drake, the Bixby family, and several other prominent local businessmen.
According to a 1949 issue of The Golfer magazine: "The course itself was built in the center of a sheep-grazing pasture, with the clubhouse atop Reservoir Hill. It was a 116-acre, nine-hole pasture-fairway course -- the sheep kept it mowed. It had sand greens and the major greenkeeping expense was in the crude oil they used to keep the putting surfaces good."
Virginia Country Club would eventually move locations to a site in Rancho Los Cerritos as soon as the lease ended. The city of Long Beach quickly secured the old Virginia property, and has since operated it as a municipal golf course—Recreation Park Golf Course 18.
Current day, Recreation Golf Course is one of the busiest in the nation, but the land also includes a small and large dog park, a fly fishing pool and clubhouse, a newly renovated playground, picnic areas, the Billie Jean King Tennis Center, a community center that offers a wide range of classes (art, walking, fitness, and aerobics), and Blair Field.
Making Better Fly Fishers For Nearly A Century
The Long Beach Casting Club was established in Recreation Park in 1925 by David Linder, a World Champion in Distance Fly Casting. His passion would eventually draw the attention of like-minded fly-fishing enthusiasts, eventually forming a club. Over the decades, the club’s influence has deepened, and its facilities have become a hub for seasoned anglers to mentor newcomers and share insights on various fishing techniques. Through workshops, events, and gatherings, the Casting Club has fostered a tight-knit community that reveres the serenity of casting lines amid the park's tranquil pond and lush surroundings.
For the Love of Baseball
A simple baseball diamond was drawn in the dirt in Recreation Park when it was originally bought by the city in 1923. It seated a quaint 1000 people in its stands. In 1924, the first game took place between the Los Angeles Angels and Chicago Cubs, making the front page of the Long Beach Press.
The newest iteration of Blair Field was established in the mid-1950s, and it gained prominence as the home of the Long Beach State University baseball team, quickly earning a reputation as one of the most cherished baseball venues in the region. Over the years, it has served as a nurturing ground for many aspiring major leaguers.
As of today, Blair Field continues to serve as a vibrant meeting ground for baseball enthusiasts, hosting college games, community events, and local tournaments, ensuring that the spirit of America's favorite pastime lives on in Long Beach.
Preservation of Historic Parks
Strolling through this family-friendly park in Southern California, it’s astounding to imagine the history that it carries. Dogs chase the squirrels that live in the towering trees, families laugh and play in the grass or on the playground, golfers yell “FORE!” in the neighboring course, then politely ask people strolling in the park if they have seen the ball that cascaded over the fence. All the while, they’re strolling through history.
With its rich history, versatile amenities, and commitment to adapting to changing times, Recreation Park stands as a timeless haven where residents and visitors alike can create cherished memories for years to come.