- Long Beach, CA
- Site Type:
- Post Offices, Federal Facilities, Auxiliary Federal Facilities
- New Deal Agencies:
- Treasury Department, Federal & Military Operations
- James Wetmore
- Quality of Information:
- Very Good
- Site Survival:
The old downtown post office and federal building in Long Beach, California, was built in large part under the New Deal, contrary to the date and name on the cornerstone. The building was planned and started under the Hoover Administration and the cornerstone laid in late 1932, but before construction was far along, the Long Beach earthquake hit in March 1933.
There is some dispute over whether the quake did major damage to the unfinished structure. Certainly, everything had to be checked out and some damaged material removed before construction could resume. The building opened in September 1934.
The design is Classical Moderne with a thick central tower rising to 7 stories, surrounded by a lofty, two-story base covering a rectangular block. The base contains the post office, with its lobby running along the west and south sides and large working area behind.
There are some decorative elements around the cornices of the tower at the sixth floor and the set-back seventh floor, and two enormous decorative lanterns flanking the entry staircase. The lobby is oddly devoid of the decor one might expect from such a grand post office building, however, possibly due to lack of funds because of the false start before the quake.
A newer federal building has been constructed on the west side of Long Beach, but the main Post Office still operates out of the old structure.
Site originally submitted by John Thomas on May 7, 2023.
Additional contributions by Richard Walker.
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