The best part about living in Long Beach is touring the East Village Arts District!
A little history: the East Village Arts District got its name from the artist’s colony that was created there in 1922 by James C. Savory. The colony was made up of eight buildings that housed art shops, studios, private art schools, painters, wood and metal workers, musicians and dancers. Demonstrations were encouraged and watched by those passing by. After Savory’s death in 1931 the colony was said to be thriving until 1940.
Today the East Village Arts District refers to the east section of Downtown Long Beach between Long Beach Blvd to the west, Alamitos Blvd to the east, Ocean Blvd to the south and 10th Street to the north. The District is a community made up of independent retailers, quaint restaurants, bars and coffee shops, art galleries, museums, and all different types of housing from high-rise condos to artist lofts. And just because there’s a local vegan restaurant, don’t be too quick to label this area ‘hipster’. Walk around and you will find that the people here are very much individuals. In fact, we decided to do just that, and took ourselves on a walking tour in order to share our experience with you.
Our walking tour:
We headed east from our Pine Ave office, walking towards Ahimsa, the Stone Rose Gallery and Fingerprints on 4th, passing by a young father riding his bike with his baby secured (and asleep) on his chest, a pomerianian getting her bows put on after a grooming at Soggy Dog, and a man admiring the window display at Sidewalk Fashion Hats.
After browsing the CDs at Fingerprints we headed south one block, to 3rd and Elm to have lunch at the Sweet Dixie Kitchen, a lovely family owned bakery. The interior is a nod to retro kitchens of the 50’s with red and tourquoise accents. While there we spotted a few locals, including Barbara, and older lady who sports a headscarf (and who we swear is pushing 100). She loves the French toast.
A few doors down is Primal Flower, a flower shop that sells all those curiosities you were looking for but didn’t know where to find: distressed frames, white glass candleholders, large wrought iron lanterns, and of course beautiful flowers. Shelley, the owner, told us that she was just replenishing the store after being sold out for Valentines Day! Kitty-corner is the Art Exchange, a visual arts center where you’ll find local artists’ studios, galleries, classes and workshops. This place continues on in the spirit of the original Arts District.
Wandering further east to Linden, then south towards Ocean, we come upon another cluster of businesses between Broadway and 1st Street. There’s the Greenhouse Café, located on the first two floors of the Broadlind building, a historic brick building with stone-framed arched windows that was once a hotel. We were in for an architectural treat as we sipped our coffee on the second floor, looking out of a large dome window at the grey and white art deco building across the street. This building, that houses Village Treasures and District Wine on the bottom floor, has recently been converted into contemporary loft housing. Next door to it sits the Lafayette building, which is also art deco in design and equally easy on the eyes. The bottom floor is home to the boutique Elev8.
(Not a coffee drinker or just looking for a healthy detox? Next door to the Greenhouse Café is Revive Juice Bar! This small shop is old-meets-new with a hexagonal tile floor, subway tile wall and bright orange countertop complete with a lit-from-within geometric design. The staff is always friendly and down to earth. The juices? Amazing.)
Continuing down the street we pass by a lush seating area built in the ally way on the side of Hellada Gallery. Past the gallery sits the vintage shop Ay, Que Vintage! and the restaurant Utopia. As we turn the corner on 1st, we pop into Anneise, which boasts some of the best minimalist chic jewelry in town. Across the street is the made to order jeans store The Academy, which also sells great men’s accessories, footwear, shirts, and jackets. With it’s exposed brick walls and contemporary meets vintage furniture, the interior can best be described as industrial-eclectic, which, as it turns out, very aptly describes their product as well.
Our visit ended with a stroll past the beautiful community garden on 1st and Elm (what a treasure!). Walking west towards the office now…
You still with us? Great! You might be thinking, “jeez, visiting the East Village Arts District is going to take all day!” Not the case. We were able to cover all this ground in about two hours. However, there is so much to explore that you might WANT to stay all day. And come back the next day. And the next. Ok, you get the picture.
P.S. Also keep in mind that we did not walk around the entire area, rather visited specific sections. Remember, there’s the Museum of Latin American Art on Alamitos Blvd. and numerous restaurants we didn’t get to mention!
Second Saturday Art Walk: This is a neat event that happens on the second Saturday of each month. Linden Ave. between 1st and 4th is closed to traffic, local businesses stay open late, and visitors are encouraged to visit the galleries and enjoy street performances and live music. The best part? It’s FREE!!!
All photos belong to DOMA Properties.
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