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Colorful Street Names of the Heights

By Maureen Neeley


One can’t live in Long Beach without running across some unique street names. What many people don’t realize is there is meaning behind many of these monikers.

Long Beach was not always one large city. In fact, it was made up of various distinct sites such as Mira Mar, Zaferia, American Colony, the Ranchos Los Alamitos and Los Cerritos, and Alamitos Beach Township. Each of these enclaves had their own system of streets with many of the names stopping and starting at each area’s boundaries.


Long Beach was not always one large city. In fact, it was made up of various distinct sites such as Mira Mar, Zaferia, American Colony, the Ranchos Los Alamitos and Los Cerritos, and Alamitos Beach Township. Each of these enclaves had their own system of streets with many of the names stopping and starting at each area’s boundaries.


Belmont Heights is no exception. Originally part of the eastern part of the Alamitos Beach Township designed in 1886 by John Bixby, the street names were alphabetical starting with Alamitos and ending with Termino (the “end” in Spanish).


A few changes took place over the years with Coronado replacing Quito (which comes after Paloma) and Sobrante was a street originally slated to be between Redondo and Termino.


As Belmont Heights expanded further east in the late 1920s and 1930s, this alphabetical order continued rather languidly after Ximeno with Prospect, Quincy, Roycroft, then … Park Avenue? Keep in mind, Park was originally named Santa Fe back when Belmont Heights was first mapped. There was also a Santa Fe Avenue on the west side of the Los Angeles River. Once this west side of Long Beach was incorporated into the city limits, Belmont Heights gave up its “Santa Fe,” trading it for the statelier “Park.”


Over the years “Bishop” became “Third,” and “Eliot” became “Vista.” The changes more often than not had to do with continuing the street names of the larger entity (Long Beach City) as it swallowed smaller, adjacent entities like Alamitos Beach and Belmont Heights.


Oh, and Ximeno? That name has puzzled many a local etymologist over the years, and much of the lore is just that – lore. The oft-repeated story is that it is a woman’s name. However, it is more likely that our Ximeno Avenue is a partner to our Junipero Avenue farther west. Both Fray Bartolome Ximeno and Fray Junipero Serra were Franciscan missionaries who helped found the New World for the Spanish Crown: Bartolome Ximeno settled the area around Tubac, Arizona, and Junipero Serra became the founder of the California Missions.


We’ll leave the Long Beach pronunciations of these streets for another day!


 



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