Updated: Nov 14
As Huntington Beach residents, our focus was to not only find local artwork but to also highlight the history of our city by featuring historical photographs on our bottles. Each of our whiskey bottles feature a historical photograph that tells a story about Huntington Beach's past. We invite you to join us in preserving these great moments in time.
Huntington Beach Pier Arches
Bottle: Pierside Bourbon Whiskey
We LOVE these famous arches that were designed by architect Richard Beeson in the early 1930’s and we wish they were still standing. Beeson was hired by Mayor Bowen Moeller with a goal to turn Huntington Beach “into a city and not an oilfield”. They were positioned at the intersection of Main Street and Ocean, and would have greeted tourists who arrived by the Red Car near the pier
Unfortunately, the salty air eventually caused the arches to rust and corrode and it was decided to take them down for safety reasons. I don’t know about you, but we think it would be pretty cool if the City commissioned a local architect to design and build a modern version of these arches! Who’s with us?
Huntington Beach OIL RIGS
Bottle: Pacific Reserve Bourbon Whiskey
We found this photo (among many others) at the Orange County Archives. Most of the photographs donated to the Archives arrive in bulk with little to no descriptions about them, so we did not receive much of a back story about this specific photo.
That being said, we do know that after the first oil well was struck in 1920 there was an oil frenzy that caused the population to spike from 1,500 to 5,000 people in less than a month.
"By 1920, the first well, A-1, was bringing in 91 barrels a day. The town’s sleepy population of about 2,400 in the late teens nearly quadrupled by 1922, changing forever the face of the coast as derrick forests spread to the beach.”
-Orange County 2000, The Millenium Book, pg 54, Chapmans Gusher
After a final oil strike in 1953, the Fire Department started dismantling the oil derricks to make room for the population explosion that began in the 1950’s. The population boom continued into the 1960’s and 1970’s and Huntington Beach became the fastest growing city in the continental U.S. as housing tract after housing tract were built. Although the oil rigs were concealed to improve the beach’s image in the 1970’s and 1980’s, we can still see the remnant that remains on land and out at sea.
The Pacific Electric Railway was established in 1901 by land and railroad tycoon Henry Huntington. He developed these Red Cars and had them travel up and down the coast of Southern California to allow people access to land that he owned (and wanted them to buy).
The popularity of the Pacific Electric Railway diminished as the number of residents driving their own cars increased. The University of Southern California Regional History Collection describes the demise of the Red Car:
"By the 1920s, as the popularity of automobiles increased, service to some communities was discontinued as tracks were paved over, and the trains had to yield their high speed right of ways to traffic crossings. Lack of public support defeated plans for a subway or elevated rail system, and bus lines began to replace the red cars in many areas...by the 1950s it was clear that the automobile had become the premier means of travel..."
You can still see remnants of the tracks near the Huntington Beach boardwalk. Imagine if it was still operational today? The landscape would look and sound so much different!