Atlantic Avenue

Why is one of the West Coast’s longest surface streets named after the ocean on the other side of the country? Look to Long Beach for the answer: Atlantic Avenue was laid out there in 1882 when LB was still called “Willmore City”. Town founder W. E. Willmore – who would eventually go broke and vanish into obscurity – named his main drag “American Avenue” as a tie-in with his American Colony tract, located within his new town. He then flanked the street with Pacific Avenue on the west and Atlantic Avenue on the east – just like the U.S.A., get it? (The geographical context was lost when American Avenue was renamed Long Beach Boulevard in 1959.) Anyway, in the 1920s there was a push for a “highway” connecting Long Beach to Pasadena, so Atlantic Avenue was extended, becoming Atlantic Boulevard north of Bell. Finally, in 1930, it consumed Alhambra’s Wilson Avenue, which keeps only a small remnant of its old name in San Marino.