I visited the Pike at Rainbow Harbor in Downtown Long Beach. Today, the Pike is mainly an outdoor shopping center, which, in addition to typical features like stores, restaurants and a movie theatre, offers attractions including a Ferris wheel, a pier, a boardwalk, and the Aquarium of the Pacific. At the end of the boardwalk, sitting in the Harbor, is the Lions Lighthouse for Sight, which was constructed using funds raised from the Long Beach Lions Club.
In 1902, the Pike opened as an “amusement zone” for the public. The park was similar to other parks of the kind, such as Coney Island or the present-day Santa Monica Pier. In 1907, the first roller coaster on the Long Beach Boardwalk, The Figure 8, opened for business. Later, in 1930, the famous Cyclone Racer roller coaster opened. It was constructed on wooden beams on top of the harbor, allowing visitors to soar over the water at high speeds. Unfortunately, following the openings of parks such as Knott’s Berry Farm and Disneyland in the 1950s, the Pike had problems keeping up, even after several renovations. People tended to stray away from it as these new parks were more regulated and seemed to be safer, quality experiences. This led to the Pike, which had been named Queen’s Park to commemorate the opening of the Queen Mary cruise ship to the public in the 1960s, to be closed down and demolished in 1979. The park had no longer benefitted the city, and they decided it was time to move on.
While I’m sad that I couldn’t see the Pike in all its original glory, I still enjoy visiting today. The large footbridge shaped like the Cyclone Racer pays homage to the original ride, and at night, the city glow and water of the harbor are an especially beautiful sight from the Lions Lighthouse. They provide an enjoyable experience, especially on a first date.