Long Beach's first inhabitants were the Algonquian-speaking Rockaway Indians, who sold the area to English colonists in 1643. While the barrier island was used by baymen and farmers, for fishing and harvesting salt hay, no one lived there year-round for more than two centuries.
In 1837, the barqueMexico, carrying Irish immigrants to New York, ran ashore on New Year's Day.
In 1849, Congress established a lifesaving station.
Austin Corbin, a builder from Brooklyn, was the first to attempt to develop the island as a resort. He formed a partnership with the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) to finance the New York and Long Beach Railroad Co., which laid track from Lynbrook to Long Beach in 1880. That same year, Corbin opened Long Beach Hotel, a row of 27 cottages along a 1,100-foot (340 m) strip of beach, which he claimed was the world's largest hotel. In its first season, the railroad brought 300,000 visitors to Long Island. By the next spring, tracks had been laid the length of the island, but they were removed in 1894 after repeated washouts from winter storms.
He gathered investors, and acquired the oceanfront from private owners and the rest of the island from the Town of Hempstead in 1907; he planned to build a boardwalk, homes, and hotels. Reynolds had a herd of elephants marched in from Dreamland, ostensibly to help build the Long Beach Boardwalk; he had created an effective publicity stunt. Dredges created a channel 1,000 feet (300 m) wide on the north side of the island to provide access by large steamboats and sea planes to transport more visitors; the new waterway was named Reynolds Channel. To ensure that Long Beach lived up to his billing it "The Riviera of the East", he required each building to be constructed in an "eclectic Mediterranean style", with white stucco walls and red-clay tile roofs. He built a theater called Castles by the Sea, with the largest dance floor in the world, for dancers Vernon and Irene Castle.
After Reynolds' corporation went bankrupt in 1918, the restrictions were lifted. The new town attracted wealthy businessmen and entertainers from New York and Hollywood.
On July 29, 1907, a fire broke out at the Long Beach Hotel and burned it to the ground. Of the 800 guests, eight were injured by jumping from windows, and one woman died. The fire was blamed on defective electric wiring. A church, several cottages and the bathing pavilion were also destroyed. Trunks belonging to the guests, which had been piled on the sand to form "dressing rooms", were looted by thieves. A dozen waiters and others were apprehended by the police, who recovered $20,000 worth of jewelry and other stolen property.
In 1923, the prohibition agents known simply as Izzy and Moe raided the Nassau Hotel and arrested three men for bootlegging. In 1930, five Long Beach Police officers were charged with offering a bribe to a United States Coast Guard officer to allow liquor to be landed. The police had another problem a year later in the summer of 1931, when a beachcomber found the body of a young woman named Starr Faithfull, who had drowned. She had left behind a suicide note, but others believed she had been murdered, and the circumstances of her death were never resolved. Corruption became rampant in Long Beach by then; in 1922, the state Legislature designated Long Beach a city and William H. Reynolds was elected the first mayor. Shortly thereafter, Reynolds was indicted on charges of misappropriating funds. When he was found guilty, the clock in the tower at city hall was stopped in protest. When a judge released Reynolds from jail later that year on appeal, almost the entire population turned out to greet him, and the clock was turned back on.
On November 15, 1939, Mayor Louis F. Edwards was fatally shot by a police officer in front of his home. Officer Alvin Dooley, a member of the police motorcycle squad and the mayor's own security detail, killed Edwards after losing his bid for PBA president to a candidate the mayor supported. Jackson Boulevard was later renamed Edwards Boulevard in honor of the late mayor. After the murder, the city residents passed legislation to adopt a city manager system, which still exists to this day. The city manager is hired by and reports to the City Council.
By the 1940s and 1950s, with the advent of cheap air travel attracting tourists to more distant places, and air-conditioning to provide year-round comfort, Long Beach had become a primarily bedroom community for commuters to New York City. It still attracted many summer visitors into the 1970s. The rundown boardwalk hotels were used for temporary housing for welfare recipients and the elderly, until a scandal around 1970 led to many of the homes' losing licenses. At that time, government agencies were also "warehousing" in such hotels many patients released from larger mental hospitals. They were supposed to be cared for in small-scale community centers. The 2.2-mile (3.5 km) boardwalk had a small amusement park at the foot of Edwards Boulevard until the 1980s. In the late 1960s, the boardwalk and amusement park area were a magnet for youth from around Long Island, until a police crackdown on drug trafficking ended that. A few businesses remained on the boardwalk, attracting bicyclists, joggers, walkers and people-watchers.
The newly rebuilt boardwalk in November 2013.
Beginning in the 1980s and accelerating in the 1990s, Long Beach began an urban renewal, with new housing, new businesses and other improvements. Today, the city is again a popular bedroom community, for people working in New York who want the quiet beach atmosphere. With summer come local youths and college students and young adults who rent bungalows on the West End; they frequent the local bars and clubs along West Beech Street. Just behind the boardwalk near the center of the city, however, vacant lots now occupy several blocks that once housed hotels, bathhouses and the amusement park. Because attempts to attract development (including, at one time, Atlantic City-style casinos) to this potential "superblock" have not yet borne fruit, the lots comprise the city's largest portion of unused land.
On October 29, 2012, Hurricane Sandy struck Long Beach. As a result of flooding, hundreds of vehicles were totaled and houses suffered various levels of damage. The estimated cost of all the damage was over $250 million. The city was without power and running water for two weeks after the storm. The boardwalk was also destroyed during the storm. The City began rebuilding the boardwalk with grants from FEMA and the State of New York. The first two-block section of the new Long Beach boardwalk reopened on July 26, 2013, and the entire boardwalk opened on October 25, 2013.
Long Beach Bus operates a twenty-four-hour municipal bus service with five routes, including three routes serving the city, one overnight circulator route, and one route, the N69, extending service to Lido Beach and Point Lookout under contract to Nassau County. Long Beach Bus also operates a trolley bus.
The first inhabitants on the Long beach barrier island were the Rockaway Indians; the Island was sold to the New Netherland colonists in 1643. Local Long Island baymen and farmers used the island for fishing and harvesting salt hay; no people lived on the Island year round for more than two centuries. The United States Congress established a lifesaving station in 1849, a dozen years after 62 people died when the barque Mexico carrying Irish immigrants to New York ran ashore on New Year's Day.
Development began on the island as a resort and was organized by Austin Corbin, a builder from Brooklyn, New York. Austin Corbin formed a partnership with the Long Island Rail Road to finance the New York and Long Beach Railroad Company which laid tracks from Lynbrook, New York to Long Beach in 1880. The company also opened the 1,100-foot-long (340 m) Long Beach Hotel, at the time the largest in the world. The railroad brought 300,000 visitors the first season. By the next spring, tracks had been laid almost the full length of the Long Beach island, but after repeated winter storm washouts they were removed in 1894.
Long Beach has a humid subtropical climate (Cfa) under the Köppen climate classification, with humid hot summers and cool winters. It is one of the northernmost locations in this climate zone, allowing for the growth of warmer climate plants like Mimosa, Crape Myrtle, Southern Magnolia, and Sweetgum often seen further south. Precipitation is evenly distributed year round, mostly in the form of rain although snowfall occurs each winter. Long Beach is vulnerable to tropical cyclones. Its climate is tempered by the influence of the Atlantic Ocean.
Unlike most suburbs, Long Beach is a high-density community. Fewer than 40% of the homes are detached houses, and the city ranks as the 35th-densest community in the United States. The city is less than a mile wide from ocean to bay and about three-and-a-half miles long. The city is divided into the West End, home to many small bungalows, and the East End. West of New York Avenue, the barrier island is less than a half-mile wide and West Beech Street is the main east/west commercial street.
East of New York Avenue, the island is wider between the bay and ocean and is home to larger more expansive family houses. There is the city's boardwalk, which begins at New York Avenue and ends at Neptune Boulevard. Along the boardwalk are many apartment buildings and condos. The main commercial strip is Park Avenue, which narrows into a small residential strip west of New York Avenue.
Central District - The area between Magnolia Boulevard and Monroe Boulevard.
North Park - The area north of Park Avenue, between the LIRR and Long Beach Road.
The East End - The neighborhood between Monroe Boulevard, and Maple Boulevard or Curley Street.
The Canals - The area comprising several streets running north-south, with parallel canals originating from Reynolds Channel. The canals begin on Forrester Street and end on Curley Street.
The President Streets - The area comprising streets named after former U.S. presidents, with the exceptions of Atlantic, Belmont, and Mitchell Avenues, and Pacific Boulevard; the streets noted as exceptions connect directly from Park Avenue to Broadway, a parallel road to the south.
Kennedy Plaza - An area in the Central District, at the intersection of National Boulevard and West Chester Street.
The Walks - An area comprising extremely narrow sidewalks between houses. Each walk is named after a month.
The West End - This area is home to small bungalows and houses located very close to each other, along small narrow streets. These streets, named after U.S. states, run from the beach to the bay, until they meet East Atlantic Beach at Nevada Avenue.
Westholme - The neighborhood between New York Avenue and Magnolia Boulevard.
As of the census of 2000, there were 35,462 people, 14,923 households, and 8,103 families residing in the city. The population density was 16,594.9 people per square mile (6,398.1/km2). There were 16,128 housing units at an average density of 7,547.3 per square mile (2,909.8/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 84.20% White, 6.18% African American, 0.21% Native American, 2.32% Asian, 0.08% Pacific Islander, 4.75% from other races, and 2.26% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 12.80% of the population.
There were 14,923 households out of which 21.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 40.0% were married couples living together, 10.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 45.7% were non-families. 36.7% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.26 and the average family size was 3.02.
In the city, the population was spread out with 18.5% under the age of 18, 6.6% from 18 to 24, 34.4% from 25 to 44, 23.8% from 45 to 64, and 16.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 40 years. For every 100 females, there were 92.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 89.6 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $56,289, and the median income for a family was $68,222. Males had a median income of $50,995 versus $40,739 for females. The per capita income for the city was $31,069. About 6.3% of families and 9.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 13.2% of those under age 18 and 10.7% of those age 65 or over.
Michael Tangney is now the current acting city manager, a position appointed by the City Council.
Boardwalk Stories (2009) is Roslyn Bernstein's collection of 14 linked stories set in Long Beach. Each story is paired with a black-and-white vintage photo of the boardwalk taken by photographer Dr. Kenneth Tydings, a long-time resident. Bernstein grew up in the West End of Long Beach.
In his memoir The NewsBreaker, the producer/journalist Larry Garrison describes growing up here.
John Dos Passos' book, The Big Money, mentions weekends spent in Long Beach in the 1920s.
Images of America: Long Beach, NY (2010), by Roberta Fiore, Carole Shahda Geraci, and Dave Roochvarg for the Long Beach Historical and Preservation Society, is a collection of photos and stories of Long Beach, NY.
Paul Jackson's book, Our Town, Our Time: Long Beach, L.I., in the 1930s and WWII, is a nostalgic look at Long Beach and a social history of the time.
Paul Jackson's book, Scoundrels by the Sea: The Sullied Past of Long Beach Politicians, Swindlers, Bootleggers - and Worse, is filled with stories of the crooked characters from Long Beach woven together with the city's notorious history.
James Patterson's book, I Funny, is about a boy named Jamie Grimm, who lives in Long Beach and deals with bullies.
Long Beach is a beneficiary of 12-12-12: The Concert for Sandy Relief. During the event, Billy Crystal talks about growing up in Long Beach. Billy Joel, who also lived on Long Beach, performed.
Legendary rock icon Joan Jett filmed her music video "Change The World" on the boardwalk.
Audrey Peppe (1917-1992), figure skater, member of three US Olympic teams, runner-up for national championship.
Mike Portnoy (born 1967), founding member and drummer of the band Dream Theater, from 1987 to 2010. Has performed with countless famous musicians and has been a part of several "super groups". Born and raised in Long Beach; Long Beach High school graduate, 1985
^Roberta Fiore, Carole Shahda Geraci & Dave Roochvarg for the Long Beach Historical and Preservation Society (2010). Long Beach (Images of America Series). New York: Arcadia Publishing. ISBN0-7385-7258-6.CS1 maint: Uses authors parameter (link)
^Jackson, Paul. Our Town, Our Time: Long Beach, L.I., in the 1930s and WWII. ISBN0-9729314-0-6.
^Werts, Diane. "A bit of Hollywood in Roslyn", Newsday, April 1, 2009. Accessed July 11, 2016. "'He's been a guiding force and a confidant and practically a brother along the way,' says Colmes, a Hofstra grad from Lynbrook, speaking from his weekend place in Long Beach."
^Garrison, Larry (September 7, 2006). "The Newsbreaker". ABC News. Retrieved 2016. "I had a flashback at that moment of being in the East School Elementary play Around The World in 80 Days in Long Beach, New York. I played Monsieur Le Bleu, and I said my two lines as classmates pulled a giant balloon across the stage."
^Jake, LaMotta; Carter, Joseph; and Savage, Peter. Raging Bull: My Story, p. 214. Da Capo Press, 1997. ISBN9780306808081. Accessed July 11, 2016. "The garden promoters brought in, at their expense, all the former middleweight champions that Robinson had fought: Bobo Olsen from San Francisco, Gene Fullmer from Nebraska, Carmen Basilio from Syracuse, Paul Pender from Boston, Rocky Graziano from Long Beach."
^Hart, Smith. "The Official Fan Page of Smith Hart". Facebook. "Today my heart goes out to all those effected by the tragedies of 9/11. I was born in Long Beach, Long Island and consider myself a native New Yorker."
^Vallance, Tom. "Obituary: Richard Jaeckel", The Independent, June 17, 1997. Accessed July 11, 2016. "Born in Long Beach, New York, in 1926, he was working in the 20th Century-Fox mailroom when, in story-book fashion, he was selected to play a featured role in the studio's major war movie Guadalcanal Diary (1943)."
^Kell, Braden (June 20, 2002). "Jeter Playing in Long Beach". New York Post. Retrieved 2016. "What is perhaps most interesting about the well-compensated athlete could be that he has rented a relatively inexpensive, unassuming summer place right on the ocean in the nearby community of Long Beach."
^Rieber, Anthony. "Mets sign Long Beach product John Lannan to minor-league contract", Newsday, January 18, 2014. Accessed February 19, 2017. "The Mets on Saturday signed lefthander John Lannan to a minor-league contract with an invitation to spring training. The Long Beach and Chaminade product will compete for the wide-open fifth spot in the rotation in an attempt to add a new chapter to the ol' local-kid-makes-good story."
^Silver, Roy R. "Lowenstein May Run on L.I.", The New York Times, July 14, 1974. Accessed February 19, 2017. "Persistent reports last week indicated that Allard K. Lowenstein of Long Beach will seek to run against Representative John W. Wydler, the Republican incumbent in the Fifth Congressional District."
^Coleman, Brian. "Check The Technique: KMD's Black Bastards and the Birth of MF Doom", Medium (website), January 30, 2015/Accessed February 19, 2017. "Aside from Manhattan, one geographical locale that had significance to the Dumile brothers was Long Beach, NY--a town technically in Long Island, but just outside of the Queens borough line.... Doom says that they were firmly planted in Long Beach when he was in junior high and early high school, and they also kept roots there throughout the mid-'90s."
^Acevedo, Kimberly. "Recalling 'Our Town, Our Time'", Long Island Herald, January 30, 2013. Accessed February 19, 2017. "Long Beach Junior High School student Audrey Peppe was only 13 when she made the United States Figure Skating team that same year."