Water Changes Everything

A new exhibit at the Historical Society of Long Beach is covering an issue that is used every day and often taken for granted: water.

The exhibit is called "Water Changes Everything" and it examines the role of water development in Long Beach, starting with an overview of indigenous villages that resided in this space before it became Long Beach. It will continue to showcase how people attempted to harness local rivers, utilize the oceanfront and find enough fresh water to develop a city.

Moving through time, the exhibit points out the original water sources for Rancho Los Alamitos and Rancho Los Cerritos to the tourist destination of the Pacific Ocean, paired with charming photos of old piers and hotels that date back to the late 1800s.

But the history of Long Beach's water systems and structures hasn't been perfect.

The city experienced a population boom between the 1930s and 1960s, and more people meant more construction and unfortunately, some water-related disasters. Photographs of those disasters, including floods and high tides, will showcase the story of water’s ability to overpower structures and change the topography of land.

"This exhibition will demonstrate how early residents, local water companies, the Long Beach Water Department, the Metropolitan Water District, the Water Replenishment District and other entities secured enough fresh water for our growing city utilizing wells, regional water supplies, aquifer recharging systems and conservation," a release said.

The visual history of Long Beach's water supply includes photos of early artesian wells spraying water high into the air, as well as the the political battle that surrounded the city’s participation in the Metropolitan Water District, a release said. There also is a part of the exhibit dedicated to climate change and what that means for Long Beach.

"Whether we look at the past, the present or the future, one thing remains true: Water Changes Everything," a release said.

The new exhibit is on display from 1 to 5 p.m. every Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday; 1 to 7 p.m. every Thursday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. every Saturday through June 13, 2020, at the Historical Society of Long Beach, 4260 Atlantic Ave.

For more information, go to hslb.org/water.

—Stephanie Stutzman

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