This mosaic tile mural, one of the largest in the world with more than 466,000 California tiles, was created by dozens of artists as a W.P.A. Federal Arts Project in 1937 to grace the facade of the Municipal Auditorium. It was saved from demolition by caring citizens and moved to this site in 1982.
Long Beach Recreation is the most ambitious and imposing work created by Works Progress Administration artists in southern California. It is a monumental mosaic created from 466,000 tiles; it covers 800 square feet and weighs over 3,000 pounds. It was originally created to fit in a large arch on the front of the recently completed Long Beach Municipal Auditorium.
The original Auditorium plan called for a painted mural about California history, but its cost led it to be abandoned when the great Depression struck. Federally employed artists stepped in and created a substitute, which was unveiled in 1938, positioned so that drivers heading south on Long Beach Boulevard viewed it at street level.
The artists illustrated many local activities including summers on the beach playing with a ball, a sailor admiring the beginning of his young family, and horseshoe players determining the score of a game, another part of the mosaic shows participants arguing at a free speech area known as the Sit and Argue Club.
The mosaic was designed by Henry Nord, and redesigned by Stanton Macdonald-Wright and Albert Henry King, with help of Louise Etcheverry. Stanley Spohn, John Hubley, Margaret Waite and Robert Boag performed the scaling, details, execution and installation. Louisa King designed the edge tiles and Don Totton did the color design. The artists were so proud of their work that they glazes their names on the edge tiles that wrap around the mosaic.
When the Municipal Auditorium was demolished in 1975, local preservationists urged the city to save the mosaic. It was put in storage and, in 1982, installed on the south side of the parking garage built for the Long Beach Plaza shopping center. When the enclosed mall was demolished and rebuild as CityPlace in 2002, the mosaic was protected in place. Its current site honors the wish of the lead artist, Stanton Macdonald-Wright, that it be displayed at street level.