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Main Street Branch Library: Part 4 -- Main Street Happenings

Part Four -- Main Street Happenings

Photo #12 -- 4th of July Parade 1908

The City of Huntington Beach has been having a Fourth of July parade since 1904, before it was even incorporated as a city.  Fireworks were a part of the early celebrations, and in 1905 the Japanese community from the nearby Wintersburg Village provided a festive show which took place on a baseball field in the downtown area – most likely on what is now Main Street’s Triangle Park. 

The next photo in the library’s exhibit (seen above) is from the 1908 Parade.  Back then, the Fourth of July parade and celebrations were paid for by direct support from the citizens of the community.  To encourage ticket sales for the event, Board of Trustees member and Huntington Beach resident D.O. Stewart held a contest to see who could sell the most tickets.  The winner would be crowned “Goddess of Liberty”.  Turns out his daughter, 16 year old Maude Stewart, won the title.  Maude is pictured here with the contest runners- up.  Although not for certain, this event could actually be considered a fore-runner of the first “Miss Huntington Beach” contest.

4th of July Parade 1906

The year our city was incorporated, 1909, city organizers really went all out for the year’s Independence Day celebration.  According to an article from the Los Angeles Herald, the festive day’s events included the following:

  • A bathing suit swimming contest at 10:00 am
  • An exhibition drill by the I.O.O.F. (Independent Order of Odd Fellows) canton no. 18 of Santa Ana at 1:00 pm.
  • Automobile races on the beach!! at 2:30 pm.
  • A saddle horse race on the beach at 3:20 pm
  • A concert by the Columbia band of Santa Ana at 4:30 pm
  • A dance at the pavilion (which was located on PCH (Ocean St.) and Main St.) at 8:00 pm, followed by a magnificent fireworks display on the pier with music provided by the Huntington Beach Band at 8:30 pm.

The photo above is from earlier parade of 1906.

Photo #13 -- Red Car Station at Pier 1904 -- Now demolished

The Pacific Electric Red Car line was built in the early 1900’s, and extended from Los Angeles down to the Orange County beach cities.  It was a great way for the real estate brokers to bring city folks out to the beach to see the beautiful living conditions, hopefully enticing them to purchase land.  The availability of this simple method of travel made it easier to convince these visitors to sign up for a house in a new tract along the coast. The train station pictured above was located near the foot of the Huntington Beach Pier, at the corner of PCH (then Ocean Avenue) and Main Street. 

The Red Car of the Pacific Electric Railway

On July 4, 1904, the “red cars” of the Pacific Electric Railway came to Huntington Beach for the first time.  The original plan was for the railway to bypass the tiny community in Orange County called “Pacific City”, but when land baron Henry E. Huntington agreed to run the electric car along the coast and make a stop in town, city officials renamed their city Huntington Beach, to honor the railway’s owner.  Shortly afterwards, oil was discovered in the new “Huntington Beach” and the city grew around this industry.   In 1905, the route was extended to Newport Beach and the Balboa Peninsula.  Passenger service on this coastal route from Newport Beach to Long Beach continued until June of 1950.

Photo #14 -- Main Street -- 1920's -- Armistice Day celebration of 1924

After World War I ended in on November 11, 1918, the city of Huntington Beach began celebrating Armistice Day in 1919 with a parade and ancillary events planned by the city’s American Legion Post 133.  The event was so incredibly successful and drew such a massive crowd that it became necessary to rotate the annual hosting to other Legion posts in cities like Anaheim and Santa Ana.   The parade included marching teams of former servicemen, patriotic bands, and floats created by civic groups, local businesses and school children.  Winners would be awarded trophy prizes by the Legion. In the following years, hosting and planning of the Armistice Day celebration was shared with the City and the Chamber of Commerce.  Then, during the second world war, the parades and other festivities went on hiatus.  Luckily, after the end of the war, participation increased and the name of the holiday was changed to Veteran’s Day.

Armistice Day Parade 1924 -- Featuring Military Horsemen

Two lines of men on horseback make their way down the vacated [Main?] Street, moving from the upper right of the image to the lower left while spectators stand to either side of the street. Automobiles can be seen parked behind the crowd to the left, in front of a two-story building draped with striped banners.  Legible signs from left to right include: "[...] County Riding Club", "Huntington Beach Telephone Co.", "Huntington Beach Tank Co.", "Signs", and "Caution: Fire Station".

Armistice Day Parade 1942 -- Featuring Military Servicemen

Armistice Day was originally a day set aside to honor World War I veterans.  However, after World War II ended, it became necessary to honor the veterans of that war as well.  As a result, in 1954, president Dwight D. Eisenhower signed a bill to proclaim November 11 as the new all-inclusive “Veterans Day”.  Here is a picture of the parade, still known as Armistice Day, in 1942.  The names of approximately 300 men from Huntington Beach that served in the military were included on an honor roll plaque located at the corner of Olive Avenue at Main St.  Next door, at 411 Olive Avenue, was the emergency hospital.  A Starbucks and the International Surfing Museum now stand in their place.

Huntington Beach Public Library
7111 Talbert Ave. Huntington Beach, CA 92648
Phone 714-842-4481