Long Beach Highway Mystery Can You Solve It?

Being recently retired and the original owner of my 1969 Porsche 912 Coupe, I now have the time and means to pursue my lifelong interest in the US highway system that existed roughly from 1926 until the early 1960s.  

One US highway that piqued my interest is US Route 6 (US 6), also known as the “Grand Army of the Republic Highway”.  From 1937 to 1964 it was the longest (about 3,600 miles) of all US highways, connecting Provincetown MA on the tip of Cape Cod, Massachusetts and Long Beach CA.

The present western terminus of US Hwy 6 now intersects with US Route 395 in Bishop, CA.  The previous routing (a general term) brought US 6 south co-signed with US 395 to what is now CA Hwy 14 north of Ridgecrest and continued south through Rosamond, Lancaster, Palmdale, Santa Clarita and into the San Fernando Valley (co-signed with US Route 99) on what is now San Fernando Road to Figueroa Street where Old 99 diverged on its separate way to the Mexican border at Calexico.

US 6 continued south on Figueroa Street into Long Beach where it turned east on State Street/Alternate US 101, now known as Pacific Coast Highway.

But where did US 6 officially end (or start) in Long Beach?  Unfortunately, at this moment I don’t know and that’s where the mystery begins. 

If you know (or are?) a long-time Long Beach resident, you may have additional information.  Or, if you have any old (1940s or 1950s) photos, home movies or maps of Long Beach, they may help solve the mystery. 

Some vintage maps show a US 6 federal shield on State Street (now PCH) east of Figueroa but west of Atlantic Avenue.  Others show the same federal shield on State Street between Atlantic Avenue and Lakewood Boulevard traffic circle. 

These apparent inconsistencies deal with the highway’s “alignment” (not the more general “routing”) that could be quite normal since federal highway designations in the last century were often changed for any number of usually political reasons.  But I’ve found nothing to date showing a verifiable “End” to US Hwy 6 in Long Beach.

Also, there’s the matter of the “Grand Army of the Republic Highway” commemorative plaque placed on the Municipal Auditorium at Seaside and Long Beach Boulevard in May of 1953.  

The Auditorium was demolished in the early 1960s and the plaque was relocated to the nearby Terrace Theater, now the Long Beach Performing Arts Center. 

Since I’ve found nothing showing an official US 6 alignment south of State Street/PCH, I believe the Municipal Auditorium plaque has been placed (twice now) not at the actual end of the official highway alignment, but rather on a suitable public building in Long Beach.  Others believe it has more significance relative to the actual end of the Highway.    

Stay tuned because when I solve the mystery, I’ll let you know.

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