Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Old Postcard Wednesday--The Breakers Hotel, Long Beach, California

- by Margaret Atwood

I'm thinking about you. What else can I say?
The palm trees on the reverse
are a delusion; so is the pink sand.
What we have are the usual
fractured coke bottles and the smell
of backed-up drains, too sweet,
like a mango on the verge
of rot, which we have also.
The air clear sweat, mosquitoes
& their tracks; birds & elusive.

Time comes in waves here, a sickness, one
day after the other rolling on;
I move up, it's called
awake, then down into the uneasy
nights but never
forward. The roosters crow
for hours before dawn, and a prodded
child howls & howls
on the pocked road to school.
In the hold with the baggage
there are two prisoners,
their heads shaved by bayonets, & ten crates
of queasy chicks. Each spring
there's race of cripples, from the store
to the church. This is the sort of junk
I carry with me; and a clipping
about democracy from the local paper.

Outside the window
they're building the damn hotel,
nail by nail, someone's
crumbling dream. A universe that includes you
can't be all bad, but
does it? At this distance
you're a mirage, a glossy image
fixed in the posture
of the last time I saw you.
Turn you over, there's the place
for the address. Wish you were
here. Love comes
in waves like the ocean, a sickness which goes on
& on, a hollow cave
in the head, filling & pounding, a kicked ear. 

16.52.360 The Breakers Hotel.  
Pursuant to the provisions of Chapter 2.63 of the Long Beach Municipal Code and with the recommendation of the planning commission, the city council designates the following building as an historical landmark in the city: The Breakers Hotel.  

A. Location, description and reasons for designation. Located at 200 East Ocean Boulevard in the city of Long Beach, the Breakers Hotel was built in 1925. It contains one hundred seventy-two thousand square feet and rises thirteen stories with two or more floors below the bluff including a recessed parking lot. The design is Spanish Renaissance Revival with a sky room and tower. The plain, stucco walls with octagonal tile roof at the summit are set off by immense, elaborate concrete ornamentation over the main recessed entrance. The ornamentation is classically derived and includes bas-relief mermaid busts and the heads of Neptune. There are twelfth-floor balconies and vaulted arches onto a wrought iron fire escape landing. The building has double-hung windows with large arched windows at the ground floor. It also features a circular drive with olive trees. The building is a major visual landmark in the area on a palm-lined boulevard. There is a glass view room at the ninth floor rear.  
Construction was begun on the Breakers Hotel in 1925. Its developer, Fred B. Dunn, planned a fifteen-story, three hundred twenty-room hotel at a cost of one hundred thousand dollars. With W. Jay Burgin as contractor, the hotel opened within a year. Later it was purchased by Conrad Hilton who made the necessary repairs, added the Sky Room, and reopened the hotel. After Hilton sold the hotel, it became the Wilton Hotel until the 1970s when it was converted into a senior citizens' residence. In 1982 it was reconverted into a hotel and in 1988 is being changed back again into a senior citizens' residence.  
As noted, the Breakers Hotel is significant in its unique Spanish Renaissance design. It is one of the largest structures constructed in Long Beach built during the Twenties. In short, it is a fine example of 1920's resort era architecture. The decoration that surrounds the entrance is lavish, symbolizing the era and its structures. The remainder of the building is simple, and its three-dimensional massing distinguishes it on the Long Beach skyline. The interior of the building, especially the elegant lobby and lounge which reflect its 1920's resort era heritage, was refurbished in 1982. On the top of the building is the Sky Room restaurant decorated in contemporary Art Deco.  



A Good Moroccan said...

I like the Margaret Atwood poem.

Kim said...

Love the postcard and the poem!

Darlene said...

If the Breakers exists today we are the same age - old gals.

The Atwood poem sounds like she is not enjoying her stay.

Phivos Nicolaides said...

"Time comes in waves...", I like that very much! The poem is so good and the old post card amazing. A great post!

Margaret Pangert said...

You found an interesting poem to go with the Breakers' postcard, Lydia! Atwood is on the waterfront writing on a postcard, and both time and love come in waves here.
The hotel sounds so luxurious! I love all the splendid details. xxox

Buddha of Hollywood said...

The hotel actually looks much better today - they did a great job renovating it:)
Too bad the beach is so polluted - there is a lot of oil washed ashore from the nearby offshore oil drills :(
We go there every summer. The kids love the metro ride and I love strolling around the old downtown.

Lydia said...

@A Good Moroccan- I enjoyed her creative poem too. :)

@Kim- So glad you did. I had another postcard post nearly completed and my mouse went crazy, opening something up, then wiping out the majority of my post. I was too tired by then to recreate the thing and will probably have it next Wednesday.

@Darlene- According to Buddha's comments the hotel looks better than ever! You're looking darn good too!
It really didn't sound like the best trip of her life...

@Phivos- Thank you! I think I'd definitely go see the old hotel if I was in the area.

@Margaret- (You Margarets are such creative types!) I'd enjoy seeing that hotel someday. Did you follow the link to the Sky Room? It looks marvelous.

@Buddha- I so appreciate your comments to bring us up to the current state of the hotel. How amazing that it's an area and a place that you know well...really personalizes the old postcard.
And it is terrible terrible news about the oil spills. Our sad planet...

naomi dagen bloom said...

Atwood poem much like her essays: sharp, clear-eyed. Wish I could finish one of her novels since am a fan of her other writing.

Lydia said...

@Naomi- At least you've begun a novel written by her, something I have not!



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