East Anaheim Street Revives Zaferia History

East Anaheim Street Revives Zaferia History

By Ashleigh Oldland

March 28, 2012



Merchants in the East Anaheim Street Business Alliance continue to make steps towards increasing the historical knowledge and neighborhood branding in the district.


EASBA President Rod Wilson said the business district — which became an official Long Beach Business Improvement District in July 2010 to support the more than 500 businesses along Anaheim Street from Pacific Coast Highway to Junipero Avenue — is ramping up its efforts to educate the community about what once was known as the Zaferia District.


“Most people don’t pay attention to this part of East Long Beach while they are just driving through, but bringing out some of the history about this area is really bringing it to life and giving the area an identity and giving people a reason to want to learn more about it and appreciate its history and how that history has translated to modern-day businesses,” Wilson explained.


More than a hundred Zaferia District banners were hung on light poles along East Anaheim Street last year, and Wilson said the business district is planning to unveil two new, permanent Zaferia District signs within the coming month at the intersections of Anaheim Street and Junipero Avenue and Anaheim Street and Pacific Coast Highway.


Additionally, Wilson worked with a local historian and librarian, Maureen Neeley, who researched the Zaferia District and has helped publish a flyer for the business alliance. That flyer is available at area businesses or online. Wilson said he hopes the business alliance will be able to offer historical tours in the future.


“Anaheim Street is one of the oldest and longest streets in south Los Angeles County — we have more than 100 years of history in the East Long Beach area,” Wilson said.


There wasn’t a lot of information available about the Zaferia District before Neeley started delving into old newspaper clippings and archives at the Long Beach Public Library and Long Beach’s ranchos, she said.


“People told me that they would Google ‘Zaferia,’ and there wasn’t much there,” Neeley said. “Not everything is on Google, and that is why we still need research and libraries. I did some research on my own and sent it to business owners and it sort of snowballed… The EASBA hired me to do this and it gave me the luxury of going to sources that I hadn’t gone to before. I found archives that hadn’t seen the light of day in decades.”


According to Neeley’s research, the name “Zaferia” is still a mystery. But, what is known is that Zaferia started out as a small village outside Long Beach’s city limits. It was used by Mexican farm hands for Rancho Los Alamitos and was sprinkled with small cottages and fields of mustard and sugar beets. In 1904, Henry Huntington laid tracks for the Pacific Electric Rail Road (Red Cars) through the area, with a stop at “Zaferia Station” on Anaheim Road and Redondo Avenue.


Zaferia Depot was a popular place to take a ride on a Red Car or stop for an alcoholic beverage at a number of pool halls, cafes and wineries. Later, the quiet farm lots were transformed into a commercial corridor — by 1913, there were several grocery stores, churches, a drug store and post office in addition to lumber mills, construction firms and blacksmiths.


On Labor Day in 1920, Zaferia was incorporated into Long Beach; the Zaferia Depot and Zaferia Library signs were replaced, and Zaferia truly became East Long Beach.


Wilson said that learning the history of East Anaheim Street has been more exciting for the business alliance than was ever initially expected. He said the history can be used to make connections to the current day businesses on the street and he said the history is really bringing East Anaheim Street to life.


“This highlights that this is a neighborhood and a place for small businesses, and it always has been,” he said.


For details about the Zaferia District, including online photo galleries, detailed history and information about the EASBA, visit www.Zaferia.com.