Public Invited to the Harvey Milk Promenade Park Grand Opening Celebration May 21

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Harvey Milk Promenade Park

Harvey Milk 1978. Photo from Wikipedia

Mayor Bob Foster and Vice Mayor Robert Garcia invite the public to the grand opening of the Harvey Milk Promenade Park and dedication of Equality Plaza, at 3rd Street and The Promenade, on Tuesday, May 21, at 11:00 am.

“The Harvey Milk Promenade Park is an example of how a small, well designed open space can transform its surroundings and provide a profound purpose, “ said Mayor Bob Foster. “The park also serves as a place where visitors can learn about Harvey Milk and our very own Long Beach leaders who battled incredible odds for the rights of the LGBT community.”

Named after the late Harvey Milk, a San Francisco Supervisor and celebrated LGBT civil rights leader who was fatally shot while in office, the park features new signage, landscaping and enhanced paving, special lighting, seating and community chess tables.

“I’m proud that we are opening the first park in Long Beach named after an openly gay person, and the first park in the nation named after civil rights leader Harvey Milk,” said Vice Mayor Garcia. “The focal point of the park is Equality Plaza, an area dedicated to recognizing local area LGBT leaders and their contributions to Long Beach and the gay civil rights movement.”

The plaza includes a concrete replica of the soapbox on which Milk stood to inspire crowds when he spoke, and a 20-foot flagpole to fly the gay pride flag.

Harvey Milk became the first openly gay person to be elected to office in California, and the first gay male elected official in American history. He brought mainstream attention and support to the LGBT movement with his courage and commitment to social justice.

In 1978 Supervisor Milk came to Long Beach where he passionately encouraged people to campaign against a California initiative that sought to bar gays and lesbians from working in public schools. Shortly thereafter, on November 27, 1978, Supervisor Milk and Mayor George Moscone were shot to death by a former supervisor who had recently resigned from the Board of Supervisors.

The Park also brings new prominence to “Long Beach Recreation,” a historic Works Progress Administration (WPA) mosaic mural, located at the northern terminus of The Promenade in Harvey Milk Promenade Park. The monumental mosaic illustrates many local activities and pays homage to its original location at the former Municipal Auditorium (now home to the Convention & Entertainment Center). Originally installed in 1938, the mosaic was saved from demolition and installed at CityPlace in 1982.

Funded by the former Long Beach Redevelopment Agency (RDA), the Park is part of the third and final phase of The Promenade Master Plan, which incorporated pedestrian-oriented improvements on the three blocks of The Promenade from Ocean Boulevard to the north side of 3rd Street, transforming a stark, underutilized, concrete pedestrian walkway and performance venue into a safe, friendly, and beautiful space for residents, visitors and business people in the Downtown to enjoy.

The Promenade Master Plan included upgraded storm drains, new landscaping, lighting and traffic signals, gateway signage, community chess tables, a dog rest area, bike racks and public art. Three new residential projects have been developed and multiple businesses have opened along The Promenade, along with a new and expanded Bikestation Long Beach.

The Promenade Master Plan Improvements has succeeded at improving the pedestrian experience along these three blocks – providing safety, increasing aesthetic appeal and supporting a vibrant Downtown.

This free event is sponsored by Mayor Foster, Vice Mayor Garcia, Long Beach Development Services, the Department of Parks, Recreation and Marine, and the Harvey Milk Promenade Park Committee. The Harvey Milk Foundation is scheduled to participate. Free two-hour parking is available at CityPlace.

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