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Visitors in Long Beach discover the grandeur of the Queen Mary, with a hefty price tag

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Long Beach visitors find a royal Queen Mary, at a whopping cost

Long Beach, California, is home to a historic and iconic ship known as the Queen Mary. This majestic ocean liner has a rich history dating back 90 years and has played host to countless celebrities and royalty, including the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Bob Hope, and Elizabeth Taylor. However, the grandeur of the Queen Mary comes at a cost – a hefty cost that the city of Long Beach has been shouldering for the past eight years.

According to city records obtained by The Times, Long Beach has spent a staggering $45 million on repairs for the Queen Mary in the last eight years. These repairs have been necessary to keep the aging ship operational and on a path toward profitability. Costs include more than $3 million for rust and hull repairs, as well as $3.35 million for bulkhead repairs and removing lifeboats.

Despite the significant financial investment, Long Beach officials remain optimistic about the future of the Queen Mary. In 2021, the ship generated over $12.6 million in revenue, with profits exceeding $3 million between June and October. City officials project a “modest profit” of $3.6 million for the end of fiscal year 2024, marking a turnaround for the once-struggling vessel.

The city’s efforts to preserve the Queen Mary have not come without challenges. Private operators reported more than $31 million in losses between 2007 and 2019, prompting Long Beach to take control of the ship in 2021. Since then, the city has completed at least 25 major projects on the Queen Mary, funded primarily through revenue generated by the ship or related subleases.

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In addition to internal funding, Long Beach has secured external support for repairs. A $12 million agreement with the Port of Long Beach, which transferred control of 14 acres of city property to the port, has helped finance repairs and renovations on the Queen Mary. The ship’s profitability in recent years has further bolstered city officials’ confidence in its future success.

Visitors to the Queen Mary can expect to see improvements and expansions in the coming years. Hotel capacity has been increased to 200 rooms, and onboard activities now include 22 guest tours, exhibits, and other attractions. Planned upgrades for 2024 include hotel room renovations, elevator upgrades, and the repair of the ship’s third smokestack.

The Queen Mary is not only a historic attraction but also a key component of Long Beach’s future development plans. City officials are eyeing a 43-acre space adjacent to the ship for a world-class entertainment and mixed-use development venue. The ship’s revitalization has been accompanied by a resurgence in live music, special events, and music festivals at the Queen Mary and Harry Bridges Memorial Park.

Despite ongoing repair needs, city officials remain hopeful about the Queen Mary’s future. Recent studies suggest that the estimated $289 million in needed repairs may be less than initially thought, providing a glimmer of hope for the ship’s continued success. Long Beach Mayor Rex Richardson expressed optimism about the Queen Mary’s future, envisioning a brighter future for both the ship and the surrounding land.

In conclusion, the Queen Mary stands as a symbol of Long Beach’s rich maritime history and a testament to the city’s commitment to preserving its heritage. Despite the challenges and costs associated with maintaining the historic vessel, Long Beach officials and visitors alike see the Queen Mary as a royal gem worth preserving at all costs.

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Black couple overcomes racism to rent to Chinese family, who show gratitude by paying rent.

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Decades ago, in the early 1900s, racism and discriminatory housing practices plagued the town of Coronado, barring many individuals from living in certain neighborhoods based on their race. In the midst of this oppressive era, an inspiring story of resilience and generosity unfolded between two families — the Thompsons, a Black couple, and the Dongs, a Chinese family.

Gus and Emma Thompson, who were among the few Black families to own property in Coronado before racial restrictions took hold, defied the norms of the time by renting their house to the Dong family. Lloyd Dong Sr., a Chinese immigrant, and his wife found solace in the Thompsons’ willingness to offer them a place to call home despite the racist barriers they faced.

Fast forward 85 years later, the sons of Lloyd Dong Sr., Ron Dong, and Lloyd Dong Jr., have decided to pay forward the kindness shown to their family by donating $5 million from the sale of the house they eventually owned to San Diego State University’s Black Resource Center. This generous gift will help expand scholarships for Black students and fund renovations at the center, creating a lasting impact on the community.

Exterior view of a single-story home

The Dongs’ family house in Coronado, originally the home of the Thompsons.

(Courtesy of Janice Dong)

This heartwarming tale of intergenerational gratitude highlights the resilience and spirit of unity that transcends racial boundaries. Brandon Gamble, the director of the Black Resource Center, expressed the profound impact of this donation on the community, emphasizing the importance of stories that challenge racism and foster a sense of camaraderie.

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Reflecting on the legacy of his father and the Thompsons, Ron Dong shared, “That was the big plus for our family, because it has made all the difference for us.” The intertwined histories of the Thompson and Dong families serve as a testament to the power of empathy and solidarity in the face of adversity.

Gus Thompson’s journey from slavery to becoming a respected community leader in Coronado, coupled with Emma Thompson’s advocacy for civil rights, exemplifies the resilience and determination of marginalized communities to thrive in the face of oppression.

Gus Thompson in 1947.

Gus Thompson in 1947.

(Norman Baynard Collection / San Diego History Center)

The legacy of allyship and support exemplified by the Thompsons extends to their willingness to assist Asian Americans facing similar discriminatory practices. This act of solidarity echoes the sentiment that in times of oppression, helping others regardless of race is not just a gesture but a necessity.

As the Dong family embraced their new home in Coronado, overcoming discrimination and forging their path to homeownership, they carried forward the spirit of resilience and unity shown to them by the Thompsons. The bond between these two families serves as a beacon of hope and inspiration in a society marred with division and prejudice.

The Hotel del Coronado, a Victorian-style beach resort outside San Diego, and tent city on the beach, 1908.

The Hotel del Coronado, a Victorian-style beach resort outside San Diego, and a tent city on the beach, 1908.

(Smith Collection / Gado / Getty Images)

The resilience and determination displayed by the Dong family in the face of discrimination, coupled with their unwavering commitment to education and community upliftment, exemplify the triumph of the human spirit over adversity. The decision to give back to the community through education underscores the transformative power of generosity and empathy in creating a more inclusive and equitable society.

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As the Dongs’ generous donation paves the way for future generations to access educational opportunities and resources, their story serves as a beacon of hope and inspiration for all who strive to overcome adversity and champion unity in the face of division.

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