The Long Beach Pike

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The Pike was was opened in 1902 in Long Beach, California. The pier, food stands and amusement park all drew large crowds of families, and with the completion of the Red Car Line from Los Angeles, the Pike attracted people from all walks of life.

lt-back-1957_medLyle Tuttle tattooed by Bert Grimm

With arcades, sideshows, bars and a carnival atmosphere, as well as it’s proximity to shipyards, you can imagine it wasn’t long before tattoo parlours started appearing on the Pike. Many tattooers at the time learned to tattoo either at sea or in the circus, so it is no wonder that a carnival-like amusement park located near a naval shipyard helped to produced some of the most well known tattooers of the time, like Lee Roy Minugh, Bob Shaw, Lyle Tuttle, and perhaps most notably Bert Grimm.

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Screen Shot 2014-08-24 at 13.35.33Bert Grimm’s Expert Tattoo

Bert Grimm opened his shop Expert Tattoo in the 1950’s, which is still the longest running continuously operated tattoo shop in the USA. The shop is currently under the name Outer Limits tattoo, and also has a small museum on the history of local tattooing. Grimm is known for producing many original tattoo designs that have become classics and are still tattooed today. Further

Bert-Grimm-01Classic flash by Bert Grimm

Another well known tattooer from the Pike was Owen Jensen. Jensen worked with Grimm at his shop through the 50’s and 60’s, but later moved further down the street to work with Lee Roy Minugh. Through the 70’s the area became notoriously rough. It was not uncommon for tattoo shops to be robbed at gun point, and in 1976 Owen Jensen was stabbed and robbed in his shop.

owen_jensenOwen Jensen at work

Through the 1970’s The Pike went through a steady decline, until in 1979 Long Beach City Council decided to not renew the land lease, and the pier and attractions were demolished. Many of the tattooers left the Pike for good, but the area left a lasting impression on tattoo history.

tumblr_mmyz9bOT6x1so1xloo1_500A young Bob Shaw tattooed by Bert Grimm