If You Like Donuts (and Preservation), You'll Like this Story

This is not our first story on preserving a huge donut sign. What makes this one special is that it's as much about Long Beach as it is about preservation. And what makes it ironic is whom they had to fight to keep the donut from being torn down!
February 12, 2014, 6am PST | Irvin Dawid
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"(T)he giant pink doughnut that marks the former site of a Mrs. Chapman’s Angel Food Donuts chain is a beloved Long Beach landmark," writes Sarah Goodyear. Chapman's went out of business a decade ago, and you'd think the new owner would appreciate the landmark, but America's largest donut maker has shown no such inclination.

The aging doughnut, perhaps structurally compromised, didn't fit into (Dunkin’ Donuts') modern profile. The franchise announced plans to destroy it, along with the adjacent building, when it took over the site.

Thus began the campaign by the Los Angeles Conservancy and others to "Save the Giant Donut".

For many, the fight to save the doughnut was about trying to retain the city’s distinctive character. Long Beach is a busy port city, with an industrial history and one of the most ethnically diverse populations in the nation. For generations, it has been overshadowed by Los Angeles, its glitzier neighbor to the north. But it has been experiencing something of a renaissance lately, with city leaders focusing on improving the city’s quality of life and bringing back downtown neighborhoods – in part by creating some of the region's best bike infrastructure.

Goodyear, a former Streetsblog writer, makes clear that the donut's location is about as far removed from good biking infrastructure as one would expect from any freeway exit location, yet it's indicative of another irony: "Attracting fast-moving drivers is exactly what such signs were designed to do. Now the wheel of history has come full circle - a sign designed to be ultramodern has come to represent a quainter time."

And the good news, writes Goodyear, is that "(i)t appears they've won their battle. In an appearance before the city planning commission last week, a managing partner of the Dunkin’ Donuts franchisee announced that his company had heard the message. "We want to be good neighbors," he said, according to the Los Angeles Times. "The last thing we want to do is be viewed as the guys that killed the doughnut."

If you'd like another good donut story, in 2009 we posted "Donut Architecture" about a donut shop in nearby Los Angeles.

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Published on Tuesday, February 11, 2014 in The Atlantic Cities
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