Vintage Tile Mosaic Floors

Vintage Tile Mosaic Floors


Vintage 1940s Mosaic Tile floor at the Long Beach Airport-Zodiac upstairs by the restaurant

Up until a recent renovation at the Long Beach Airport, underneath the carpet a series of beautiful floor tile mosaics were buried for decades.  The floor tile mosaics were designed as part of the Southern California Art Project of the Works Project Administration in the late 30s and early 40s.  Some of the mosaics have been visible on the staircase and in front of the upstairs restaurant, but the remainder of mosaic tile was covered over by carpet for decades. On Sunday, the airport and newly expanded concourse were open to the public, without a boarding pass, for an open house and tours.  My husband and I decided to check it out, and I was especially interested in the part of the project that involved the historic preservation of the original art moderne/ streamline moderne style Daughtery Field terminal building.  The design of the outdoor improvements and expansion are very nice, but my favorite part of the open house was by far the mosaic tile floors.  I also liked the vintage travel posters on the second floor, featuring aviation from 1910s through the 1940s.  A large map of the western hemisphere showing old airline routes occupies a vast section of the original concourse floor.  Some of the mosaic designs highlight key features of Long Beach from the first half of the twentieth century, the shoreline, shipping, oil, aviation and the telephone.  Unfortunately, there were once wall murals that accompanied the floor mosaics, but according to local historian, Councilwoman Gerrie Schipske, the murals were painted over in 2005 and could not be recovered.

We are planning to redo our patio area out back and after admiring all the mosaic floors at the airport, I am inspired to add some decorative mosaics somewhere into the design.


1940s mosaic tile floor – Sunrise on the landing of the staircase
Vintage 1940s tile mosaic floor of the ship liner-This one is on the main floor of the original terminal
Close up of the world map mosaic tile floor from the 40’s depicting many of the major airports around the world at the time of mural. This photo shows a section of it with Long Beach, California’s airport

A close up photo of the mosaic tile floor of the zodiac


This was one of my favorite sections of the mosaic floors. Seagulls flying.


Many of the mosaic tile floor murals depicted scenes of important aspects of Long Beach during the 1930s and 1940s. This close up photo was of one of the mosaic floors featuring the oil industry, which still has a presences in Long Beach today.


The city seal vintage mosaic tile floor


One of the vintage travel posters at the Long Beach Airport. Civilian Air Patrol


Vintage Aviation Poster: Learn to Fly
Vintage Aviation Poster: Los Angeles Aviation Meet 1910


4 thoughts on “Vintage Tile Mosaic Floors

  1. Lianne: Such a local treasure! There are so many beautiful creations from the WPA Artists. I am sad to hear that the murals were painted over! I hope someone took a picture of them before they did that.
    Thanks for posting these. Incidentally, the poster with Curtis-Wright on it? My brother works for them, they are still in the aviation business (mostly military) and doing well.

    PS…when I expand my page, the POST button is inaccessible. ???

    1. I have yet to come across any pictures of the old murals, but they may be in Councilwoman Gerrie’s Schipske’s “Early Long Beach” history book. She was the one that asked the folks in charge of renovating the airport to look into uncovering and preserving the WPA floor mosaics.

      I had not heard of the Curtis Wright company before seeing the old poster on the upper level of the airport. That is really cool about Curtis Wright and your brother. Small world. I am glad to hear an old aviation company is still around with so many big companies gobbling up the little guys around here.

      I am unsure on the issue with the post button. I will have to look into it.

I would love to know what you think about this.

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