In the shadow of Long Beach City Hall lies Lincoln Park, a patch of urban grit that has attracted such unflattering online descriptions as "basically a homeless encampment."
On a recent night, however, it was a place transformed. The trees were hung with Chinese lanterns, a band played from a stage and well-dressed people mingled at wine bars.
The occasion was to celebrate what Mayor Robert Garcia called "the rebirth not just of downtown, but of Long Beach," part of which includes a new civic center complex on this site.
"Don't ever forget that we live in the best city in the country!" Garcia, 37, told the crowd when he took the stage. "And I need your help to tell the Long Beach story."