Remembering Balboa

A new book chronicles the area's progression with the use of vintage photographs compared to current ones.

May 12, 2011|By Alexandra Baird,

On the day in October when Jeff Delaney sat down to write the forward to his book, "Newport Beach: Then & Now," a backhoe began demolishing the Balboa Market, a favorite destination on the Balboa Peninsula.

"Change is inevitable, but it's always unfortunate when we allow a landmark to be leveled in order to provide a few more parking spaces," Delaney said about the demolition of the market and its iconic mural in the 600 block of E. Balboa Boulevard.

Local history buff Delaney's latest book was released April 18. The first in a series of book signings at area bookstores will take place on Friday night at the Barnes & Noble Metro Pointe in Costa Mesa.

The book juxtaposes vintage Newport photos with contemporary ones to give the reader an idea of what has been lost and what has survived, he said.

Sites featured in the book include Balboa Village, McFadden's Wharf and Newport Bay.


Delaney's attachment to local landmarks runs deep. He grew up in Costa Mesa and attended Mater Dei High School and Orange Coast College before earning his degree in film studies at UC Irvine.

When he moved to Newport Beach in 1995, Delaney began collecting old postcards.

That hobby turned into more when he published a book of 200 rare postcards in "Newport Beach," followed by "Newport Beach's Balboa & Balboa Island," which features 220 vintage photographs.

Now 45 and married with one child, Delaney continues to live in Newport and "can't imagine living anywhere else."

Delaney said the biggest change he sees in his research is that there is now a thriving yearlong community in Newport Beach, which used to have a more seasonal population.

"A hundred years ago, the villages of Newport Beach, Balboa and Corona del Mar were small, and separated by vast empty spaces," he said. "Throngs of people would arrive on the Pacific Electric Red Car between Memorial Day and Labor Day, some just for the day, while others might rent a cottage or tent on the beach."

Delaney said learning local history is a rewarding hobby.

"I enjoy walking in Newport and knowing what used to be on a particular corner, or along a particular beach," he said. "It just makes for a richer experience."


What: Author Jeff Delaney will be signing copies of his book, "Newport Beach: Then & Now."

When and where: 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday at the Barnes & Noble Metro Pointe; 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at Barnes & Noble Fashion Island, and 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. May 21 at Ace Hardware Newport Beach.

Other details: "Newport Beach: Then & Now" is available from Arcadia Publishing for $12.99. For more information about Delaney, visit

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