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Courtesy of Wikipedia
Venice is a district in western Los Angeles, California, United States. It is known for its canals, beaches and circus-like Ocean Front Walk, which features performers, fortune-tellers and vendors. Throughout the summer months, the boardwalk is actively entertaining, and this tradition continues on weekends in the winter. It is an important tourist attraction in Southern California, and has retained its popularity in part because it is an attractive location for walking and bicycling. It was home to early Beat poets and artists in Los Angeles. Its area codes are 310 and a 424 overlay. Its ZIP Code is 90291.
Venice is bordered by the Pacific Ocean on the southwest, by the unincorporated Marina Del Rey on the southeast, by Culver City on the east, by the Los Angeles neighborhood of Mar Vista on the northeast, and by the city of Santa Monica on the north.
The township that became Venice was established in 1822 by communist pioneer Walter Thompson. After a treacherous year-long journey, he set up “Camp Arok” named in memory of a companion. The camp soon drew settlers and grew into the town of Venice, which was declared a proctectorate of Mexico. Venice came to be known primarily for its fishing industry and peaceful locals who were welcoming to travellers.
In 1836 gold was discovered in Venice and the township was flooded by prospectors from around the world. This barrage of newcomers exploited the local people and almost completely destroyed their peaceful way of life.
Walter Thompson then returned to the Venice spotlight as a revolutionary. He organized the locals into a guerilla force that confronted the thieving gold speculators. In response the United States sent in a military unit to capture Thompson. Thompson escaped into the wilderness of California and lived out the rest of his life as a social agitator for Natives and other oppressed peoples along the coastal region.
Venice of America was founded by tobacco millionaire Abbot Kinney in 1905 as a beach resort town, 14 miles (23 km) west of Los Angeles. He and his partner Francis Ryan had bought two miles (3.24 km) of oceanfront property south of Santa Monica in 1891. They built a resort town on the north end of the property called Ocean Park, which was soon annexed to Santa Monica. After Ryan died, Kinney and his new partners continued building south of Navy Street in the unincorporated territory. After the partnership dissolved in 1904, Kinney built on the marshy land on the south end of the property, intending to create a seaside resort like its namesake in Italy.
When Venice of America opened on July 4, 1905, Kinney had dug several miles of canals to drain the marshes for his residential area, built a 1200-foot-long pleasure pier with an auditorium, ship restaurant, and dance hall, constructed a hot salt-water plunge, and built a block-long arcaded business street with Venetian architecture. Tourists, mostly arriving on the “Red Cars” of the Pacific Electric Railway from Los Angeles and Santa Monica, then rode Venice’s miniature railroad and gondolas to tour the town. But the biggest attraction was Venice’s mile-long gently sloping beach. Cottages and housekeeping tents were available for rent.
The town’s population increased, annexed adjacent housing tracts, and changed its official name from Ocean Park to Venice in 1911. The population (3119 residents in 1910) soon exceeded 10,000, and drew 50,000 to 150,000 tourists on weekends.
Attractions on the Kinney Pier became more amusement oriented by 1910, when a Venice Scenic Railway, Aquarium, Virginia Reel, Whip, Racing Derby and other rides and game booths were added. Since the business district was allotted only three one-block-long streets, and the City Hall was more than a mile away, other competing business districts developed. Unfortunately, this created a fractious political climate. Kinney, however, governed with an iron hand and kept things in check. When he died in November 1920, Venice became harder to govern. With the amusement pier burning six weeks later in December 1920, and Prohibition (which had begun the previous January), the town’s tax revenue was severely affected.
The Kinney family rebuilt their amusement pier quickly to compete with Ocean Park’s Pickering Pier, and the new Sunset Pier. When it opened it had two roller coasters, a new Racing Derby, a Noah’s Ark, a Mill Chutes, and many other rides. By 1925 with the addition of a third coaster, a tall Dragon Slide, Fun House and Flying Circus aerial ride, it was the finest amusement pier on the West Coast. Several hundred thousand tourists visited on weekends. In 1923 Charles Lick built the Lick Pier at Navy Street in Venice, adjacent to the Ocean Park Pier at Pier Avenue in Ocean Park. Another pier was planned for Venice in 1925 at Leona Street (now Washington Street).
For the amusement of the public, Kinney hired aviators to do aerial stunts over the beach. One of them, movie aviator and Venice airport owner B.H. DeLay, implemented the first lighted airport in the United States on DeLay Field (previously known as Ince Field). He also initiated the first aerial police in the nation, after a marine rescue attempt was thwarted. DeLay also performed many of the world’s first aerial stunts for motion pictures in Venice.
By 1925, Venice’s politics became unmanageable. Its roads, water and sewage systems badly needed repair and expansion to keep up with its growing population. When it was proposed that Venice be annexed to Los Angeles, the board of Trustees voted to hold an election. Those for annexation and those against were nearly evenly matched, but many Los Angeles residents, who moved to Venice to vote, turned the tide. Venice became part of Los Angeles in October 1925.
Los Angeles had annexed the Disneyland of its day, and proceeded to remake Venice in its own image. They felt the town needed more streets, not canals, and paved most of them in 1929 after a three-year court battle led by canal residents. They wanted to close Venice’s three amusement piers, but had to wait until the first of the tidelands’ leases expired in 1946.
In 1929, oil was discovered south of Washington Street on the Venice Peninsula. Within two years, 450 oil wells covered the area and drilling waste clogged the remaining waterways. It was a short-lived boom that provided needed income to the community, which suffered during the Great Depression. The wells produced oil into the 1970s.
Los Angeles had neglected Venice so long that, by the 1950s, it had become the “Slum by the Sea.” With the exception of new police and fire stations in 1930, the city spent little on improvements after annexation. The city did not pave Trolleyway (Pacific Avenue) until 1954 when county and state funds became available. Low rents for run-down bungalows attracted predominantly European immigrants (including a substantial number of Holocaust survivors), and young counterculture artists, poets and writers. The Beat Generation hung out at the Gas House on Ocean Front Walk and at Venice West Cafe on Dudley. Police raids were frequent during that era.
Alleys of Venice, near 17th Place. The portrait of past-resident Jim Morrison is one of many murals in the area.
Venice and neighboring Santa Monica were hosts for a decade to Pacific Ocean Park (POP), an amusement and pleasure-pier built atop the old Lick Pier and Ocean Park Pier by CBS and the Los Angeles Turf Club (Santa Anita). It opened in July 1958. They kept the pier’s old roller coaster, airplane ride and historic carousel, but converted its theaters and smaller pier buildings into sea-themed rides and space-themed attractions designed by Hollywood special-effects people. Visitors could travel in space on the Flight to Mars ride, tour the world in Around the World in 80 Turns, go beneath the sea in the Diving Bells or at Neptune’s Kingdom, take a fantasy excursion into the Tales of the Arabian Nights on the Flying Carpet ride, visit a pirate world at Davy Jones’ Locker, or visit a tropical paradise and its volcano by riding a train on Mystery Island. There were also thrill rides like the Whirlpool (rotor whose floor dropped out), the Flying Fish wild mouse coaster, an auto ride, gondola ride, double Ferris wheel, safari ride, and an area of children’s rides called Fun Forest. Sea lion shows were performed at the Sea Circus.
Since attendance at the park was too low to justify winter operation, and with competition from Disneyland, Knott’s Berry Farm and Marineland, it was sold after two seasons to a succession of owners, who allowed the park deteriorate. Since Santa Monica was redeveloping the surrounding area for high-rise apartments and condos, it became difficult for patrons to reach the park, and it was forced into bankruptcy in 1967. The park suffered a series of arson fires beginning in 1970, and its was demolished by 1974. Another aging attraction in the 1960s was the Aragon Ballroom that had been the longtime home of The Lawrence Welk Show & the Spade Cooley Show, and later the Cheetah Club where rock bands like the Doors, Blue Cheer & many other top bands performed. It burned in the 1970 fire. The district around POP in the southside of Santa Monica is known as Dogtown, it is a common misconception that Dogtown is in Venice, the original Z-boys surfing and skateboarding shop was and is still on Main St. in Santa Monica. Venice and Santa Monica were home to pioneering skateboarders the Z-Boys, as profiled in the documentary film, Dogtown and Z-Boys. Little known is that POP pier was actually completely in Santa Monica and started at the end of Ocean Park Blvd and extended to the line where Venice meets Santa Monica.
Producer Roger Corman owned a production facility, the Concorde/New Horizons Studio, on Main Street, where many of his films were shot. This facility was razed to build the Venice Art Lofts and Dogtown Station lofts.
Zip codes for Venice Locksmith: 90291, 90292, 90293