Venice, Los Angeles

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Venice
Neighborhood of Los Angeles
Venice Beach and Boardwalk
Venice Beach and Boardwalk
Venice is located in Los Angeles
Venice
Venice
Location within Western Los Angeles

Coordinates: 33°59′27″N 118°27′33″W / 33.99083°N 118.45917°W / 33.99083; -118.45917
Country United States
State California
County County of Los Angeles
City City of Los Angeles
Government
 • City Council Bill Rosendahl
 • State Assembly Betsy Butler (D)
 • State Senate Ted Lieu (D)
 • U.S. House Henry Waxman
 • Neighborhood Council Venice Neighborhood Council
Area
 • Total 3.1 sq mi (8 km2)
Population (2008)
 • Total 40,885
 • Density 12,324/sq mi (4,758/km2)
  Population changes significantly depending on areas included and recent growth.
ZIP Code 90291
Area code(s) 310, 424

Venice is a residential, commercial, and recreational beachfront neighborhood in the Westside district of the city of Los Angeles, California.

Venice was founded in 1905 as a seaside resort town. It was an independent city until 1926, when it was annexed by Los Angeles. Today, Venice is known for its canals, beaches and circus-like Ocean Front Walk, a two-and-a-half-mile pedestrian-only promenade that features performers, fortune-tellers, artists, and vendors.

History[edit]

A gondolier on the Venice Canals, 1909

Venice, originally called "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. After the partnership dissolved in 1904, Kinney, who had won the marshy land on the south end of the property in a coin flip with his former partners, began to build a seaside resort like its namesake in Italy.:8

Windward Ave. in 1913

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 1,200-foot (370 m)-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 community seceded from Santa Monica in 1911.:8 The population (3,119 residents in 1910) soon exceeded 10,000; the town drew 50,000 to 150,000 tourists on weekends.

People strolling by the Dance Hall on the Amusement Pier

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 Pleasure 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).

Crowds between 17th and 34th street, with roller coaster in background