Venice, Los Angeles
Neighborhood of Los Angeles
Venice Beach and Boardwalk
Country United States
County County of Los Angeles
City City of Los Angeles
• City Council Bill Rosendahl
• State Assembly Betsy Butler (D)
• State Senate Ted Lieu (D)
• U.S. House Henry Waxman
• Neighborhood Council Venice Neighborhood Council
• Total 3.1 sq mi (8 km2)
• 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 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.
- 1 History
- 2 Population
- 3 Geography
- 3.1 Description
- 3.2 Attractions and neighborhoods
- 4 Creative works
- 5 Government and infrastructure
- 6 Education
- 7 Parks and recreation
- 8 Venice in film
- 9 See also
- 10 References
- 11 Further reading
- 12 External links
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
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.
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).
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 had become 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. Annexation was approved in the election in November, 1925, and Venice was formally annexed to Los Angeles in 1926.:8
Los Angeles had annexed the Disneyland of its day and proceeded to remake Venice in its own image. It was felt that the town needed more streets – not canals – and most of them were paved 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.