Venice Timeline




  • The L.A. Thompson Company began construction of a Scenic Railroad beside the Kinney Pier. It had mountainous terrain and a tunnel which depicted scenery. The ride gave couples a chance for a quick kiss and an embrace.

  • The pier was widened and Kinney added a Dentzel carousel, a Hades attraction, a Japanese Tea House, and the Ocean Inn restaurant.

  • Construction began in Ocean Park on Fraser's Million Dollar amusement pier. It would be the largest amusement pier in the world; 1250 feet long and 300 feet wide. It incorporated the existing Horseshoe Pier, built in 1909.


  • New rides on the Abbot Kinney Pier included a ferris wheel that arrived from Seattle's Yukon-Pacific Exposition, and a Rapid's ride. The latter, a tunnel of love boat ride, depicted scenes like the Panama Canal and an Irish castle.

  • The Merryland Arcade (a penny arcade) and the Neptune Theater, a 750 seat theater for vaudeville and early silent films, opened near the pier across from the Thompson Scenic Railroad.

  • The community officially changed its name from Ocean Park to Venice after the election. Adjoining tracts of nearby land, including Playa del Rey and the Walgrove area were annexed. This increased the city's size to 4.1 square miles and its population to 5000 residents.

  • Fraser's Million Dollar Pier opened on June 17th. It featured a spacious dance hall, a PTC carousel, the Crooked House fun house, the Grand Canyon Electric Railroad (a 3rd rail coaster), the Starland Vaudeville Theater, Breaker's Restaurant, an the Panama Canal model exhibit. One of the more interesting exhibits was the Infant Incubators, where premature babies were displayed and cared for. Medical care like this wasn't available at hospitals.

  • The L.A. Thompson Company acquired the property south of Fraser's pier and built a huge Dragon Gorge Scenic Railroad on the beach. The building took up several blocks and also incorporated an Auto Maze ride, a Grotto Cafe and House of Mystery. Arthur Looff installed a beautiful carousel between it and the Casino on the pier.

  • Margaret Kinney, Abbot's first wife, died on June 30, 1911. She had been living with her sons on Park Avenue while her husband was living with his mistress in nearby Santa Monica.

  • Prior and Church's Race Thru the Clouds racing roller coaster opened on July 4th. They did a record business that day with only half the cars operating: 25,230 paying customers.

  • In September Venice opened its Union Polytechnic High School in the old Lagoon Bathhouse. One principal and five teachers taught 52 students, mostly in the 9th grade. 700 children were enrolled in Venice schools.

  • The Al G. Barnes Wild Animal Circus made Venice their winter headquarters. They set up a circus tent and gave performances throughout the winter. They returned each year until 1919, except for the 1913 winter.


  • New rides on Kinney's amusement pier included Johnson's Captive Airplane ride, another aerial ride called the Dippy Dips, the circular Auto Races and the Virginia Reel.

  • Tom Prior a miniature motordrome on Windward Avenue. A dare- devil driver raced his car along the 65 degree walls of the saucer shaped course. Hal Shain drove too fast in December when his car rose past the "red line" and smashed into the wooden guard rail protecting the spectators. He died when his car rolled over and crashed into a heap at the bottom.

  • The first bathing beauty contest was started as a promotional feature for the Los Angeles Examiner newspaper.

  • Fire broke out in the basement of the Casino Cafe on Fraser's Million Dollar Pier on September 3, 1912. A stiff sea breeze fanned the flames and soon the entire pier was ablaze. More than a 1000 visitors quickly headed for the single exit not blocked by flames. Some, who were trapped, escaped by boat or dove into the sea. The fire leapt across Ocean Front Walk and engulfed five square blocks of Ocean Park's business district. 700 fire fighters from 12 fire companies were powerless to stop the fire as 100,000 spectators watched. Finally the winds shifted off- shore and nearby Venice was spared. The loss was set at $2.5 million, much of it uninsured.


  • Eddie Maier, owner of a brewery, bought the Vernon baseball franchise of the Pacific Coast league and brought it to Venice. The Venice Tiger's first exhibition game, against the Chicago White Sox, was a loss for the Tigers.

  • Although Santa Monica files an injunction to prevent Fraser from rebuilding his pier (they owned 42 foot of ocean frontage at the foot of the pier), he proceeded by setting his pilings beyond the disputed property line. It reopened on May 30, 1913. It had a new Dance Hall, a bowling & billiards hall, a skating rink, a carousel, Puzzletown, Baby Incubators, Crooked House, Mystic Maze and La Petite Theater. It only lacked thrill rides that season.


  • A huge January storm only slightly damaged the pier, but waves washed over Venice's badly eroded beach south of the pier. They destroyed several beach front homes and washed away a mile and a half of ocean front sidewalk.

  • Abbot Kinney remarried on March 19, 1914. His second wife, Winifred Harwell, who had been his mistress since 1902, had two children with Kinney before their marriage. Within a year Kinney officially adopted them.

  • Fraser won his lawsuit against Santa Monica. His pier entrance was now on Ocean Front Walk and new buildings took up the gap. A new racing roller coaster, the Ben Hur Racer opened on the north side of the pier.

  • New attractions on Kinney's Pier included an Ostrich Farm, a Zoological Garden, a Skating Rink and an Underground China exhibit.

  • When Venice's Union Polytechnic High School on the lagoon burned, Venice built a new high school on the eastern edge of the city. It became one of the most beautiful campuses in the country.


  • Storms, worse than the previous year, severely damaged portions of Kinney's pier. Waves washed across Speedway sometimes as far as Trolley Way, one block inland.

  • The Venice Gran Prix automobile race was held on St. Patrick's Day. 75,000 spectators watched the 300 mile race. Barney Oldfield driving a Maxwell won the race in 4 1/2 hours with an average speed of 65 MPH.

  • The Waldorf Hotel opens in May on the Ocean Front Walk at Westminster Avenue. The hotel had gas lighting, ornate chandeliers a central telephone for its 50 rooms and penthouse apartments, and a ballroom where a six piece band played on weekends. Charlie Chaplin lived there from 1915 to 1920 in Penthouse #1. Clara Bow and Wallace Berry also had penthouses in 1916-1917.

  • Fire destroyed one third of the Fraser Pier Christmas night. Several buildings including the Dance Hall and half of the Ben Hur Racer were destroyed. The combined fire fighting force of three beach cities prevented the blaze from spreading.


  • Fraser rebuilt his amusement pier. A new dance hall was built at the end of the pier. Another dance hall along the Ocean Front had a 100 foot concrete dome for a roof. The Dome Dance Pavilion opened on July 4th and set record attendance.


  • Prior and Church's Great American Racing Derby opened on the Fraser Pier. It was an exciting combination carousel and horse race where the winner of each row of four race horses, won a free ride.

  • When America entered the Great War (WW I), it meant that Americans would have to make sacrifices. To conserve wheat and sugar, food vendors and restaurants had restrictions. There were meatless Tuesdays and wheatless Wednesdays, and soft drinks were less sweet.


  • Prior and Church, in a dispute with the city of Santa Monica, closed their Great American Racing Derby and attempted to demolish the building. They installed an even larger version on the Abbot Kinney Pier. Their previous location on the Fraser Pier became the Rosemary Theater.

  • Venice and Vernon were the only towns in Los Angeles County where one could buy a drink and a bottle of liquor.

  • When the World War I armistice was signed on November 11th, Venice was the only town open during the killer influenza epidemic. While everyone thought that the epidemic was over, 169 cases and six deaths were reported during the second week of December. Schools, theaters, and dance halls were closed, and people wore flu masks on the streets. The epidemic was abating by Feburary 1919.


  • In April Venice inaugurated the first aerial police force. It proved useful for tracking fleeing automobile bandits, or finding boats in distress.

  • The Kinney Company enlarged the end of their pier beyond the Auditorium and installed new attractions like the Over the Falls fun house. There was also a new cafeteria on the pier.

  • Enerest Pickering purchased the Fraser Pier in July, then left for the East Coast to procure new rides and attractions.



  • Venice's population was now 10,385 residents.

  • The Volstead Act, which ushered in liquor Prohibition, took effect on January 17th. Tax revenue from liquor licenses was cut $30,000 as many bars and restaurants closed. Liquor consumption took place in basement "speak easy" bars along Windward Avenue. They were supplied with liquor smuggled in from offshore boats that docked beneath the nearby pier. Convenient tunnels leading from the beach to nearby hotel basements plus an occasional payoff to the police, cut the risk.

  • Venice added numerous attractions to its pier district. The Scenic Railroad was removed to make room for the 1500 seat California Theater. Prior and Church razed the Rapids ride to make room for their new Big Dipper roller coaster and for a Mill Chutes ride. Others added a Noah's Ark fun house, a Bug House and a Pig Slide.

  • Pickering doubled the size of his Ocean Park Pier (400,000 sq ft). He enlarged his Crakerbox Dance Hall and placed new rides around it; a Captive Airplane ride, Over the Top (a cross between a Virginia Reel and a spiral coaster), a Dentzel Carousel, and half a dozen other attractions. Crandell built the Blarney Racer roller on the north side of the pier, and rides like the Ye Old Red Mill, the Frolic and the Monkey Speedway Auto Races opened nearby. People could bet on three monkeys peddling miniature autos.

  • Abbot Kinney died of lung cancer on November 4, 1920. He was buried at Woodlawn Cemetery in Santa Monica. His eldest son, Thornton, took over the business.

  • A fire started in the Dance Hall on the Venice Pier at 9:30 P.M. on December 20th. Flames quickly spread to adjoining attractions and by 10 P.M. the fire was out of control and in danger of jumping across Ocean Front Walk to Venice's business district. Fireman dipped there hoses into the nearby Plunge and used dynamite in a futile attempt to stop the fire at the outer boundaries of the pier. All seemed lost when suddenly the wind shifted and blew offshore at 11:30 P.M. By morning the pier was a smoldering ruin with only the new roller coaster and the bandstand tower spared. Damages ran to $2,000,000 with little insured.

  • Pier game concessionaires set up along Ocean Front Walk and the Venice Plunge was converted into a temporary dance hall in time for the New Years Eve Winter Carnival.


  • The Sunset Pier, several blocks south of Windward Avenue was under construction within days of the disaster. The pier featuring the Sunset Ballroom and little else opened in July. Plans for completing the horseshoe pier never materialized.

  • Reconstruction of the Venice Amusement Pier began in February and by April 15th, the last of the pier pilings were in place. The new pier was 1200 feet long by 525 feet wide. The Kinney Company built a new Dance Hall. Others were building a larger Ship Cafe, Noah's Ark, Dentzel Carousel, Great American Racing Derby, Captive Aeroplanes, Dodgem and Over the Falls rides. Prior and Church were building a radically new "Bobs" designed twister roller coaster. The pier opened for limited business on Memorial Day and was fully operational for July 4th weekend.


  • Charles Lick's new pier adjacent to Pickering's pier in Ocean Park, but physically on the Venice side of the town line, opened for Easter. It featured the Bon Ton Ballroom, the Zip roller coaster, a Dodge'em, Caterpillar and Captive Aeroplane rides. The old Dome Dance Hall along the boardwalk was converted into a theater.

  • Pickering added only a few rides to his pier; a Witching Waves, Double Whirl and Dodge'em.

  • James T. Peasgood, Jr., Venice's City Treasurer disappeared with $23,000 in city funds. Trustees discovered $28,500 in securities in his safety deposit box. When he returned, he confessed to the embezzlement to cover his gambling losses. He was sentenced to prison for one to ten years.


  • The city, faced with various political as well as municipal problems, decided with a February election to submit a charter to the voters for a city manager style government. But then they befuddled the voters by placing a series of bond issues on the ballot totaling over $1,600,000 that attempted to fix all problems. Finally they asked the voters if they wanted to be annexed to Santa Monica. The voters rejected everything. They were clearly dissatisfied, but each faction opposed each other's plans.

  • After 2000 people petitioned that the city be annexed to Los Angeles, a special election was held in July. Annexation lost by 346 votes; 1849 to 1503. The city was temporarily saved.

  • Pickering commissioned Prior and Church for a new twister roller coaster on the site of the old Blarney Racer. He also purchased Whip and Caterpillar rides for his Ocean Park pier.

  • The Kinney Company, in a round of friendly pier competition, added $500,000 in new attractions. Foremost was the new Fun House which contained 25 different types of rides, slides and amusements. Some Kick roller coaster was built at the seaward end of the pier, while others installed a Glass House, Pig Slide, Automatic Baseball Pitcher, several children's rides and a Deep Diving concession.


  • The Pickering and Lick Piers in Ocean Park burned in another disastrous fire on the morning of January 6th. Ten fire companies fought the blaze fanned by only a light sea breeze and in 2 1/2 hours managed to contain the fire to only the piers. However, the entire pier complex was destroyed, a loss of $2,000,000.

  • The Venice Investment Company and West Coast Theaters bought Pickering's beach holdings just two weeks after the fire. While Lick, on the Venice side of the property, began rebuilding immediately, the new investors didn't. Lick hired Prior and Church to reconstruct their Giant Dipper on his pier, and built a new Ballroom. The ballroom opened in May and the new coaster in July.

  • The City Betterment League's slate of candidates won the spring election. However, they were bent on self destruction and voted in the name of progress to fill in Venice's canals. The residents who sued were granted a temporary injunction.


  • Both Venice Pier's Coal Mine (burros pulled two passenger carts) ride and the Dragon Bamboo Slide opened that spring. In July the long awaited (construction began in 1922) Flying Circus aerial ride debuted. Six, eight passenger planes, attached to rotating vertical arms, circled the high 65 foot tower, and rose and fell as the speed and plane's lift were varied. It was a thrilling ride, just like barnstorming in the 1920's.

  • While the Ocean Park Pier's grand opening celebration wasn't until August 29th, both its Egyptian Ballroom and Jones' Fun Palace opened in late June. The pier had a new Hi-Boy roller coaster, an Aerial Swing, Toonerville Fun House, Lighthouse Slide, Miniature Auto Speedway, carousel and two theaters; the Rosemary and Dome.

  • Venice became more and more politically hard to govern. When a series of bond initiatives for civic improvements failed to pass in the August 14th election, the city Trustees called an annexation election to Los Angeles for October 2nd. Both sides fought a bitter battle. Many influential citizens wanted to be annexed to nearby Santa Monica. Out of towners temporarily moved to Venice to influence the election. Perhaps the voters listened or they were just fed up with Venice's inept government for they voted 3130 to 2215 to become part of Los Angeles.

  • After Venice became part of the city of Los Angeles on November 25th, its Sunday Blue Laws immediately became effective. Sunday dancing and gambling games were banned. Pier business suffered. Venice residents became concerned when the director of the city's planning commission declared that Venice's amusement piers marred nature's beauty and they should be removed. Several days later city officials apologized and assured Venetians that their piers would remain, but no more would be built. That squashed Prior and Church's plans for a new $1,500,000 amusement pier a mile south of Windward. Los Angeles took advantage of Venice's municipal prosperity by spending its municipal tax surplus on its new downtown city hall, and took its brand new fire engine, replacing it with a clunker.


  • Petitions were circulated to create a special amusement zone in Venice that would circumvent Los Angeles' strict Blue Laws. An election was scheduled for April. A clear majority of Los Angeles' votors voted for it and Sunday dancing resumed on May 16th.

  • Evangelist Aimee Sempre McPherson, "Sister Aimee," disappeared while swimming in the ocean in front of her Venice hotel near the Lick Pier. Airplanes and deep sea divers were called into the search. A lifeguard drowned during the search. Rumors of foul play abounded. A month later they held a memorial service, then two days later she reappeared. She told a tale of kidnapping and torture, and how she escaped across the Mexican desert. When contradictions in her story surfaced, charges were filed against her. All charges against her were dropped the following year.

  • The Ocean Park pier added new attractions including the China- town and Underworld waxworks which depicted realistic scenes like a Chinese opium den, an electrocution at Sing Sing, and several dramatically showing beheading and torture.

  • A lifeguard station was built on the beach at Brooks Avenue.

  • The Venice Miniature Railroad ceased operation and Trolley Way (Pacific Avenue) was finally paved for automobile traffic.

  • Villa City along side Grand Canal was razed to make room for a new business district.


  • New attractions on the Venice Pier included the Flying Trains, the Submarine Divers and 20 Years in Sing Sing.

  • Dance marathons became the rage and dance halls offered cash prizes. Participants had a five minute break every hour. They danced until they dropped from exaustion.

  • Los Angeles officials decided to fill in Kinney's Venice of America canal network so citizens would have more streets and places to park their cars. Naturally the city governmnet expected the canal residents to pay for the project by setting up an assessment district. Although they awarded the contract to the R. A. Watson Company in December, the Board of Public Works refused to execute it in fear that they canals, if filled, would revert to the Kinney heirs. The contractor took his case to court.


  • The California Supreme Court finally ruled in the canal filling case. The court stated that the canals were transportation corridors and that although Kinney didn't anticipate newer forms of transportation, it was no reason to deny their use.. The first trucks began to dump dirt into the canals in the summer. Work was completed by the end of the year at a cost of $636,000. The canals south of Venice Boulevard remained. They survived because the area was only half settled and couldn't support an assessment. Besides there wasn't a need for more streets in that area of Venice.

  • The Ocean Park pier was lengthened 500 feet and a Shoot the Shoots ride occupied its very end. Boats slid down its 120 foot high ramp into a four foot deep pool below. A Ferris wheel was nearby. Jones' Fun Palace was converted into a roller rink.

  • The Venice Pier removed the Bobs roller coaster to make room for several flat circular rides. The old merry-go-round building was razed to make room for the Niagara Barrel and the Parker carousel operated under a tent nearby.

  • The city took possession of the bankrupt Sunset Pier for non- payment of rent. The Parks Department decided to convert it into a municipal bathing pavilion.

  • Oil was discovered in December on county property just east of the Grand Canal and Avenue 35 on the Venice Peninsula. The well initially produced 3000 barrels per day. Oil fever swept the town, and within a month Los Angeles allowed drilling south of Lenona (Washington Street).

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