Venice Timeline




  • The Kinney Company's Venice Pier beach property was sold to the State of California for $640,000. Unfortunately Thomas and Phil Davis, two sleazy lawyers, had acquired majority control of the company's bonds in the 1930's. Although they owned slightly more than half the company, few Kinney family members received more than a few thousand dollars.

  • Venice had a double celebration that summer, first when the beach quarantine was lifted on June 16th, and then when its new beach athletic center opened on July 9th. It was located between Avenues 17th and 19th. It had an adjoining 1000 car parking lot.

  • Venice Lake Park opened a kiddie amusement park on a 70 acre tract at Dell Avenue and Washington Street. It included the 30 acre Lake Los Angeles (nicknamed Mud Lake) which featured water ski shows. The park had a 35 foot tall Philadelphia Toboggan Company Junior roller coaster called the little dipper. It also had several pony tracks, a mile long miniature railroad, and five other rides.


  • The Lawrence Welk Band was hired in an attempt to revive the failing dance business at the Aragon Ballroom on the Lick Pier. Television KTLA was persuaded to resume its broadcasts. Welk's "Champagne Music" became a hit and within a year, Welk became a national celebrity.


  • Nearly 7 inches of rain fell on the Los Angeles area in a January two day storm. The area west of Electric Avenue from Brooks Avenue to Venice Boulevard was under water and 100 families were evacuated by boat.

  • CBS and the Los Angeles Turf Club (Santa Anita) obtained the lease on the Ocean Park Pier. They decided to build a $10,000,000 nautical themed park to compete with Disneyland. The pier was closed after Labor Day and for more than a year, 80 of the best amusement park designers, special effects wizards and artists created new rides and integrated the old roller coaster, diving bells, Strat-o-liner and carousel into the design. The 28 acre theme park opened on July 28, 1958.


  • The Urban Renewal Agency in Los Angeles announced that federal funds would soon be available for redevelopment of the Venice area. Venice had badly deteriorated physically through the 50's. Pawnshops and liquor stores had replaced souvenir shops and bingo parlors. Tourists were replaced by derelicts, drug addicts, winos and motorcycle gangs. Property values had dropped dramatically.

  • Construction of the huge Marina del Rey small boat harbor adjacent to Venice began in December. Huge dredges began cutting a channel entrance for the harbor at Avenue 58 on the Venice Peninsula. After it was finally completed in 1962, it became home to 6500 boats and thousands of residents who lived in apartments that fronted the harbor.


  • Venice property owners, who were against relinquishing their property rights, voted against urban renewal.

  • The Venice Canals Improvement Association was formed by Henry Greene and Barbara Jean Hayes to redevelop the remaining canals. They were inspired by the development of the nearby Marina del Rey and they envisioned concrete lined canals wide and deep enough for boating. However by 1965 when the $3.85 million project mushroomed to $17 million and was put out to bid, none of the seventy firms that inspected the plans decided to bid.

  • A new group of people began to settle the Venice area. They adopted a new lifestyle that rejected the bland contemporary values of work and success in favor of a Bohemian life centered on poetry, jazz and art. These people called the "Beats" were attracted to the area by cheap rent, a mild climate, and toleration of their lifestyle. They hung out at coffee houses like the Gas House and Venice West Cafe where they held poetry readings and listened to jazz combos or folk singing. But unrelenting civic pressure pushed the fire department to issue citations for over crowding, and the police to make vice raids and drug arrests. The Gas House closed in 1960, but Venice West Cafe lasted a few years longer.



  • Los Angeles City Councilman Karl Rundsburg formed the Venice Planning Committee in an effort to revitalize the community. These representatives from 14 civic organizations requested that Los Angeles implement a program of building code enforcement. Essentially they wanted city building inspectors to force property to improve their structures to current day standards. Owners would either make repairs or demolish them at their own expense.


  • The city agreed to the above plan, and a pilot program in the downtown beach front district was implemented. When building inspections began in January, both the Gas House and St, Marks Hotel failed to pass. They were condemned for demolition, but the owners demanded a public hearing. They formed the Shoreline & Landmarks Society with the goal of having them declared cultural landmarks. They eventually hired a lawyer to file a lawsuit against code enforcement, but they lost. Phase II and III of the inspection took place in 1963 and 1964. While it was unfair that banks would not make loans to upgrade these structures, in the end many property owners had no choice in 1965 but to watch their historic buildings be demolished. By the end of the year 550 buildings, one third of the Venice community was destroyed. It was supposed to be for the better, but Venice took on the appearance of a bombed out war zone, just cleared of rubble. It was ironic that with Los Angeles waging a war to evict the "undesirables" from the community, especially in the black Oakwood ghetto, that by leaving that area for the last phase of the project, the Oakwood community had the extra time to organize against code enforcement thus remaining an intact slum.

  • The city built athletic facilities, beach parking and a main pavilion building on the old Kinney Company pier property at Windward Avenue. The building had an open air theater with amphitheater seating. Cold damp evenings beside the ocean soon convinced the city to put a roof on the building. There was also plans to build an outdoor swimming pool beside the pavilion, but the Board of Education with a bit of politicking managed to move the site inland, adjacent to Venice High School.


  • Work was begun on the $80,000,000 Ocean Park urban redevelopment project. All buildings along the beach west of Main Street from Ocean Park Blvd. south to the Venice boundary were demolished. Two large apartment building skyscrapers and an adjoining golf course replaced Ocean Park's historic business district.


  • The 1200 foot long concrete Venice Fishing Pier opened at Washington Street.


  • Pacific Ocean Park was forced into bankruptcy when the city of Santa Monica demanded that company pay their bank rent. The rides were auctioned the following year. Although the huge Start-o-liner (Mr. Dolphin) tower with rockets was sold, it was welded together too well to disassemble.

  • The first of the Hippie invasions of "Flower Children" began that summer. They held love-ins on the beach and beat their bongo drums. While it was peaceful that first summer, the police began round-ups of trouble makers the following winter. Hundred of hippies meet with residents to air complaints. The older residents complained that they were afraid of the long-haired, unkempt youths on the beach who panhandled, used narcotics and were frequently drunk. Peace prevailed until April when riot police were dispatched to clear the beach when 14,000 hippies gathered for a free concert and "love-in" sponsored by the Los Angeles Free Press. Six officers were injured, mostly by flying rocks and bottles while they made 108 arrests. One couple were arrested for lewd conduct as the girl danced topless while her boy friend fondled her. The Western Center for Law and Poverty sued the police department for over reacting at what was considered a lawful assembly.


  • Racial tensions at Venice High School suddenly flared in March. Police made arrests on the first day as 1000 students pelted them. Six hundred students joined the protest on the second day with additional demands over the school's rigid dress code. Eventually a list of grievences were drafted to improve minority student's position on campus.


  • Canal residents staged a September canal festival as a show of unity against the impending canal improvement project that would force most of the low income renters out of the area. The hippie like festival, attended by thousands, became an annual event until it ended in 1976.

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