- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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.