Friday, December 12, 2008

Venice scenes

I've been exploring Venice Beach lately, and learning about its fascinating history. Conceived at the turn of the century as a planned amusement and residential community, its design was inspired by Venice, Italy.

Real Estate tycoon Abbot Kinney built a residential district laced with canals. Black and gold gondolas floated beneath arched stone bridges, carrying tourists. The canals met to form a broad lagoon, surrounded by an amusement Midway featuring roller coasters and a bathhouse. A colonnaded business district with hotels and cafes connected the lagoon with a beachfront amusement pier.

Windward Avenue 1925 - LA Public library

It opened in 1905, and since then it's gone from boom to bust and back again. It's been a dazzling entertainment complex, a family resort, a tawdry carnival site and a crime-ridden dump. It's been an model community, an oil-polluted slum, a counterculture haven, and the birthplace of hip and avant garde. It's been the home of circus performers, beatniks, rockers, gang-bangers, homeless people, artists and celebrities. Venice is the cradle from which sprang creations as diverse as the roller coaster, punk rock, skateboarding, performance art and the best and showiest of modern architecture.

I'd like to share observations of Venice with you. If you have memories of your experiences in Venice Beach, post in comments or email me your stories.

9 comments:

JCK said...

I don't have any great stories, but when people visit us and ask where they should go... we always send them to Venice Beach. It is unto itself. Nothing like it.

Jason, as himself said...

Very interesting! I do just what JCK does when visitors come to town. It is truly an experience.

columnist said...

I see what you mean about being completely different to the other Venices!

Last Place Finisher said...

Gold's Gym. Rose Cafe. West Beach Cafe. Rebecca's. Rockinwagner's (the original). Chinois on Main (well, almost Venice). Lori Laughlin's purse gets stolen at a party and she chases the guy down the street to get it back. These are the things that come to mind when I think of Venice Beach.

Cheri @ Blog This Mom! said...

I second everything that Last Place Finisher said. The margaritas at Rebecca's were legendary, overpriced, and overrated. But still. The canals! The boardwalk! The weight lifters. All of it. Venice is awesome. I lived there for a while, you know. My parents both graduated from Venice High School, in fact.

Lovely piece of journalism, you have here.

Charmingdesigns said...

I will be visiting Venice Beach this summer. Anything that I should make note of...not to miss. Thanks Laurie

phd in yogurtry said...

I just love this part of blogging. To see sights from some of the most fascinating cities in the world.

Lynn@ The Vintage Nest said...

G you always have the best post..... fun, educational, sometimes provocative but always entertaining. Thanks for sharing, Happy Holidays and HPS ~ Lynn

char72 said...

What an interesting post. I grew up in southern California and lived there until I was in my early 30s. I loved the beaches. I only went to Venice Beach a few times. I loved to go to Long Beach when I was a little girl (in the 40s) to the Pike. The Roller Coaster always amazed me.
Charlotte