Venice Celebrates Its 118th Birthday, America Now 247 Years Young!
By Nick Antonicello
Venice like America will celebrate a birthday on the Fourth of July thanks to a visionary named Abbot Kinney, a conservationist, developer, and world traveler who spoke six languages and replicated the canals of Venice, Italy here at the beach is father of this iconic community and neighborhood of Los Angeles.
According to Wikipedia, the Venice recreation area opened on July 4, 1905. Venice came to be known as the “Coney Island of the Pacific.” By mid-January 1906, an area was built along the edge of the Grand Lagoon patterned after the amusement thoroughfares of the great 19th and 20th century expositions. It featured foreign exhibits, amusements, and freak shows. Trolley service was available from Downtown Los Angeles and nearby Santa Monica. Around the entire park, a miniature steam railroad ran on a 2+1⁄2-mile (4.0 km) track. The park included a system of canals complete with gondolas and gondoliers brought in from Venice, Italy.
There were ornate Venetian-style businesses and a full-sized amusement pier with an ocean aquarium featuring a seal and marine life. Kinney and some of the nearby residents were aghast at some of the low-class shows that Venice began to offer, but it was considered the best collection of amusement devices on the Pacific Coast, and made a significant profit.
Eventually, Kinney gained control of city politics and had the name changed from “Ocean Park” to “Venice” in 1911. Kinney was also allowed to build a 60-foot (18 m) long breakwater to protect his facilities from storm tides.
But over time health concerns by the City of Los Angeles saw many of the canals paved over in 1929 as Venice officially became a part of Los Angeles four years earlier in 1925.
For the Venice of today is no longer a local destination for Angelenos, but an international tourist attraction that has changed rapidly over the last decade alone as home values have exploded and rentals are out of reach for most.
A gentrified neighborhood that is considered hip and exclusive, Venice still faces the challenge of rampant homelessness and crime, as more unhoused reside in Venice more than any other place in LA with the exception of Skid Row.
Nevertheless, Venice remains an eclectic community rich in art, architecture and tourist attractions like the Venice Fishing Pier, Oceanfront Walk and of course our spectacular beach for surf and swim.
As so many will celebrate this national holiday, the Fourth of July has a special meaning for locals, especially those who reside in the historic canals.
For Venice despite all of it’s challenges and issues remains one of the most frequented tourist destinations in California with fabulous dining and shopping as several new venues will be opening this month and as the pandemic is now in the rearview, the crowds are back and the place is bustling and busy once again!
So as we salute America, here in Venice we will also salute Dogtown, for the special place it is for so many.
Happy Birthday Venice!
Nick Antonicello is a thirty-year resident and covers all things Venice. Have a take or a tip? Contact Antonicello via e-mail at email@example.com