Beach California: Legendary for its boardwalk, pier, colorful
street entertainers, oceanfront bikepath, Muscle Beach, artist's
colony and as the birthplace of 1960's cultural rock icons The
Doors - Venice Beach is in a world of its own. The closest description
would be that of a Greenwich Village on the Santa Monica Bay
with canals instead of cobblestone streets.
named "Rancho la Ballona" by Mexican Governor Juan Alvarado
in 1839, it wasn't until 1900 that real estate entrepreneur
Abbot Kinney founded and named Venice. Kinney's dream was to
turn the area into a "Venice of America" complete with canals,
gondolas, amusement piers, Venice Beach hotels and Venetian-styled
structures. He succeeded and on July 4, 1905 20,000 spectators
celebrated with yacht races, swimming races (in a man-made lagoon),
band concerts and fireworks at the lagoon's 2500 seat amphitheater.
Venice thrived, and over the next twenty-five years attracted
millions of tourists.
When World War II started, a blackout was put into effect which
allowed only daytime use of the piers and their attractions.
For four years Venice's nightlife practically ceased to exist.
During the 50's, the Lawrence Welk Band brought a new resurgence
of business to the ailing dance halls and piers. A televised
show made Welk a national celebrity. Ironically, Welk's conservative
"polka era" was soon replaced by a life style representing
the other side of the cultural spectrum, and one whose influences
mostly represent Venice today. The "Beats" as they were referred
to brought a Bohemian life style that centered around art, poetry
and new-jazz. Venice was tolerant of their life styles and their
homes were the local coffee houses. The flower children of the
60's flocked to Venice to experience free expression during
the 1967 "Summer of Love." Locals Jim Morrison and the Doors
provided the soundtrack for the era and much of Oliver Stone's
film "The Doors" was filmed here. To get a true taste
of Venice, simply walk down the boardwalk on any weekend afternoon.
Today, Venice is the number one seaside destination on the West