June 24, 2007

light years

I'm fascinated with the history of Venice. In 1905 a developer named Abbott Kinney turned undeveloped marshland west of Los Angeles into an American version of Venice, Italy, complete with canals instead of streets. The city had huge amusement piers and attractions to lure visitors as an amusement destination dubbed the "Coney Island of the Pacific." Kinney died in 1920 and his son took over the business of the resort town. By 1930, residents were upset with Venice's City Council and voted for annexation by Los Angeles. Over the next few years Los Angeles systematically destroyed Venice - filling in the canals to make streets, closing down the piers and amusement businesses, and even in the 60's forcing demolition of 550 historic buildings including those in the core area of Windward Avenue and the oceanfront.

Tonight, Venice lit a newly restored sign above Windward Avenue that disappeared in the 80's after years of neglect and disrepair. My friend Lewis said he remembered the sign being little more than a V and a C dripping in bird poop when he was a kid. Venice is still an eclectic mix of funky and fashionable. A small pocket of canals were restored in the early 90's; I hope the new sign becomes a beacon for more restoration of Venice's glory days.

  • Venice Historical Society photo gallery
  • 1 comment:

    rusty said...

    Interesting...we both posted something about abott kinney on the same day....someone before said we were alot alike......