Early Views of Santa Monica

Historical Photos of Early Santa Monica
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(1875)* - View of Santa Monica and bay showing the road and wharf of the Los Angeles & Independence Railroad, about 1875. The wharf was completed in 1875 and sold in June 1877 to the Southern Pacific Railway Company, This print was photographed from an old lithograph.


Historical Notes

The northern sections of the city of Santa Monica once belonged to Rancho San Vicente y Santa Monica and Rancho Boca de Santa Monica. The Sepulveda family sold 38,409 acres of Rancho San Vicente y Santa Monica for $54,000 in 1872 to Colonel Robert S. Baker and his wife, Arcadia Bandini de Stearns Baker. Bandini was the daughter of Juan Bandini, a prominent and wealthy early Californian, and was the widow of Abel Stearns, once the richest man in Los Angeles. Baker also bought a half interest in Rancho Boca de Santa Monica. Nevada Senator John P. Jones bought a half interest in Baker's property in 1874.*^

To make the town marketable, Jones built a 16-mile rail line between the Santa Monica Bay waterfront and downtown Los Angeles, naming it the Los Angeles and Independence Railroad. It was only the second railroad built in Los Angeles; the first was the Los Angeles and San Pedro, which opened in 1869.*#*





(1877)* - View of Santa Monica looking north from the present Colorado Street, overlooking Ocean and 2nd Avenues.


Historical Notes

In 1875, John P. Jones and Colonel Robert S. Baker subdivided part of their joint holdings and created the town of Santa Monica. The town site fronted on the ocean and was bounded on the northwest by Montana Avenue, on the southeast by Colorado Avenue and on the northeast by 26th Street. The avenues were all named after the states of the West, the streets being simply numbered. The first lots in Santa Monica were sold on July 15, 1875.*^





(1875)* - Investors gathering to buy lots in Santa Monica which was promoted as the "City by the Sea."  


Historical Notes

The land was auctioned on July 15, 1875 by the San Francisco Office of the Santa Monica Land Company. The advantages of Santa Monica were emphasized, particularly the superiority of its harbor over that of San Pedro.*

The lots sold for $500 and $750.  Within a few weeks after the town lot sale a change had come over the barren plain.  Houses and stores sprang up, a general store was opened and a newspaper started.^#*



(1880)* - Photo of the business block on Third Street, between Utah and Oregon (now Santa Monica Boulevard). Today, this is the site of the 3rd Street Promenade.  


Historical Notes

The town continued to grow and, in November 1886, the electorate went to the polls and voted 97 to 71 to incorporate Santa Monica.^#*




(ca. 1891)** – Panoramic view of Santa Monica's Third Street from Broadway to Nevada Boulevard. The dirt street is lined with square buildings containing various shops and stores. Several horse-drawn wagons are lined up at right, and there are pedestrians at left. The Opera House and the Catholic Church are on the right side of the street, while the First Presbyterian Church is on the corner of Nevada. The First Presbyterian Church can also be seen at the corner of Nevada Boulevard.  





(ca. 1896)^^ - Third Street looking north from Colorado Street, towards Broadway and Santa Monica Boulevard. View shows dirt street lined with clapboard stores and shops, one two-story brick castle-like building with crenelated turret (left center), W.T. Hull Furniture sign on roof of building at right, street trolley at distant center.  





(ca. 1875)* - View of a Los Angeles & Independence line passenger train sitting in front of the Santa Monica railway station. Several men standing on and adjacent to the train are posing for the photographer.  


Historical Notes

The Los Angeles and Independence Railroad (LA&I) opened in 1875. It was a steam powered rail line which travelled from a wharf North of the current Santa Monica Pier in Santa Monica along a private right-of-way to 5th and San Pedro Street in downtown Los Angeles.

The 16.67 miles of track between Los Angeles and Santa Monica were built by John P. Jones without government subsidies or land grants, all in a little over ten months - primarily using 67 Chinese laborers imported for the task. Right-of-way between Los Angeles and Santa Monica was given by local ranchers who were anxious to have access to a railroad. The line opened October 17, 1875, with two trains a day running between Santa Monica and Los Angeles; the fare was fixed at $1.00 per trip, freight at $1.00 per ton.*^

The Los Angeles and Independence helped make Santa Monica palatable to real estate speculators and prospective residents, but Jones, who was politically well-connected as a U.S. senator from Nevada, had grander plans for the railroad. Intending to connect the line with the town of Independence in the Owens Valley, and from there to a silver mine he owned in the Panamint Mountains, Jones optimistically included "Independence" in his railroad's name. Jones, however, encountered financial problems stemming from his mines drying out. He reluctantly sold the Los Angeles and Independence to Collis P. Huntington's Southern Pacific Railroad on July 1, 1877 for $195,000.*#*

Click HERE for more on the Los Angeles and Independence Railroad.



(ca. 1877)#^^ - Crowds of people surround a train in Santa Monica shortly after the Los Angeles & Independence RR was acquired by Southern Pacific. Piles of lumber are seen in the foreground.  


Historical Notes

In 1891, Just 4 years after acquiring Los Angeles & Indepence, Southern Pacific extended the wharf north of Santa Monica to allow access to larger ships. The wharf allowed ship-to-shore offloading, making the line a freight and passenger hauler of growing importance.*^



(1877)* - View of the wharf built by the Los Angeles Independence Railroad Co. near Santa Monica. This wharf would later be extended (1891) and become one of the longest wharfs in the world.  




(ca. 1877)* - View of the beachfront Santa Monica Bath House, constructed by Baker & Jones and located at the foot of Utah Avenue, which is now Broadway.  


Historical Notes

The Santa Monica Bath House was built next to Duffy's Bath House in 1876. It featured rooms for rent, enormous bathtubs and two steam rooms. It was replaced by the North Beach Bath House in 1898.*^*^



(ca. 1884)** -  View of the Santa Monica Bath House on Santa Monica Beach.  The long, two-story barn-style bath house stands in the background just below the land shelf behind it where a small residence-style house has been built. Crowds of beachgoers make their way towards the water to the left and a few have already made it in.  




(ca. 1885)** -  Photograph of a view of the shore at Santa Monica taken from the Old Santa Monica Hotel. The balcony of the Old Santa Monica Hotel is visible in the left foreground while a long stable-style building stands surrounded with people in the distance. Horse-drawn carriages park and drive along the perimeter of a crescent of post-and-rail fence that demarcates a clearing at center behind which people are seated under a gazebo. Some kind of frame, possibly for the wall of a new building, has been erected to the far left. The ocean is visible in the background.  



Santa Monica Hotel

(1885)* - Santa Monica's first hotel, the Santa Monica Hotel, on Ocean Avenue between Colorado and Utah (now Broadway). Tracks can be seen in the lower right of photo.  


Historical Notes

The Santa Monica Hotel, the town's first, was constructed in 1885 to accommodate the increase in tourism resulting from the construction of the new railroad line.*^



(1885)* - A closer view of the short-lived Santa Monica Hotel which burned down in 1887.  




(1885)* - A clearer image of the Santa Monica Hotel showing several people standing on the porch.  




(1885)* - An even closer view of the Santa Monica Hotel with what appears to be hotel guests standing on the porch and balcony looking toward the photographer.  




(ca. 1887)* - The Santa Monica Hotel can be seen on the Palisades, which overlooks the beach at Santa Monica. Several people are standing or sitting on the veranda of the building on the right. A stairways (right) gives easy access from the Palisades to the beach. The two single-story structures in the lower center are Santa Monica beach's first bathouses.  


Historical Notes

The first bathhouse on Santa Monica’s beach was built by Michael Duffy beneath the Santa Monica Hotel in 1876 and had 2 structures with 16 rooms with their own freshwater bath and shower. It closed in 1892.*^*^

During the ensuing years several other bathouses were built at the same site. Bathouses, featuring hot saltwater baths, were a big tourist draw to Santa Monica in the late 1800s and early 1900s.*




(ca. 1887)* - Looking at the shoreline from the pier showing the Santa Monica Hotel and bathhouse on Sunset Beach between Colorado and Utah (now Broadway).  


Historical Notes

In 1887 the Santa Monica Hotel burned down. That same year the owner of the former Santa Monica Hotel, J. W. Scott, constructed a massive new hotel, the Arcadia Hotel. It was located near the site of the original Santa Monica Hotel at the corner of Ocean Avenue between Colorado and Pico Boulevard. The luxurious Arcadia Hotel had 125-rooms and featured the latest amenities.*


* * * * *




(1889)** - Photograph of people at the shore on Santa Monica Beach. Beach houses and vendor's tents stand along the back end of the beach while a crowd of people moves into the surf at left from the shore. Mountains and trees can be seen above the cliff side in the background. Written-in text on the bottom of the image reads "Surf Bathing at Santa Monica".  





(1880s)* - View of the mouth of the Santa Monica Canyon, originally part of the Rancho Boca de Santa Monica (mouth of the Santa Monica).  


Historical Notes

In 1769, Francisco Reyes journeyed to Alta California to help establish Franciscan missions and claim the land for Spain. Soldiers gave the name Santa Monica to a mountain creek that flowed to the Pacific. #*




(1900)#^- Panoramic view of Santa Monica Canyon and coastline.  





(1900)* - Exterior of the Pascual Marquez adobe built about 1845 on the Boca de Santa Monica rancho. The adobe appears delapidated now.  


Historical Notes

After Mexico won its independence from Spain, Francisco Reyes' grandson Ysidro and his neighbor, Francisco Marquez, were granted 6,656 acres of the Rancho Boca de Santa Monica (mouth of the Santa Monica). They built the area's first permanent structures. #*



(ca. 1900)#^^ - Image of the adobe house built by Pascual Marquez located in Santa Monica Canyon.  Ernest Marquez Collection  


Historical Notes

Remarks from donor Ernest Marquez, 2015: "The adobe house was built by my grandfather Pascual Marquez in 1875, about 75 yards from the adobe where he was born, built by his father Francisco in 1839. I think Pascual’s adobe collapsed in an earthquake in the 1930s."  



(1880s)* - View of the mouth of the Santa Monica Canyon showing tents along the north canyon walls and on the beach.  


Historical Notes

During the second-half of the 19th-century, the canyon was known as a camping area and rustic retreat near the beach hotels and resorts of nearby Santa Monica.^##*




(1880s)* -Near the mouth of the Santa Monica Canyon showing the summer camps in the 1880s. A man can be seen sitting on a horse.  





(ca. 1890s)* - View of a campground located on the Rancho Boca de Santa Monica in Santa Monica Canyon, which once belonged to the Marquez Family. The family allowed visitors throughout the Los Angeles area to camp there and enjoy the scenery and the cool ocean breezes.  


Historical Notes

In the late 1880s, Abbot Kinney, the developer best known for designing the nearby community of Venice to the south, established an experimental forestry station and planted eucalyptus trees, for which the canyon is still known today.^##*





(ca. 1890s)* - People in folk costumes are camping in tents in Santa Monica Canyon probably in the 1890s.  


Historical Notes

Despite the challenges of Mother Nature, the beauty and peace of The Canyon began attracted near-by Angelenos. A small grocery store sold fresh produce and items from the local Rancheros and small tents dotted the mouth of The Canyon for picnicking and camping.^##*





(ca. 1887)** - Photograph of a group of about 30 people (men, women and children) posing in front of Pascual Marquez's bath house -- the first bath house in Santa Monica Canyon. A stagecoach -- the Santa Monica Canyon State -- drawn by a two-horse team stands in front. An American flag flies from the roof of the single-story wood structure. The nearly vertical rocky canyon wall looms behind. A sign on the roof reads "Pascual Marquez bath house".  


Historical Notes

These type of horse-drawn wagons transported visitors from Los Angeles to Santa Monica before the arrival of train service to the area.





(ca. 1880s)^#^# - First stage and mail service operated in 1880s between Santa Monica and Topanga Canyon.  


Historical Notes

The 1st mail wagon was established by "Aunt Lucy" Cheney and began service in 1880. It provided mail service between Santa Monica and Topanga Canyon. They began to carry passengers (as shown here) in 1885. Also pictured is "Uncle Mose" Cheney.^##^





(ca. 1887)** – Panoramic view showing the old Bath House looking north at North Beach, Santa Monica. The beach is deserted except for a group of 2 or 3 people. A long covered boardwalk runs along the front of the bath house. A tall smokestack sticks up above the bath house. The billboard on one roof at right reads "Our Brew".  





(1880s)#^^ - View  showing people on the beach and in the ocean in front of the Santa Monica Bath House, with sign "Hot Salt Water" and beach houses in Santa Monica, with a horse-drawn wagon at center-right.  





(1887)*^ - View of Santa Monica Beach looking north in 1887. The Palisades can be seen in the background.  





(1887)* - Men are walking and riding bicycles on a beach in Santa Monica. The familiar palisades are visible on the right and the Santa Monica Mountains are visible in the background.  





(1880s)* - View of the pier and beach in Santa Monica in 1880. People are walking on the boardwalk, sitting on the beach, and enjoying the surf. This was considered casual attire in the 1800s.  





(ca. 1887)* - View of Santa Monica beach looking south from Santa Monica Canyon rim. The wharf and newly constructed Arcadia Hotel can be seen in the background. House-tents are seen along the beach.  


Historical Notes

The Arcadia Hotel opened for business in 1887 and was located on Ocean Avenue between Railroad Avenue (later known as Colorado Avenue) and Front (later known as Pico Boulevard). The Arcadia was the largest structure in Santa Monica at the time of its construction. The 125-room hotel was owned by J.W. Scott, the proprietor of the city's first hotel, the Santa Monica Hotel. The hotel was named for Arcadia Bandini de Baker, the wife of Santa Monica cofounder Colonel R. S. Baker.^*





(1880s)#^^ - Visitors to Santa Monica Beach in the 1880s. The pier can be seen in the background with the Arcadia Hotel out of view behind the beach shack.  




(ca. 1887)* - Exterior view of the east front of the Arcadia Hotel in Santa Monica soon after its construction. It opened in March 1887. It was located on Ocean Avenue immediately south of the bridge over the gulch that was later occupied by Roosevelt Highway.  


Historical Notes

Being located on a bluff, all 125 rooms in the 5-story building boasted unobstructed views. It featured a grand ballroom, upscale dining room and its own roller coaster. A bathhouse was located on the beach directly below the hotel, offering guests hot saltwater baths.*^*^

The pinnacle of the hotel was an observation tower, offering breathtaking views in every direction a dizzying 136 feet above the beach level.*^*




(1888)#^^ - View showing the Thompson Gravity Switchback Railroad (aka Switchback Roller Coaster) on the left, which traveled across the ravine between the Arcadia Hotel (not pictured) and the north side of the Southern Pacific Railroad tracks. The Santa Monica Hotel is seen at center left of image across the bridge and a railroad track and train are seen at right.   





(ca. 1887)*^* - The 'Switchback Rollercoaster' with the Arcadia Hotel in the background.  


Historical Notes

A special delight for guests was a two-track gravity switchback roller coaster, which in a one minute journey, could whisk guests either to or from the hotel and back again, all for the price of a nickel.*^*




(1880s)#^^ - View of the roller coaster in motion halfway between the Arcadia Hotel and its end point on the Santa Monica bluffs.  





(ca. 1887)#^^ - View showing several men and women in a roller coaster as it comes to the end of its ride across the Santa Monica bluffs. In the background is seen the Arcadia Hotel with a flag flying high from the top of its observation tower.  



Click HERE to see more Early Southern California Amusement Parks.





(1890)* - Hotel Arcadia - 'The Most Elegant Resort on the Coast....with Passenger Elevators!'  




(1890)* - Arcadia Hotel from the street side. The hotel was named for Arcadia Bandini de Baker, the wife of Santa Monica cofounder Colonel R. S. Baker.  


Historical Notes

The Arcadia Hotel was the site where Colonel Griffith J. Griffith shot his wife in 1903, which led to their divorce and his (short) imprisonment.*^

In 1882 Griffith moved to Los Angeles and purchased approximately 4,000 acres of the Rancho Los Feliz Mexican land grant. On December 16, 1896, Griffith and his wife Christina presented 3,015 acres of the Rancho Los Feliz to the city of Los Angeles for use as a public park. Griffith called it "a Christmas present." After accepting the donation, the city passed an ordinance to name the property Griffith Park, in honor of the donor. Griffith later donated another 1,000 acres along the Los Angeles River.*^



(1890s)* - View of the Arcadia Hotel from the street. The landscaping is now more fully developed.  


Historical Notes

The Arcadia Hotel was a landmark, hailed as one of the finest hotels in Southern California in its day. However, like many hotels in the area, the Arcadia hotel was forced to close in times of slow business; the hotel closed for one year from 1888-1889, and permanently in 1906 when the building boom subsided. In 1907, there was a failed attempt to convert the hotel into a private school for the California Military Academy, but the property stood abandoned until it was demolished in 1909 to make room for beach improvements, homes, and hotels.^*





(1890s)* - Panoramic view of the Arcadia Hotel looking towards the ocean. In front of the hotel are extensive, well manicured lawns and gardens.  






(1890s)* - View of the Arcadia Hotel from the pier. Several buildings along the seashore can also be seen.  




(ca. 1890)* - Another view from the pier showing the Arcadia Hotel on Santa Monica South Beach behind the Arcadia Bath House.  





(1890)* - A closer view of South Beach. People are walking and sitting in front of the Arcadia Bath House with the Arcadia Hotel sitting in the background.  




(ca. 1892)** - Photograph of the Arcadia Hotel and Bath House in Santa Monica, ca.1892-1898. The beach is at low tide and to the far right, the ocean can be seen crashing against the shore. Groups of people play or walk in the surf while others sunbathe on the sandy beach. To the far left, sits the large four-story wooden Arcadia Hotel with a turret on its roof. Along the base of the hotel, a tented pavilion is visible on the beach. Legible signs include: "Arcadia Bath House" and "Clam Chowder”  





(1890)* - People walking on the Santa Monica Beach boardwalk. A horse-drawn carriage (center of photo) appears to be heading south along the sand, parallel to the boardwalk.  





(ca. 1895)** - View of South Beach looking north toward the Arcadia Hotel and Palisades. The long boardwalk can be seen extending all the way to the hotel.  





(1888)* - Bathhouses on the beach near Santa Monica with the Arcadia Hotel standing in the background. The pier can also be seen.  





(ca. 1891)* - View looking south of the Arcadia Hotel and the Arcadia Bath House. The Southern Pacific Railroad tunnel is seen at center. At right are the '55 steps' that enabled visitors to have quick access to the beach below.  


Historical Notes

In 1891, the Southern Pacific Railroad built a tunnel under Ocean Avenue for its new rail line to Santa Monica Canyon that was later sold to the Pacific Electric Railway . The rail line was in use from 1891 to 1933.




(ca. 1891)#^^ – View showing a Southern Pacific train emerging from a tunnel, with the Arcadia Hotel in the distance on the right.  


Historical Notes

In 1936, the Southern Pacific Tunnel was enlarged for vehicular use (later renamed McClure Tunnel) and connected Lincoln Boulevard with the Roosevelt Highway (later PCH).  Click HERE to see more.




(ca. 1905)^^ - Spectators stand on a partially destroyed boardwalk looking at the damage in the aftermath of a storm.  A man on horseback is seen on the beach and the Arcadia Hotel stands in the background.  





  (1910s)*^^ - Neighboring Venice Beach sign. (Truth or Fiction??)  





(1890)* - Group photo of men and women in their bathing suits, standing in ankle deep water on Santa Monica beach.  





(1890)* - People in front of their house-tents near the Santa Monica beach in 1890.





(1890)* - View of an unpaved Ocean Avenue showing large residences and many trees lining the sidewalk.  





(ca. 1890)** - View of Senator Jones residence (later the site of the Miramar Hotel) in Santa Monica showing front lawn across drive. A footpath leads from the drive to the house and is crossed by another path which goes around the house. The house itself has two round turrets in front.  





(ca. 1890)* - Closer view of Senator John P. Jones' residence on Ocean Avenue.  


Historical Notes

Senator Jones built a mansion, Miramar, and his wife Georgina planted a Moreton Bay Fig tree in its front yard in 1889. The tree is now in the courtyard of the Fairmont Miramar Hotel and is the second-largest such tree in California, the largest being the tree in Santa Barbara.*^

In 1924 Senator Jones’ mansion became the grand Miramar Hotel.*



(1937)* - Exterior view of the entrance to the Miramar Hotel in Santa Monica, located on the northeast corner of Ocean Park and Wilshire Blvds. It is one of Santa Monica's oldest landmarks, dating back to 1888.  


Historical Notes

Originally the location of Santa Monica's founding father Senator Jones mansion, the Miramar has provided shelter for rich and famous guests looking for an extended beach stay since the 1920s. Notables include Cary Grant, John F Kennedy, Charles Lindbergh and Eleanor Roosevelt.*^*^

In 1924 the six-story Palisades Wing was constructed to provide apartments for guests who planned lengthy stays at the beach. Scandinavian beauty Greta Garbo was one of the first celebrity guests to move into the wing and resided there for more than four years.

Sultry blonde Jean Harlow rented one of the Miramar's bungalows in the early 1930s, and years later another famous blonde, Marilyn Monroe, frequently retreated to the Miramar when she wanted to disappear from the media.***^





(1891)** – Photo of a map of Santa Monica and vicinity as it appeared in 1891.  Santa Monica can be seen in the lower left corner, near a small part of the Pacific Ocean. Mountains are visible above Santa Monica, and the city of Los Angeles can be seen in the lower right corner.  


Historical Notes

The above map was prepared by the Title Guarantee & Trust Company in 1935.  Other landmarks on the map include, from left to right, top to bottom: Calabasas, Santa Susana Pass, Chatsworth, Fremont Pass, San Bernardo, El Mission de San Fernando, Tujunga Canyon, Verdugo Mountains, Burbank, Glendale, Laurel Canyon, Cahuenga Pass, La Canada, Verdugo Canyon, Pasadena, Santa Monica Mountains, Sepulveda Canyon, Franklin Canyon, Sherman, Laguna, La Brea, Brea Pits, Hollywood, Colegrove, Bath House, Canon de Santa Monica, Casa de Reyes, Casa de Marquez, Rodeo de las Aguas, Las Cienegas, Westlake Park, Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Rincon de los Bueyos, and La Ballona.**




Santa Monica Long Wharf

(ca. 1893)**^ - The longest wharf in the world located off Pacific Palisades. A train can be seen close to the shoreline while several ships are seen near the end of the long wharf.  


Historical Notes

When the Southern Pacific Railroad arrived at Los Angeles, a controversy erupted over where to locate the city's main seaport. The SPRR preferred Santa Monica, while others advocated for San Pedro Bay. The Long Wharf was built in 1893 at the north end of Santa Monica to accommodate large ships and was dubbed Port Los Angeles. At the time it was constructed, it was the longest pier in the world at 4700 feet, and accommodated a train.*^

However, just a short four years after the Long Wharf's construction, San Pedro Bay was chosen over Santa Monica to be the main seaport of Los Angeles. Click HERE to see more in Early Views of San Pedro and Wilmington.




(ca. 1893)++ - Aerial view of the Southern Pacific Mammoth Wharf, Port Los Angeles, Calif. The wharf was also known as the old Santa Monica Long Wharf, north of Canyon. A white cloud of smoke can be seen from a train travelling on the tracks to the business end, at the end of the wharf.  





(1895)^^ - View of the Southern Pacific wharf as seen through the hillside canyon.  





(1893)** - View of the entire length of the Long Wharf from the beach all the way to its extremity almost a mile away. Note the RR turntable in the lower right corner. A horse-drawn carriage can be seen on the beach between the rail cars and the wharf. Empty railcars sit on a bridge over a gully.  




(ca. 1890s)* - Southern Pacific Mammoth Wharf, built in 1893. Well dressed men are seen standing near a train on the 4700 foot-long wharf.  





(1893)* - This photograph shows the arrival of the first steamer at the Southern Pacific wharf in 1893.





(1898)* - Photo shows the business end of the mammoth wharf in Santa Monica. Several fully loaded railcars can be seen.  


Historical Notes

In 1897, San Pedro Bay, now known as the Port of Los Angeles, was selected by the United States Congress to be the official port of Los Angeles (Port of Los Angeles) over Santa Monica. Still, the Long Wharf acted as the major port of call for Los Angeles until 1903. Though the final decision disappointed the city's residents, the selection allowed Santa Monica to maintain its scenic charm. The rail line down to Santa Monica Canyon was sold to the Pacific Electric Railway, and was in use from 1891 to 1933.*^

Click HERE to see more in Early Views of San Pedro and Wilmington.




(ca. 1893)* - Southern Pacific wharf, 4700 feet long, for the projected Port of Los Angeles. View is from the end of the wharf towards the shore. A train is seen heading toward to end of the wharf. To the upper right of the photo lies the mouth of the Santa Monica Canyon.  




(1894)** -  A composite image showing 4 areas of the Southern Pacific Railroad Long Wharf: the wharf extending from the coast to its terminus in the ocean, ships surround the terminus and a train is visible on the tracks (middle of image); close-up of ship's prow showing anchor and figurehead of a half-nude woman (upper left); encircled by a doubly knotted rope is a docked sailing ship, on the dock are piles of dry goods (upper right); close-ups of 2 large ships (sailboat & steamer) and several smaller sailboats (lower left).   


Historical Notes

In 1897, San Pedro Bay, now known as the Port of Los Angeles, was selected by the United States Congress to be the official port of Los Angeles (Port of Los Angeles) over Santa Monica. Still, the Long Wharf acted as the major port of call for Los Angeles until 1903. Though the final decision disappointed the city's residents, the selection allowed Santa Monica to maintain its scenic charm. The rail line down to Santa Monica Canyon was sold to the Pacific Electric Railway, and was in use from 1891 to 1933.*^

Click HERE to see more in Early Views of San Pedro and Wilmington.



(ca. 1912)* - View of a Japanese fishing village, located north of the Long Wharf, 1/4 mile north of the entrance to Santa Monica canyon and just north of Will Roger's State Beach.  


Historical Notes

Adjacent to the wharf, and extending northwest to the mouth of Temescal Canyon, a Japanese fishing village was established in 1899 by fisherman Hatsuji Sano on land leased from the railroad. Eventually the home of about 300 Japanese families and a small number of Russians, the village also included two hotels. However, this venture was largely abandoned by 1920, by which time most of the fisherman had moved to Terminal Island and the property was condemned.#^^^




(ca. 1916)** -  Panoramic view looking south along the beach toward the Long Wharf.  A collection of beach huts can be seen on the left which were part of a Japanese fishing village.  To the right, the ocean surf can be seen lapping at the shore, with the Long Wharf extending out to deeper water.  





(1890s)^^^ - View from the hills looking toward the mouth of the Santa Monica Canyon. The Long Wharf can be seen in the distance.  


Historical Notes

The Santa Monica Canyon area was experiencing a land boom during the late 1880’s attracting tycoons (either actual or potential) of every industry. One such industrious man was Abbot Kinney who opened the first forestry station in the adjacent Rustic Canyon in 1887. One of his objectives was to test trees, primarily eucalyptus, as cash crops. On 247 acres of land Kinney began planting trees. Despite the success of the trees, it was clear they were not an effective cash crop and Kinney soon sold the property. Notwithstanding a devastating fire in 1904, many of the trees survived creating the plentiful and beautiful eucalyptus groves in Rustic Canyon today. A plaque was dedicated on August 18, 1971, officially designating the eucalyptus groves as a California State Historical Landmark.^##*

Click HERE to see more California HIstorical Landmarks.




(1910)* - View of the mouth of the Santa Monica Canyon with ocean and the Long Wharf in the background.  


Historical Notes

Because of the construction of the nearby Long Wharf, a railroad was built right by the mouth of the Santa Monica Canyon.  The area now became accessible to hundreds of people. Traveling characters enjoyed days of croquet, horseback riding, and, of course, bathing.^##*



(ca. 1910)* - View of Santa Monica Canyon looking south from the north side of the canyon mouth. Several people are seen standing in front of the railroad depot as a car appears to be pulling away.  On the right, a railroad bridge crosses the canyon near the water. The bluff at left distance later became picnic grounds.  


Historical Notes

The railroad depot seen in the above photo is still standing today.  The original 1890’s structure is the entrance to Patrick’s Roadhouse Restaurant, 106 Entrada Drive. The lunch counter and booth area of the restaurant appear to be the original fixtures as well.



(ca. 1910)* - View looking souh from the bluffs overlooking the mouth of Santa Monica Canyon. A train can be seen on the tracks.  


Historical Notes

After San Pedro Bay was selected over the Long Wharf as the location of the new Los Angeles Harbor, the rail line down to Santa Monica Canyon was sold by Southern Pacific Railroad to the Pacific Electric Railway. The track was in use from 1891 to 1933.*^



(Early 1900s)* - Close-up view of buildings in Santa Monica Canyon in the early 1900s.  




(ca. 1880s)* - Entrance to the Santa Monica Canyon looking from the hills toward the ocean. Several buildings are situated at the mouth of the canyon. This photo was taken prior to the construction of the Long Wharf (1893).  




(ca. 1912)** - View of Santa Monica Canyon and Long Wharf.  The entrance to the Santa Monica Canyon is to the right. Railroad tracks and a pole line can be seen running parallel to the beach. The mountains along the Pacific coastline are visible in the distance.  The long dock extends from the beach on the right to a large ship in the open ocean on the left. Tracks can be seen in the foreground.  




(1916)#^ - View showing the F.E. Bundy bathhouse on the beach at the mouth of Santa Monica Canyon. The Pacific Electric tracks to Long Wharf are seen in the distance and Mayberry Road is in the foreground.  


Historical Notes

In November 1919 the Pacific Electric Railway announced they were going to pull down the entire wharf.  By the middle of the next summer not a trace of it was left.**



(ca. 1920s)* - Santa Monica Canyon by the ocean looking across to the Huntington Palisades. Sign on the hillside reads: HUNTINGTON PALISADES. The Long Wharf no longer appears. It was demolished in 1920.  


Historical Notes

Pacific Palisades was founded in 1920 by Dr. Charles Holmes Scott of the Methodist Episcopal Church, who sought permanent roots for his religious community. Scott, along with a delegation of Methodist ministers and laymen, purchased 16.6 acres of Rustic Canyon property (then-owned by scholar and widow Julia Edmond) and 11.8 acres of land adjacent to a forestry station. That same year, the Pacific Palisades Association was established to implement Scott’s plans and to further expand the community — in land and in population. January 14, 1922 was Pacific Palisades’ official “opening day.”

In 1926, the Pacific Palisades Association purchased the land that was owned by the Huntington family of New York. Both a commemorative gesture and a way to benefit from the prestige associated with the Huntington name, the area was deemed “Huntington Palisades.” ^*#




(ca. 1927)* - View of the Santa Monica Bay coastline, showing a lighthouse and bathhouse near the Pacific Palisades. The lighthouse stands at the spot where the Long Wharf used to extend out into the ocean.  


Historical Notes

The Pacific Palisades lighthouse was built as a bathhouse with a working light in 1927. In the early 1930s the structure along with the beach was sold to Will Rogers and later the beach was given to the state of California and renamed the Will Rogers State Beach.*




(ca. 1920s)** - View looking down from the canyon of where the Long Wharf used to extend into the ocean. A lighthouse and bathouse are seen adjacent to a parking lot full of cars.  


Historical Notes

Thomas P. Barber designed the Pacific Palisades lighthouse and bathouse, which accommodated 500 patrons and included a restaurant.*



(ca. 1930)** - View of the lighthouse, restaurant and bathhouse on the Long Wharf outcropping, Roosevelt Highway. Six tables with striped umbrellas can be seen to the left of the restaurant, while several automobiles are parked in front of the building at left.  




(ca. 1930)* - Looking down from Palisades Park in Santa Monica north towards the Lighthouse boathouse and restaurant that stood on Pacific Coast Highway at the point where the Santa Monica Mountains come down to the shore. This is a photograph of a painting by Chris Siemer. The painting was created for display by the L.A. Chamber of Commerce.  




(1927)* - A view of the palisades of Santa Monica, looking north along Roosevelt Highway next to an unbuilt beach (today's Will Rogers Beach).




(1916)** - Birdseye view of the Southern Pacific Long Wharf in Santa Monica, September, 1916. This is the same view as seen in the above photo but 11 years earlier.  


Historical Notes

The Long Wharf, also Port Los Angeles, was the longest ocean wharf in the world at 4700 feet. It was built in 1893 by the Southern Pacific Railroad, and it was destroyed in 1920 by the Pacific Electric Railroad Co.**

The Long Wharf was designated California HIstorical Landmark No. 881. Click HERE to see more California Historical Landmarks in L.A.



(1890s)* - View of Palisades Park in Santa Monica, looking north from present Santa Monica Blvd. On the left is the Santa Monica beach, and the Santa Monica mountains can be seen in the background. The Long Wharf can be seen in the distance.  





(1891)* - View of North Beach looking south towards the Arcadia Hotel. Tent houses line the beach area.  





(ca. 1891)* - View of Santa Monica beach looking north from the observation tower of the Arcadia Hotel. Palisades Park can clearly be seen to the right.  





(ca. 1893)* - Photo of Santa Monica beach taken from the Arcadia Hotel. Eckert and Hopf's Restaurant for hot and cold lunches can be seen on the left, two buildings are marked John Wieland's, and on the far right a Pavilion Restaurant sign can be seen.  





(ca. 1893)* - View of Santa Monica beach is looking north from the Arcadia Hotel observation tower. Palisades Park is on the right and the Santa Monica mountains can be seen in the distance.  





(1898)* - This view of Santa Monica beach is looking north from the foot of Colorado Street. Ocean Avenue and Palisades Park can be seen on the right. The North Beach Bath House (dark building, center-left) is now in view. It was constructed in 1898.  




(ca. 1898)** - Photograph of North Beach Bath House and Eckert & Hopf's Restaurant. The beach is crowded with fully clothed people. Another building is visible in the background. Flags are flying from all towers of both buildings.  





(1894)* - Bird’s eye view looking southeast of Santa Monica from the Arcadia Hotel. The bridge over the gulch that was later occupied by the Roosevelt Highway can be seen in the center of the photo.  





(ca. 1895)** - View of the Santa Monica seaside bluffs (Palisades Park). The Arcadia Hotel and a wharf - forerunner to today’s Santa Monica Pier - are both visible in the distance.  





(1898)* - Panoramic view of Santa Monica looking south from about the line of present Santa Monica Blvd. View is of the original bathing beach, or North Beach, in 1895. The Camera Obscura building can be seen in the distance near the North Beach Pier.  


Historical Notes

The North Beach Pier was built adjacent to the North Beach Bath House in 1898. At 200 feet long, it was a place where guests of the North Beach Bath House could stroll.*^*^

An earlier wharf was built in the same area in 1875 by the Los Angeles & Independence Railroad.*




(ca. 1898)* - View of Santa Monica North Beach from the pier's end. At center is the North Beach Bath House. To the right are the Camera Obscura and Bowling Pavilion.  


Historical Notes

The North Beach Bath House was commissioned in 1898 by the children of Senator Jones. Located on the site of the original Santa Monica Bath House, it was an upscale facility complete with every recreational amenity a guest could imagine. This included everything from a heated plunge to a bowling alley and a restaurant.*^*^



(ca. 1900)#^#* - View of the North Beach Bath House and casino at North Beach in Santa Monica. People mingle in front of Bath House while others swim or sit on the beach. Shows a bowling alley. Signs read: "North Beach Bath House" "Camera Obscura" "Bathing Suits" and "Bowling Pavilion."  






(ca. 1898)* - Crowds of people are shown enjoying the day on the beach in front of the North Beach Bath House. The Camera Obscura building is in the background.  






(ca. 1898)* - Exterior view of Camera Obscura can be seen in the foreground. The beach scene and North Beach Bath House can be seen in the background.  


Historical Notes

The Santa Monica Camera Obscura was an optic device built in 1898 by Robert F. Jones, nephew of Senator John P. Jones, the founder of the City of Santa Monica. “Camera Obscura” means darken chamber. It is a darken room in which the device allows a 360 degree view of the outside surroundings.  Sort of like a pinhole camera, a hole in the roof allows light from outside pass through the hole striking a white board where the image is shown in color but upside down. The camera obscura was known to earlier scholars since the time of Aristole.**^^





(ca. 1900)* - Photo shows Camera Obscura located on the boardwalk of Santa Monica beach. The attendant is seen collecting a 10-cent admission fee from a young man before he enters the darkened chamber.  




(ca. 1907)**^ - View of the Camera Obscura after it was relocated to the top of the Palisades Bluffs.  


Historical Notes

In 1907, the Camera Obscura was given to the city and then relocated to the top of the bluffs. The camera spent almost 50 years documenting life on the Santa Monica beach.^^**




(ca. 1924)** - Postcard view of the famous Camera Obscura, Santa Monica. The structure is a double stairway leading up to a second floor with an open door seen between the two staircases. The surrounding grounds are landscaped with large bushes and flowers planted half circles. In the background to the left is a pier with large buildings built upon it. A woman wearing a hat walks in the foreground. To the left is the Beautiful La Monica Ballroom, opened in 1924.  


Historical Notes

In 1955 the Camera Obscura was installed in the nearby Senior Recreation Center at 1450 Ocean Boulevard where it can still be seen today. Many images of the popular beach community throughout the years are on display to compare to the current view.^^**





(ca. 1895)* - A panoramic view of one of the ocean piers and parks along the ocean before 1900. Huge crowds are on the pier and on the beach next to it.


Historical Notes

In 1895, Abbot Kinney acquired the deed to the coastal strip previously purchased by W.D. Vawter and named the area Ocean Park. It became his first amusement park and residential project. A race track and golf course were built on the Ocean Park Casino. After a falling out with his partners he focused on the south end of the property, which he made into Venice of America.*^

Click HERE to see more in Early Southern California Amusement Parks.





(ca. 1900)* - A long parade line, led by U.S. Navy flag bearers, walks across a pier carrying flowers to be thrown from the pier into the water at the foot of Colorado Ave.  


Historical Notes

Formerly known as Decoration Day, Memorial Day originated after the American Civil War to commemorate the Union and Confederate soldiers who died in the Civil War. By the 20th century, Memorial Day had been extended to honor all Americans who have died while in the military service.*^



(ca. 1898)* - Group photo of the East Side Cycle Club, showing a banner for the club, taken on the beach at Santa Monica near the old North Beach Bath House. The riders are wearing overcoats an over-sized bows.  




(1896)* - Opening of the electric railway from Los Angeles to Santa Monica, April 1, 1896. The extensive Pacific Electric Railroad easily transported to the beaches people from across the Greater Los Angeles Area.  


Historical Notes

The Los Angeles Pacific Railway was built by Eli Clark and Moses H. Sherman, for whom Clark Drive, Shermanton (now West Hollywood), and Sherman Avenue (now Santa Monica Boulevard) were first named. They were early pioneers of interurban electric railways that laid track from downtown to the sea. Their Los Angeles to Santa Monica line opened on April 1, 1896 to an excited beach crowd in Santa Monica.*#




(1896)** – View showing a crowd of people gathered for opening day of the electric car line in Santa Monica, April 1, 1896. The men, women and children are piling off of four cars at center. The finely-dressed crowd stands in front of the cars in the foreground while trees hang over the cars from the left side.  





(1896)* - View is looking north across the bridge on Ocean Avenue, from the Arcadia Hotel. A trolley can be seen on the right. In the middle of the photograph, a sign reads "Arcadia Baths, hot salt baths, new tubs."  





(1897)* - Original wooden house and barn on the Whitaker Ranch located on Centinela Avenue in Santa Monica. Two men and a horse can be seen standing in the small field closest to the house, and a windmill and water tank are visible on the right. The Santa Monica Airport is now located in this same location.


Historical Notes

Santa Monica Airport was originally called "Clover Field" after World War I aviator Lieutenant Greayer "Grubby" Clover, and was home of the Douglas Aircraft company. The first circumnavigation of the world by air took off from Clover Field on St. Patrick's Day, March 17, 1942. At one point, it was the site of the Army's 40th Division Aviation, and became a Distribution Center after World War II.*





(ca. 1897)* - A view of the 500 ft. long Ocean Park pier, built by the Santa Fe Railroad in 1895. This view shows several people standing on the pier as we look towards the ocean.


Historical Notes

In 1891, Abott Kinney and (silent partner) Francis G. Ryan purchased a 1-1/2 mile long, narrow strip of sand dunes along the shore line south of Santa Monica extending from Strand Street to Brooks Avenue from a Captain Hutchinson.  To encourage building, water was brought in, the tract was sewered, board walks laid, and lots leased to persons desiring to put up small cottages.

That same year, Kinney & Ryan (Ocean Park Development Company) built a pier, golf course, horse-racing track, boardwalk and other resort amenities on the northernmost edge of their holdings. They would also give 12 acres to the Santa Fe Railroad so they would extend their Inglewood line north to Kinney and Ryan’s resort.

In 1893, Kinney and Ryan began selling small 25 x 100 foot beach lots priced at $100 and featured piped water.  Tents were erected on the unsold lots and were available to campers for summer rental. Frederick Rindge, who was president of the Los Angeles YMCA, founds a YMCA summer camp on 5 acres of land located on 250ft beach front near Hill St., donated by Kinney who hopes that the YMCA camp will attract people to his beach resort. #^*




(ca. 1897)* - A view of the 500 ft. long Ocean Park pier, built by the Santa Fe Railroad in 1895, and located about 300 feet south of Hill St. Here we are standing on the pier looking toward Ocean Park itself.    


Historical Notes

Kinney and Ryan’s original resort consisted of 150 beach cottages, and a small commercial district along Pier Avenue. A building boom added 40 new beach cottages, several stores, and Kinney’s new 40 acre Ocean Park race course and golf links. The resort would be subdivided and sold to more developers and by 1902, there were over 700 cottages in Ocean Park. #^*






  (1898)#^* - Closer view of Kinney and Ryan's beach cottage resort located near Ocean Park pier.


Historical Notes

In 1898, Ryan died and his widow married Thomas Dudley of Santa Monica who becomes Kinney's new partner.

After 1904, Kinney moved his attention to his Venice of America development (also called Ocean Park at the time) , south of the Santa Monica city boundary.

The history of Venice and Ocean Park are intertwinned. From 1905 to 1925, Ocean Park was developed by people such as Fraser, Merritt Jones, Hart, Hollister and Wadsworth.#^*






(ca. 1889)** - Looking south from the '99 steps' toward the Arcadia Hotel. In the upper left can be seen a man sitting on a bench very close to the edge of the palisades.  




(1891)** - Looking south toward the "99 Steps". Both the pier and the Arcadia Hotel are in the background. At the upper left can be seen a narrow dirt road that runs parallel to the edge of the palisades. Small summer dwellings line the beach all the way past the steps to the pier.  


Historical Notes

Originally known as “Linda Vista Park,” Palisades Park was the first officially-designated public open space in Santa Monica. The land was donated to the City by Santa Monica's founder, Senator John P. Jones, in 1892.*^*^



(ca. 1900)* - A family is camping on an unidentified beach circa 1900. On their tent are written the words, "Fogarty's Camp." A man and woman are sitting on chairs near the tent, while two barefoot boys pose with them. All are wearing street clothes. The tent has an annex behind and is located next to a wooden house.  





(ca. 1891)** - View of the "99 Steps" from the palisades to the beach below. Two small wood buildings -- one storage shed or shack, the other a dwelling or business with a small covered porch -- sit on the adjacent beach. The wooden steps bifurcate near the top at a landing.  


Historical Notes

This wooden staircase, the “99 Steps”, was constructed in 1875 to allow easy access to the beach.  It was located at the foot of Arizona Avenue.  The steps were later altered so that Southern Pacific trains en route to the Long Wharf could pass underneath.^#*




(ca. 1898)#^ - View looking north showing railroad tracks running underneath the '99 Steps' built from the California Incline to the beach in Santa Monica.  


Historical Notes

Southern Pacific Railroad installed a rail line down to Santa Monica Canyon that was later sold to the Pacific Electric Railway. It was in use from 1891 to 1933.




(ca. 1898)* - Santa Monica beach and palisades with a railroad track and a highway running below the cliffs. In the distance are the bathhouse and pier at the foot of Colorado Boulevard. View is looking south towards Santa Monica.  





(ca. 1898)* - View from Santa Monica palisades south toward the pier. A train runs along the beach at the foot of the cliffs. The Arcadia Hotel can be seen in the background.  





(1915)* - View of the '99 Steps' leading from the beach to the area above the palisades at Santa Monica.





(Early 1900s)** - View facing the palisades showing the "99 Steps" connecting the top of the bluffs to the beach. A commercial building (possibly a restaurant) now stands at the foot of the stairs.  




(ca. 1900)*#* - View from the Arcadia Hotel observation tower showing two Southern Pacific excursion trains.  These trains regularly brought beachgoers to Santa Monica. Horse-drawn carriages and a trolley can also be seen.  





(ca. 1900)*#* - Blow-up panoramic view of previous photo showing trains, horse-drawn streetcars and wagons, and dozens of people arriving to spend the day or weekend in Santa Monica.  





(ca. 1904)** -  Birdseye view looking northeast from the Arcadia Hotel (same view as previous photo but about 4 years later). Note how the building in the lower right has been enlarged, also, the addition of trees around the train station at center of photo.  




(1900)* - Beachgoers enjoying the day at Santa Monica Beach. The large building to the right is the North Beach Bath House. Photo is looking north from the pier, at the foot of Colorado Avenue.  




(ca. 1900)* - Children are seen playing on the beach at Santa Monica. The Arcadia Hotel and wharf can be seen in the background.  





(ca. 1900)* - Crowds of people can be seen sitting on the beach and strolling the boardwalk on South Beach in Santa Monica. The Arcadia Hotel is in the upper-left.  





(1900)* - Exterior view of Ocean Park Grammar School.





(1900)** - Panoramic view of Santa Monica looking northeast from Third Street and Arizona Avenue. Trees stand on the side of the street in the foreground. Large houses stand in a row with wide, manicured lawns. More houses can be seen amongst the tree tops that extend to the mountains in the distance.  





(ca. 1900)** - View looking southwest from the tower of the Academy of Holy Names, located on Third Street and Arizona Avenue with the ocean visible in the distance.  Arizona Avenue runs diagonally from lower-left to upper-right where it meets Ocean Avenue.  Today, the Hotel Shangri-La stands on that corner.  





(ca. 1900)**^ – Front view of the Academy of the Holy Names, a flourishing school for girls established by a band of holy sisters, located at 3rd Street and Arizona Avenue in Santa Monica.  


Historical Notes

The Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary had arrived in Santa Monica in July 1899. They opened the Academy of the Holy Names on September 4 of that year in a small frame building on Fourth Street and Arizona. An intense fund-raising drive was launched immediately and a more substantial Academy building was erected in 1900 at Third and Arizona.**




(ca. 1899)*##^ – View of the Bank of Santa Monica located at Third Street and Oregon Avenue (now Santa Monica).  


Historical Notes

By 1899 there were two banks in the City of Santa Monica: Bank of Santa Monica located at Third Street and Oregon Avenue (now Santa Monica Blvd.) and Commercial Co's Bank at 219 Third Street. By the late 1920s there were thirteen financial institutions, including multiple branches. #**#




(ca. 1900)** - View of the corner of Third Street and Santa Monica Boulevard (then named Oregon Avenue). Today the intersection is part of the popular Third Street Promenade retail district.^#  




(ca. 1900)* - Pacific Electric Railway Pasadena and Pacific car labelled "Santa Monica,” seen crossing a street.  


Historical Notes

The Los Angeles Pacific Railroad, started by Moses Sherman and Eli Clark (brother-in-law), had at its peak 180 miles of track in the western portions of Los Angeles County, from Pasadena, California to Santa Monica, running down the coast to Redondo Beach.*^





(1902)#+ -  Postcard view showing passengers enjoying the most famous trolley car trip in the West during the early 1900s – a daylong excursion called the “Balloon Route” from downtown Los Angeles to the beach cities and back again. The trip, billed as “the only ocean voyage on wheels,” covered 101 miles for 100 cents.  


Historical Notes

Moses Sherman and Eli Clark introduced several innovations to trolley car operations in the L.A. area. One of the most popular was the scenic Balloon Route Trolley Trip, the most famous streetcar excursion in the West. Few tourists to Los Angeles missed riding the Balloon Route cars, so named because of the looped shape of the course trolleys would follow.

The excursion consisted of as many as 18 cars daily going from downtown L.A. to Hollywood and then on to Santa Monica and south to other beach cities of Venice, Playa del Rey and Redondo Beach before heading back to downtown through the Palms area. #+




(1910)** - Map of the Los Angeles Pacific Company Electric lines around Los Angeles, including the "Balloon Route" which would bring flocks of tourists to Santa Monica, among other places.  


Historical Notes

The Balloon Route Trolley trip was the featured route of the Los Angeles Pacific, opened in September 1901. The line ran from downtown LA through Hollywood, Santa Monica, Venice Beach, Redondo Beach and back to L.A. via Culver City. The lines stopped at beach resorts and included free entrance to some en-route stops attractions along the way, including: Sunset Boulevard, studio of painter Paul de Longpré, bean fields of Morocco in Beverly Hills, Sawtelle Veterans Home and Old Soldiers' Home in Sawtelle, Long Wharf, Camera Obscura at Santa Monica, Playa del Rey Pavilion for a fish dinner, Redondo's Moonstone Beach, Venice, and Palms - Culver City.*^





(ca. 1900)* - View of the 1500 block on Ocean Avenue, opposite the Pacific Electric Depot. Groups of people can be seen standing outside of the Pacific Cafe and Pacific Garden restaurants.  




(1902)* - Group portrait of department store employees and their families, taken in front of the Pacific Restaurant in Santa Monica. This was their 5th Annual Outing.  




(1902)* - Several people watch the heavy surf at the Santa Monica pier.  





(ca. 1903)** - View showing Ocean Park beach homes looking south toward the pier. Very few people are on the beach. Legible signs include: "Ocean-Park-Hotel, J.G. Holboro, propr.", and "Holboro's Restaurant".  





(1904)* - A mother and child is seen sitting on the beach in front of the Santa Monica Bath House. The bath house is owned by Sen J.B. Jones. A sign shows there is also a pool room, bowling alley and a shooting gallery. The Camera Obscura booth stands at the end of the boardwalk and a long wharf can be seen in the far distance.




(1905)* - A donkey with a blanklet advertising "Maud" to have your picture taken stands in the middle of an unpaved street. Buildings and people are seen behind the wooden board walk.  




Arch Rock

(ca. 1880)** - View of Arch Rock (a stone formation) in Santa Monica, showing a group of men posing along the rocks nearby. The men can be seen in the center and left foreground area while either standing or sitting on rocks. In the center background, the natural rock formation can be observed while the shore is visible in the right. In the background, a ridge extends out across the horizon.  


Historical Notes

One of Santa Monica’s natural wonders was the Arch Rock.  It was so wide that during low tide, horse-drawn wagons could pass through its opening.  It was located on what is now Pacific Coast Highway just south of Topanga Cyn Blvd.

In the early 1890s, a primitive wagon road between Santa Monica and Malibu passed directly through the stony structure.*#*



(1890s)* - A man is seen standing on what appears to be a large rock directly below the natural arch.  


Historical Notes

With improved access, the Arch Rock became a popular destination among excursion parties and day-trippers.*#*



(1890s)* - A horse and buggy are seen passing under the natural arch.  


Historical Notes

The old stage road to San Francisco (later Pacific Coast Highway) passed under the Arch Rock on Santa Monica Beach.* 



(1890s)* - View of the Arch Rock, a natural formation on the old stage road (now Pacific Coast Highway) near Santa Monica. A horse and buggy pass under the natural arch during high tide.  




(1890s)* - View showing three women and a child standing under the arch.  


Historical Notes

For many nineteenth-century tourists, the Santa Monica Arch Rock was the place to see. It became the defining image of the Southern California coast.*#



(ca. 1895)** - View of Arch Rock on the Santa Monica Bay beach, looking north. A horse-drawn carriage is about to drive under it toward the foreground.  


Historical Notes

On the morning of March 24, 1906, the bridge that once spanned the arch's two columns was found crumbled on the ground. Initial reports blamed a rainstorm, but rumors later circulated that work crews constructing a railroad to Ventura had blasted the rock, performing their nefarious deed under the cover of darkness because of public affection for the landmark. In turns out that the railroad was never completed, but some of the grading work was later incorporated into the coast highway.*#*



(ca. 1920)* - View of old Roosevelt Highway (later Pacific Coast Highway) running parallel to the beach in Santa Monica.  




(ca. 1920s)*#* - Site of Arch Rock after its demolition and subsequent highway grading. The arch was demolished in 1906.  


Historical Notes

Today, the Chart House Restaurant (18412 E. Pacific Coast Hwy) is located where the picturesque Arch Rock once stood.*



Castle Rock and Haystack Rock

(ca. 1910)** - Photograph of Santa Monica's Palisades Park and Castle Rock. The conical rock is at center, jutting out from the shoreline above a sandy beach. Behind the rock at left, the Coast Highway can be seen winding its way along the shore. A wooden fence acts a guardrail near the rock.  


Historical Notes

Less than a mile down the coast, Castle Rock survived Arch Rock by several decades. Rising some fifty feet from a sandy beach, the promontory also became a cherished local landmark. In some ways, it functioned as a replacement for Arch Rock, with tourists routinely picnicking on the beach nearby.*#*



(ca. 1920)** - Castle Rock, located between Sunset Boulevard and Coastline Drive north of Santa Monica. A man is seen standing on top of Castle Rock.  





(ca. 1925)** - Haystack Rock and the Family Group, located on the beach beneath Castle Rock.  


Historical Notes

Picture-postcards romantically described Haystack Rock and the Family Group as the place "where the mountains meet the sea". *#*




(1918)**^ - Swimsuit in 1918 Fashion in Los Angeles Modern Postcard. It's difficult to imagine the beach attire in this photograph was once considered risque.





(1924)*^ - View looking northwest showing early model cars passing Castle Rock on the two-lane Roosevelt Highway (now PCH).  





(ca. 1928)** - View of Castle Rock in Santa Monica, looking northwest toward Topanga Canyon. The large conical rock is at center. At its base is a long sandy beach on which small waves are breaking and several people are playing. The Coast Highway is at right and winds its way along the shoreline, coming close to the back of Castle Rock. Several early-model automobiles are parked along the shoulders of the road. The right side of the road is bordered by steep hills.  





(ca. 1930)#^^ - Closer view showing automobiles driving down Roosevelt Highway (later PCH) past Castle Rock in Santa Monica.  


Historical Notes

Roosevelt Highway was improved in 1929-30 and officially named Coast Highway at that time.  The Highway 1 designation came about in 1939*^




(1936)* - Closer view of Castle Rock as seen from the hillside across Roosevelt Highway at Castellamare.  


Historical Notes

Castle and Haystack Rocks appeared as a backdrop in numerous films, and in 1945 Marilyn Monroe posed in front of Castle Rock in one of her first photo shoots.*#*




Villa de Leon

(1920s)** - Postcard view of the Coast Highway at Castle Rock, near Santa Monica. Along the edge of the roadway, numerous cars are parked in one row and tents dot the sandy beach. In the background are large estates atop the mountain, one of which is the Villa de Leon, completed in 1928.  


Historical Notes

The Villa de Leon was named after wealthy wool magnate and entrepreneur, Leon Kauffman, who purchased six elevated lots in the 1920s in the new Castellammare (Castle by the sea) area on the Malibu coast, North of Sunset Boulevard and high above what would soon become Roosevelt Highway, predecessor of the Pacific Coast Highway.^##




(n.d.)^## - View of the Villa de Leon located in the Castellammare area overlooking Castle Rock.  


Historical Notes

Leon Kauffman selected architect Kenneth MacDonald in 1926 to design this 12,000-square-foot palazzo in the Beaux- Arts European tradition. This imposing structure features 35 rooms, including nine bedrooms, 11 bathrooms, a huge grand salon (32’ x 64’), a library, a circular dining room, a butler’s pantry, an elevator and a seven-car garage. The construction price of $1 million (that was a lot of money in the late ‘20s!) included a first-ever central vacuum, several hand-made crystal chandeliers, Italian tiles, imported marbles, hand-carved wooden beams, mahogany paneling from Thailand, magnificent wrought-iron gates, even gold grouting for the Italian tiles. The Villa de Leon took five years to complete.^##



(1930s)* - View showing the coastline and Pacific Coast Highway as seen from the grounds of the Villa de Leon.  


Historical Notes

When first built, the Villa de Leon boasted topiary gardens, a pipe organ and beach access via a private funicular railway, very expensive amenities that have not survived the passage of time.

The Kauffmans lived in the house for five years before Leon’s wife (Clemence) died, and Leon lived only another two years. Their grown son chose not to live in the house, which was overseen by caretakers until 1952, when the estate was settled. In the '70s it was owned by a group of investors. It went on the market in 2005, and it's not clear who owns it now. As recently as April of 2009, it has been used as a special event venue.

Today, many first-time visitors to the adjacent J. Paul Getty Villa mistake the Italianate Revival palazzo, the Villa de Leon, for the Getty Villa museum, not visible from the Pacific Coast Highway.^##




(ca. 1930)** – Birdseye view of the Santa Monica shoreline north from Castellammare Drive.  Villa de Leon sits in the upper right on the edge of the cliffs overlooking Castle Rock below.  




(ca. 1930)** - Automobiles driving on the Pacific Coast Highway at Porto Marina Way. Almost every parking space is taken along the side of the road. Tents, umbrellas, and sunbathers are visible on the beach at left, while Castle Rock can be seen further back on the ocean side of the highway. Large homes are visible on the hills at right in the Castellammare neighborhood , while mountains can be seen in the distance. The site of Thelma Todd's Sidewalk Cafe restaurant is out of frame on the right although still a couple of years in the future (1932).  


Historical Notes

The new Castellammare neighborhood became popular with the Hollywood crowd. John Barrymore, Thelma Todd and Joseph Cotton had homes in the area.^##



(ca. 1931)** – View showing a pedestrian bridge being built over Roosevelt Highway (PCH) at Castellammare.  The bridge provided beach access for residents of the new Castellammare development.  




(ca. 1931)#*#* - View of the Castellammare development following the subdivision but before any houses were built. Pedestrian bridge can be seen down on Roosevelt Highway (PCH) which appears to be a dirt road. (PCH).  




(ca. 1932)** - Birdseye view of the Santa Monica shoreline north from Castellammare Drive. In the foreground, next to the footbridge over the highway, is the Thelma Todd Sidewalk Café, still under construction. Castle Rock is seen in the distance with the Villa de Leon standing watch in the hills above it.  




Thelma Todd's Sidewalk Café

(ca. 1934)** - Close-up view of Thelma Todd's Sidewalk Café located at 17575 Pacific Coast Highway in Pacific Palisades.  


Historical Notes

In the early 1930s, this structure housed a restaurant on the ground floor owned by actress Thelma Todd and her partner Roland West. The duo also held parties in their private nightclub named Joya's, located on the second story near her personal apartment. At the time Todd owned the building, the hexagonal-shaped, third-floor included a dance floor and bandstand, which was famous for its Joya's barbequed steaks.*^



(ca. 1934)^*## - Interior view of Thelma Todd's Sidewalk Café's cocktail room.  


Historical Notes

Thelma Todd appeared in about 120 pictures between 1926 and 1935, she is best remembered for her comedic roles in films such as Marx Brothers' Monkey Business and Horse Feathers, a number of Charley Chase's short comedies, and co-starring with Buster Keaton and Jimmy Durante in Speak Easily. She also had roles in Wheeler and Woolsey farces, several Laurel and Hardy films, the last of which (The Bohemian Girl) featured her in a part that was truncated by her death.*^



(1937)* - View looking south of the three-story, 15,000-square-foot Spanish style Thelma Todd's Sidewalk Café, located at 17575 Pacific Coast Highway in Pacific Palisades.  


Historical Notes

On the morning of December 16, 1935, Thelma Todd was found dead in her car inside the garage of Jewel Carmen, a former actress and former wife of Todd's lover and business partner, Roland West. Carmen's house was approximately a block from the topmost side of Todd's restaurant. Her death was determined to have been caused by carbon monoxide poisoning. Todd had a wide circle of friends and associates as well as a busy social life; police investigations revealed that she had spent the previous Saturday night (December 14) at the Trocadero, a popular Hollywood restaurant, at a party hosted by entertainer Stanley Lupino and his actress daughter, Ida. At the restaurant, she had had a brief but unpleasant exchange with her ex-husband, Pat DiCicco. However, her friends stated that she was in good spirits, and were aware of nothing unusual in her life that could suggest a reason for committing suicide. She was driven home from the party in the early hours of December 15 by her chauffeur.*^



(1935)#^^* – View of Thelma Todd’s Sidewalk Café and the pedestrian bridge crossing over the Roosevelt Highway (now Pacific Coast Highway).  


Historical Notes

The detectives of the LAPD concluded that Todd's death was accidental, the result of her either warming up the car to drive it or using the heater to keep herself warm; however, other evidence, such as a bloodied lip, seemed to point to foul play.*^



California Incline

(ca. 1905)** - View of the Santa Monica shoreline from Palisades Park. The tracks of the Los Angeles & Independence R.R. run where Pacific Coast Highway is today. To the right, a motorcar ascends an early version of the California Incline.  


Historical Notes

The California Incline was originally a walkway known as Sunset Trail, which was cut through the bluffs to provide beach access to pedestrians in 1896.*^



(ca. 1905)** - Early view looking up the California Incline leading from the coast highway to the palisades. There is a walking path to the right of the road.  


Historical Notes

The California Incline was a vital street in Santa Monica, linking the PCH with Ocean Avenue, and California Avenue, bisecting Palisades Park. It begins at an intersection with Ocean Avenue and California Avenue, at the top of the palisades, extending to the PCH at the base of the bluffs.*^



(ca. 1905)* -View shows a wooden fence along an unpaved California Incline. The beach and a long wharf can be seen in the background. The Santa Monica mountains are in the distance. Linda Vista Park (later Palisades Park) is on the right.  


Historical Notes

Originally known as “Linda Vista Park,” Palisades Park was the first officially-designated public open space in Santa Monica. The land was donated to the City by Santa Monica's founder, Senator John P. Jones, in 1892. Additional land was donated by the Santa Monica Land and Water Company. The park was designed by I.E. Le Grande in 1913. It features Craftsman-era stone gates with tiles designed by Ernest Batchelder, picnic areas, a rose garden and scenic overlooks.*^*^




(ca. 1910)^*## – Postcard view showing a woman standing on the California Incline watching a car as it makes its way up the grade. The Long Wharf can be seen in the background.  


Historical Notes

The Long Wharf was built in 1893 at the north end of Santa Monica to accommodate large ships and was dubbed Port Los Angeles. At the time it was constructed, it was the longest pier in the world at 4700 feet, and accommodated a train.*^

However, just a short four years after the Long Wharf's construction, San Pedro Bay was chosen over Santa Monica to be the main seaport of Los Angeles. Click HERE to see more in Early Views of San Pedro and Wilmington.




(1910s)#^^ – View showing an automobile driving south up the California Incline in Santa Monica.  The rustic fence is on the left, and the bluffs on the right.   





(1912)**^ – View looking up the California Incline from near the tracks along the beach.  





(ca. 1913)** - Panoramic view of Santa Monica Beach looking north from the California Street incline. The ocean and shore are visible to the left, down from the cliff along which a paved road runs, lined to either side by a post-and-rail fence made from rough-cut branches. A second, higher road stands directly next to the first, at the right. Mountains are visible stretching out into the water in the background. Plants that appear to have been put there rather than growing naturally stand along the left side of the road.  





(1915)^#* – View of two horse-drawn wagons hauling freight up the California Incline.  





(1916)#*#* – Photo of the California Incline showing a man next to an early model convertible taking on the view of the beach and ocean below.  Also seen is a horse-drawn wagon making its way up the incline. LA Times Photo Archives  





(ca. 1920)** - Entrance to the Sunset Trail at Santa Monica's Palisades Park. The trail is at center and heads down the steep face of the cliffs that give the park its name. The trail is bordered on the left side by a wooden fence made from twisted tree branches. The entrance to the trail is marked by a large wooden sign supported by a wooden framework made of tree trunks. The tops of the cliffs are at right and are covered with an assortment of bushes, and the ocean is visible in the background at left. The Pacific Coast Highway is at the base of the trail in the background at left and is lined with utility poles and beach houses. Sign reads: "SUNSET TRAIL - To Palisades Beach Road"  


Historical Notes

The California Incline was widened and improved in 1929-1930, the same time the coast highway was improved and officially named the Roosevelt Highway.  The Highway 1 designation came about in 1939*^



(Early 1900s)^^ - View looking north from Palisades Park near the top of the California Incline. The long wharf can be seen in the distance.  


Historical Notes

At the time it was constructed, the Long Wharf was the longest pier in the world at 4700 feet, and accommodated a train. Also known as Mammoth Wharf, it stood until 1920 when it was dismantled.*^




(Early 1900s)^^ - Panoramic view shows two people standing by the fence along Palisades Park looking south toward the Santa Monica Pier and the Palos Verdes Peninsula. Another person is seen walking along the fence-lined path. Two large ships are seen between the pier and peninsula.  





(Early 1900s)** -  View of four women strolling down the shady lane of "Lover's Walk", along the bluff in Palisades Park. Scattered trees line either side of the dirt walking path that runs down center. A lone man can be seen sitting on a bench under a tree looking out at the ocean at left.  




(Early 1900s)^ - An early view down the unpaved Pier Avenue in Ocean Park. Several rail lines can be seen in the street. A bank has been built on the left and other multi-story commercial buildings on the right. The cross street is Trolley Way.  


Historical Notes

Although Santa Monica and Ocean Park (South Santa Monica) were both settled at the same time (in the early 1870’s), Ocean Park’s history is somewhat independent from that of the rest of Santa Monica. Separated from the north by a gully which today is occupied by the Santa Monica Freeway, Ocean Park was initially oriented towards the beach where a series of piers and other tourist attractions were erected in 1890 to 1910.^^*#



(1905)*^ - View showing Ocean Park Bank located on the southwest corner Pier Avenue and Trolley Way. A man is sitting on a bench on the side of the bank in front of the tracks. The bank resembles a Greek Temple with its columns.  




(Early 1900s)**^ - View showing two men standing in front of the Ocean Park Bank on Pier Avenue. The Edison Electric Co. shared the building with Ocean Park Bank.  




(1905)* - A view down Pier Avenue showing additonal buildings from what was seen three photos back. The street is filled with pedestrians. Cars and horse-drawn carriages are parked in front of the stores on both sides of the street.


Historical Notes

One of the city’s oldest neighborhoods, Ocean Park sprang to life with Abott Kinney’s 1891 Ocean Park Development Company. Kinney bought a sandy strip of land in Santa Monica’s southwestern edge and began building roads, homes, parks and piers. After 1904, Kinney moved his attention to his Venice of America development (also called Ocean Park at the time), south of the Santa Monica city boundary. The history of Venice and Ocean Park are intertwined.^^*#



(1904)** – Birdseye view of Pier Avenue in Ocean Park showing many horse-drawn vehicles, September, 1904. The unpaved street is at center is being traveled by several carriages as well as pedestrians and bicyclists. Large buildings, most of which are at least two stories high, line both sides of the street. A wooden building at right has a large balcony, while a brick building at left has three stories. Sand bags are piled up near the street at left.; Legible signs include, from left to right, "Pier Restaurant", "Wave Furnished Rooms", and "The Big Pier Store".  


Historical Notes

The southern part of Santa Monica, commonly known as “Ocean Park,” was already an important business center as well as a popular summer resort. With the completion of the bath house and the Decatur Hotel, the building of the Masonic block and many other business blocks on Pier Avenue, Marine street and the ocean front began to put on a metropolitan aspect.^^*#



(ca. 1905)^^^ – View looking down Pier Avenue in Ocean Park. Horse-drawn carriages, early model cars, and people share the street with American flags and banners seen throughout.  





(ca. 1907)^*## – Panoramic view showing Ocean Park circa 1907. The "Wave w/ Furnished Rooms" can be seen in the background. "Lunch Counter" is on the right.  





(1905)* - Crowds of people wearing their fine dress are seen strolling along the boardwalk and sitting on the beach, in front of the North Beach bathhouse in Santa Monica.  






(ca. 1905)** - Panoramic view looking north at the Pier at Venice Beach showing the amusement park and beach. The Ship Cafe is seen on the left.  


Historical Notes

Among the South Bay piers, the most notable in this period was Abbot Kinney's Venice of America pier, started in 1904 and built to rival his former partner's Ocean Park Pier. Located at the end of Windward Avenue in Venice, Kinney's pier was 900 feet long, 30 feet wide and included an Auditorium, large replica Ship Cafe, Dance Hall, Dentzel carousel, a Japanese Tea House and an Ocean Inn Restaurant. Venice soon became considered its own neighborhood.*^






(1905)* - A big crowd is seen behind the large restaurant ship which was a replica of Juan Cabrillo's Spanish galleon. People can also be seen aboard the ship which was located in Venice at the Abbot Kinney Pier.  


Historical Notes

Venice of America was founded by tobacco millionaire Abbot Kinney in 1905 as a beach resort town. He and his partner Francis Ryan had bought two miles of oceanfront property south of Santa Monica in 1891. They built a resort town on the north end of the property called Ocean Park, which was soon annexed to Santa Monica. After Ryan died, Kinney and his new partners continued building south of Navy Street in the unincorporated territory. After the partnership dissolved in 1904, Kinney built on the marshy land on the south end of the property, intending to create a seaside resort like its namesake in Italy.*^




(1906)** – Closer view showing a large number of well-dressed people walking on Abbot Kinney’s Venice of America pier alongside the Ship Café. Handwritten note on verso reads: "Ship Cafe / Venice, Cal. / 12-16-06"  





(1905)* - Nigthtime view of Abbott Kinney's Pier in Venice in 1905.  


Historical Notes

When Venice of America opened on July 4, 1905, Kinney had dug several miles of canals to drain the marshes for his residential area, built a 1,200-foot long pleasure pier with an auditorium, ship restaurant, and dance hall, constructed a hot salt-water plunge, and built a block-long arcaded business street with Venetian architecture. Tourists, mostly arriving on the "Red Cars" of the Pacific Electric Railway from Los Angeles and Santa Monica, then rode Venice's miniature railroad and gondolas to tour the town.*^




(ca. 1905)*^ - A gondolier and boat passes under one of the bridges on the canal route. At the same time a pedestrian and a bicycle rider are passing over the bridge.  


Historical Notes

The beautifully lit canals with gondoliers and arched bridges drew widespread publicity and helped sell lots in Kinney’s Venice development. However, as the automobile gained in popularity, the canals were viewed by many as outdated, and the bulk of the canals were filled in 1929 to create roads.*^




(ca. 1905)*#** - View of the Venice Miniature Railway train crossing over a Venice Canal bridge on its way back to Windward Street at the Venice of America Amusement Park.  


Historical Notes

When Abbot Kinney was building Venice in 1905, he decided that his new resort should have an internal transportation system to shuttle visitors and residents around town. He turned to John J. Coit who operated a successful eighteen inch gauge (1/3rd scale) miniature steam railroad at Eastlake Park (now Lincoln Park) in Los Angeles. He persuaded him to oversee the construction and management of a mile and three quarter long railroad that would take passengers from the Windward Avenue business district on a loop across canal bridges and through the canalled residential district, then return via a loop up Washington Boulevard, past its Lake Avenue maintenance yard and back to the Windward station along Mildred Avenue.*#*#*




(1912)* - Postcard view of the Miniature Railway on Windward Avenue in Venice. The miniature railroad would carry passengers for trips around the Venice streets, including Windward Ave. as shown here, and around the canal area.  


Historical Notes

The cost of a trip around Venice was five cents, although residents could buy a book of tickets for $1.00 which made the run only two cents. At that time, it cost 15 cents to ride from Los Angeles to Venice on the Los Angeles Pacific Railway. *#**



(ca. 1905)** - Several people stroll by the Dance Hall on the Amusement Pier at Venice Beach circa 1905. "Dance Hall / Venice" -- handwritten note on verso.  




(1908)** - Venice Pier on a crowded day with the Dance Hall seen in the background.  




(ca. 1908)* - A view of the front of the Aquarium, with flags flying all around the top of the building.  


Historical Notes

The Venice Beach Aquarium exhibited the finest collection of marine specimens on the Pacific coast. It later became the official marine biological station for the University of Southern California.*



Click HERE to see more in Early Southern California Amusement Parks.





(ca. 1908)* - The exterior of the North Beach Bath House is seen across the street from a row of much smaller buildings, including one which offers "Postal cards while you wait". The bath house (The Venice Plunge) was the largest heated salt-water pool on the west coast.  


Historical Notes

The North Beach Bath House, built in 1894, was for many years the area’s favorite resort facility.  A special feature was the hot saltwater baths.  The admission fee was twenty-five cents.  The building also housed a restaurant, a bowling pavilion and the first Camera Obscura.  At the turn of the century, thousands of people were coming to visit the Santa Monica beach and its attractions.^#*



(ca. 1900)^#* - Interior view of the North Beach Bath House.  





(ca. 1900)* - View of the indoor plunge in Santa Monica-Ocean park. Several people are swimming while spectators (in street clothes) watch from the bleachers along the side.  





(ca. 1900)** - View of a crowded North Beach in Santa Monica with the pier in the background. The boardwalk is also full of people enjoying what appears to be a nice day at the beach.  





(ca. 1900)* - Photo of men wearing suits and finely dressed women, sitting on the sand, standing and walking the boardwalk at North Beach in Santa Monica. The North Beach Bathhouse pier can be seen in the background.  





(Early 1900s)* - Group portrait of eight people, finely dressed, standing on the beach. The pier can be seen in the background.  





(ca. 1900)** - View of eleven young men and women knee-deep in the ocean posing for the photographer.  




(ca. 1908)** - View Santa Monica Beach looking south from the Palisades. The beach is at right, and running next to it is a two-lane paved highway. Making its way parallel to the road is a railroad. There are tall cliffs at left, covered in a variety of plants and trees. A small group of buildings is visible at center near the water, and a long pier juts out into the ocean from near these buildings. There is a shorter pier in the foreground, and two people can be seen walking along the sand at right.  




(ca. 1910)* – Closer view showing railroad tracks running parallel to an old dirt road along the Santa Monica beach front. This site is now the Roosevelt Highway. In the background, a long pier can be seen stretching out, and into the water.  




Ocean Park Bath House

(ca. 1908)## – Panoramic view looking south from Ocean Park Pier in Santa Monica.  The beautiful Ocean Park Bath House, built in 1905, is seen on the left.  





(1905)** - View of Moorish style Ocean Park Bath House, nearing completion. Round turrets rise from each of the corners as well as over the main entrance. Rows of arched or round windows line the exterior of the three-story building on the beach. Laborers are seen working near the entry.  


Historical Notes

When it was built in 1905, the Ocean Park Bath House was one of the most elaborate structures on Santa Monica's beach. It was Moorish in style, 3 stories high with 5 domes. An ad from 1906 claimed it had the largest swimming pool in the US.*^*^




(Early 1900s)* - Crowded shoreline in front of the Ocean Park Bathhouse at Ocean Park Beach.  


Historical Notes

Looking more like a movie set, the Ocean Park Bath House was one of the most talked about buildings of its day-and a great draw for the beach area. The lavish indoor plunge (heated for those who didn’t take to cooler ocean swimming) was built by A.R. Fraser. ^^*#




(Early 1900s)* - Heavy crowd day on the beach and in front of the Ocean Park Bath House.  


Historical Notes

In 1903 Alexander Rosborough Fraser built the Ocean Park Casino, and in 1905 erected the Ocean Park Bath House. In 1906 he built the Ocean Park Auditorium, the Masonic Temple and the Decatur Hotel. In 1911 “Fraser’s Million Dollar Pier,” was completed, extending 1000 feet over the ocean and housing a multitude of amusements, including a beautiful dancing pavilion. Destroyed by fire in 1912. Fraser built numerous improvements in Ocean Park, and is responsible for the construction of the concrete promenade which joins Ocean Park with Venice. #^*



(ca. 1910)* - A view of the bath house set along the beach in Ocean Park. Hundreds of visitors are sitting or standing on the beach and in the rolling waves of ocean water.  





(Early 1900s)* - Crowded beach at Ocean Park in front of the Bath House.  





(ca. 1920)** - Exterior view of the Ocean Park Bath House in Santa Monica from the pier. The bath house is at center and is a large Moorish-style building. At the center of the building is an elaborate entry way consisting of a large domed tower surrounded by four tall spires. Smaller domed towers occupy the corners of the buildings. Awnings project from the bottom story of the building, and rows of round windows occupy the second and third stories.  


* * * * *




(1910)* - View shows two automobiles driving on the l400 block of 3rd Street in Santa Monica. The Adelaide apartments can be seen on the left.  






(1912)*#* - Spectators line Nevada Avenue (later Wilshire Boulevard) to watch a racing event.  






(ca. 1912)* - Two-man race cars take a turn at a race in Santa Monica. The course covered San Vicente Boulevard, Ocean Avenue and Wilshire Boulevard (then named Nevada Avenue).  


Historical Notes

Auto racing became popular in Santa Monica. Drivers would race an 8.4-mile loop made up of city streets. The Free-For-All Race was conducted between 1910-1912. The United States Grand Prix was held in Santa Monica in 1914 and 1916, awarding the American Grand Prize and the Vanderbilt Cup trophies. By 1919, the events were attracting 100,000 people, at which point the city halted them.*^




(1910)** - A crowd watching an automobile race near Ocean Avenue in Santa Monica. The cars have just turned from Ocean Avenue onto Nevada Avenue (later Wilshire Boulevard). This was called the "Death Curve".  




(1914)+++ - Harry Grant, two-time winner of the Vanderbilt Cup Races, driving the #1 Isotta passes the grandstands on the east side of Ocean Avenue.  


Historical Notes

Both the 1914 and 1916 Vanderbilt Cup Races were held on the beautiful Santa Monica road course bordering on the Pacific Ocean.

The Santa Monica 8.4-mile course consisted of three major roads; Ocean Avenue (location of the start/finish), Wilshire Boulevard and San Vicente Boulevard. The race was 35 laps for a total of 295 miles. +++



(1914)+++ – View showing the "Death Curve", located at the corner of Ocean Avenue and Wilshire Boulevard.  


Historical Notes

In the 1914 Vanderbilt Cup Races, Eddie Pullen's #4 Mercer lost its front right tire at the "Death Curve" and moments later crashed into the barricade. Two days later, Pullen won the 400-mile American Grand Prix on the same course with the same car. +++




(ca. 1916)^^+– View showing the dramatic Santa Monica finish line where Eddie O'Donnell takes the checkered flag in his Number 19 Duesenberg.  





(1910)* - Exterior view of Jefferson School located at 1333 Sixth Street in Santa Monica.  


Historical Notes

Jefferson school, originally called 6th St. School, was Santa Monica's first school building and was located on two lots on the east side of 6th St. between Santa Monica Blvd. and Arizona. This first school was a frame building and was erected in 1876.*#^




(1903)#^ - Exterior view of Santa Monica City Hall the year it was built, located at the southwest corner of 4th and Oregon (Santa Monica Boulevard). Architect: Carol Brown, addition by Henry Hollwedel.


Historical Notes

In 1903, Santa Monica constructed its first independent city hall at a site that was then just east of downtown’s main commercial core. Choosing the Mission Revival architectural style, it featured massive brick walls covered with stucco, arcades, arched windows, elevated scalloped parapets, and a corner tower.*##^




(ca. 1917)#^# – Postcard view showing the old Santa Monica City Hall, located at Santa Monica Boulevard and Fourth Street.  


Historical Notes

Santa Monica’s library shared space in City Hall, and a notorious dungeon-like jail was located in the basement that drew indignant protests from female civic leaders who demanded better conditions for the city’s prison population. Later a new jail adjacent to City Hall was built by Henry Hollwedel.*##^




(1930s)^#* - View of the old City Hall as it appeared in the 1930s. The building shared space with the Police Dept.  


Historical Notes

The old City Hall building was demolished in the late 1930’s. S. H. Kress & Co bought the property and erected a new store to replace the store on 3rd street. This building has since been demolished for new development, but the 3rd Street building survives.*##^

Today’s City Hall at 1685 Main Street replaced this earlier structure in 1939.^#*




(ca. 1919)*^ - Postcard view of Santa Monica High School located at 601 Pico Boulevard.  


Historical Notes

Santa Monica High School was founded in 1884. It changed location several times in its early years before settling into its present campus at 601 Pico Boulevard. The "new" campus opened in 1906 with one building, the current History building, with an enrollment of 50 students. The school sits on the hilltop of what is now 6th Street and Pico Boulevard, from which one can see the Pacific Ocean.*^




(1924)** - Exterior view of Santa Monica High School, showing the main entrance and right wing. The main entrance to the multi-story brick building is seen at left center. The right wing, its walls covered in ivy, protrudes toward the foreground. The building is fronted by lawns and palm trees. A paved street and sidewalk run diagonally through the lower right of the image. The high school building was erected in 1912 and replaced during 1936 and 1937.  


Historical Notes

In 1916 the campus was expanded with construction of the English building. In 1921, the Open Air Memorial Theatre (now called the Greek Amphitheatre) was built to honor the Santa Monicans who served in World War I. One of the best examples of the classical Greek style in Southern California, the amphitheatre was built after Santa Monica passed a $30,000 bond measure to fund its construction. Barnum Hall Theater, originally called "the Auditorium," was built in 1937 by the Works Progress Administration (WPA) to be the Civic Auditorium of Santa Monica and host school events as well. The campus also added six buildings during this period: the Language, English, Business, History, Administration and Music buildings.

In 1952, Santa Monica High School was finally expanded to what it is now, 33 acres, and two new buildings were built, the Science and Technology D.M. buildings. As the school aged, renovations took place in Barnum Hall and the Music building was completely rebuilt.

The school has been a location in a number of films. Most famously, it is the high school setting in Rebel Without a Cause where James Dean walks up the History Building stairs.*^




(1912)* - View of the seashore at Ocean Park Beach in Santa Monica. Amusement park can be seen on the pier. The roller coaster seen above was called Ingersol's Scenic Railroad. It was the first roller coaster to be installed in the Santa Monica Bay area.  


Historical Notes

Amusement piers became enormously popular in the first decades of the 20th century. The extensive Pacific Electric Railroad easily transported to the beaches people from across the Greater Los Angeles Area. Competing pier owners commissioned ever larger roller coaster rides. Wooden piers turned out to be readily flammable, but even destroyed piers were soon replaced. There were five piers in Santa Monica alone, with several more down the coast.*^



(ca. 1912)^*## – Postcard view showing a man and two young girls walking along the beach with the Ocean Park Scenic Railway Roller Coaster in the background.  


Historical Notes

In 1904, Ingersol's Scenic Railroad was the first roller coaster to be installed in the Venice / Ocean Park area.^#*#




(1912)* - View from Santa Monica Beach of Ocean Park.  


Historical Notes

The earliest part of the current Santa Monica Pier, which is now the last remaining amusement pier, was built in 1909 on what was referred to as the North Bay. The second half, an amusement park pier, was built later and the two rival piers were merged.*^




(ca. 1910)#^#* – Waiting for a Bite, Ocean Park – Several people are seen leaning on railings and fishing from Ocean Park Pier.   One man is holding a bamboo (cane) fishing rod. Sign on the building in the background reads: "Roof Garden Now Open".  




(ca. 1910)** -  View of the casino and band stand at Ocean Park in Santa Monica. The two-story brick building is at center. It has a wooden ramp leading up from the sandy beach to the entryway at center. The roof of the building is flat and has an open observation deck. Four towers are visible, one on each corner, and a sign over the arched entryway identifies the building as a casino. A man is standing near the entrance, and another is visible in the foreground at right. Several benches can be seen in the sand in front of the casino, and American flags fly from the top of the building.  




(1912)* - Large crowds are gathered near a concert shell in Ocean park. There are more people than seats. Edges of buildings of several businesses can also be seen such as real estate and restaurants. An early model car and several horse-drawn wagons are parked in the foreground.  




(ca. 1910)** - Closer view of the Ocean Park bandstand showing Harry Moore's band playing in front of a crowd. Dozens of people, many holding umbrellas, are seated in chairs in front of the band, watching. Attached to the bandstand at right is a casino, and a pier juts into the water behind the bandstand building. More people can be seen seated on benches at left near the water's edge. A small shack on the edge of the pier is adorned with the words "Wharf Fish and Tackle Co. Poles for Rent".  





(ca. 1911)** – Postcard view showing Fraser's Million Dollar Pier, Ocean Park. Fraser's Dance hall, the roller coaster, and Starland Theater can be seen on the pier, with a boardwalk and beach in the foreground.  





(ca. 1911)* - View of the Lick's Dome Pier at Ocean Park.


Historical Notes

In 1911, Charles Lick added Lick Pier to the new Million Dollar Pier. They were both destroyed by fire in 1912 and again in 1924. The Lick Pier was rebuilt both times. The pier was finally done in by a fire in 1970, after which it was not rebuilt.*^*^




(Early 1900s)^^ - A crowded day at the Ocean Park Pier in Santa Monica.  


Historical Notes

The Ocean Park Pier, a combination of two piers: Million Dollar Pier and Lick Pier, burned down in 1912. In its place was rebuilt Fraser's Million Dollar amusement pier, which claimed to be the largest in the world at 1250 feet long and 300 feet wide. The pier housed a spacious dance hall, two carousels, the Crooked House fun house, the Grand Electric Railroad, the Starland Vaudeville Theater, Breaker's Restaurant and a Panama Canal model exhibit. It too burned within the year.*^




(1912)** - View showing people working to extinguish the fire on the Ocean Park pier in Santa Monica, 1912. The fire is blazing in the distance at left. A group of onlookers is gathered at center as is watching as firemen drag a large hose towards the building. The dirt road at center is muddy from the water used to fight the fire. An early automobile can be seen at left, and a large horse-drawn wagon is parked near the edge of the street at left. A collection of two-story buildings lines the road.; Legible signs include, from left to right: "Brown Block", "Cafeteria", "Oxford", "Applegate's Café", and "Bay City".  



Click HERE to see more Early Southern California Amusement Parks.





(ca. 1913)** - Photograph of people on the beach in Santa Monica, north of the Rose Avenue Pier. Four people in bathing suits stand in the sand of the beach on the right with the water washing in and out behind them. A tile sidewalk lies on the left where people stay finely dressed in their automobile. A shop can be seen on the far left of the sidewalk further back while a large building stands on the beach in the background.  




(ca. 1915)** -  Birdseye view of the beach in Santa Monica looking south. The beach is a wide, sandy tract of land that extends from the foreground away from the viewer into the distance at center. There are a few people playing in the surf and many people resting beneath umbrellas or tents on the sand. The left side of the beach is bordered by a cement sidewalk, and a large number of pedestrians is walking along the path. At left, a series of two-story beach houses lines the sidewalk. Several early-model automobiles are parked in driveways and alleys near the sidewalk at left. There is a short pier jutting out into the water in the background at center and a large building is constructed near the right side of the pier.   




(ca. 1915)** - View from the second story of a pavilion on the Ocean Park pier, showing shops and beach houses. A portion of roof covered by a cloth canopy is pictured in the left foreground, four sets of tables and chairs spaced regularly under the shade. Over its edge to the right, a collection of small shop fronts can be seen advertising their wares via signs, while farther in the distance at center, an expanse of housing can be seen stretching toward the mountains.; Legible signs from left to right include: "These chairs for patrons only", "Clairvoyant", "Lunch Room", "Ocean Park Review Job Printing", "Cigars and Tobacco", "Ice Cream Parlor", "99 Ocean Park Cafe. Restaurant A la Carte".  




(1915)** - Exterior view of the Las Flores Inn on the coast road near Santa Monica. The inn is at right and has a steeply peaked roof with its name painted near the top. Part of the inn extends back to the ocean behind it. A wooden structure is seen covering tables at left, and there is a fenced-in garden at left. Several cars are parked in front of the inn and the garden, and there are people standing in front of the inn. A horse is tied near the ocean at left.  


Historical Notes

Las Flores Inn was located near where Duke’s Restaurant is today, by Las Flores Canyon.  The coast route ended at Las Flores Canyon until the late 1920s, when the Roosevelt Highway was completed.  Children used to wait here for the school bus to Santa Monica. Their parents played the slot machines at the restaurant and a big win meant soda pops for all. It is said the inn refused to pay "protection fees" and lost their slots, but the Malibu Inn up the road kept theirs.^##



(1916)#^ - View of the Golden Butterfly establishment in Santa Monica Canyon, below Adelaide Drive.  




(1916)#^ - View showing people enjoying the Fourth of July on the beach at the entrance to the Santa Monica Canyon. A large bath house and two piers are seen in the background.  




(1916)#^ – View of the beach at the entrance to Santa Monica Canyon. The Santa Monica Bath House is seen in the background.  




(1916)#^ - View of the road to Topanga Canyon as seen from the Santa Monica Bath House. The Long Wharf can be seen in the distance. The beach is full of people between the bath house and the pier. The right side of the sign in the foreground reads: "Where Ocean and Mountains Meet"  





(1916)#**- View of streetcar 149 leaving Santa Monica en route to the Long Wharf.  


Historical Notes

The above streetcar was built by American Car Co. in 1902 for the San Bernardino Valley Traction Co. and later purchased by the Pacific Electric Railway Company. The car was eventually scrapped in 1926. #**

The last ships arrived at the Long Wharf in 1908, however, the wharf lived on as a tourist destination, accessed by a trolley from Santa Monica.  The wharf was demolished in stages, and disappeared entirely by 1920.#^^^




(ca. 1920)#^# - Relief map of territory served by lines of the Pacific Electric Railway in Southern California. At the time of the photo it was the largest electric railway system in the world. Note the line heading to the Port of Los Angeles (The Long Wharf).  





(1926)#^^ - A panorama view of the California coastline at the Castellammare development area in Pacific Palisades in Los Angeles. The land is still undeveloped, with only a sign spelling out the development name perched on a hill. The land was under development by Frank Meline.  


Historical Notes

Castellammare (Castle by the sea) is located along the Pacific Coast Highway on small bluffs much closer to sea-level, just north of where Sunset Boulevard meets the PCH. This is the home of the Getty Villa and the narrow, winding streets in this neighborhood have Italian names and ocean breezes.*^




(ca. 1927)* - The Bel-Air Bay Club in Pacific Palisades, although “Santa Monica” is present on the print.  To the right can be seen a portion of the Roosevelt Highway (Pacific Coast Highway).  


Historical Notes

In 1927, Alphonzo Bell built the Spanish Colonial Revival style Bel Air Bay Club located at 16801 Pacific Coast Highway, Pacific Palisades. The club is still standing today, although modified.*

Alphonzo Bell was an American oil multi-millionaire, real estate developer, philanthropist, and champion tennis player. The westside Los Angeles residential community of Bel Air is named after him.

Bell was a native and lifelong resident of Los Angeles whose family had deep financial and historical ties to the area, and played a key role in the history and development of Southern California. He was the son of James George Bell, who established Bell Station Ranch (now the site of the City of Bell), in the Santa Fe Springs area in 1875, and of Susan Albiah Hollenbeck. His uncle, Ed Hollenbeck, who arrived in California in the 1850s, founded the First National Bank, created Los Angeles's public transportation trolley system, and developed eastern portions of Los Angeles County.*^




(1931)#*#* – View showing beach volleyball in front of the Bel-Air Bay Club.  


Historical Notes

Bel-Air Bay Club consists of two facilities separated by Pacific Coast Highway. The grounds are located on one-quarter mile of beachfront, with a total of 14 acres including picturesque bluffs overlooking the sea.

The Club was such a center of social activity during the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s that many celebrities frequented Club functions. #++



(1920s)##*^ – View looking south on Roosevelt Highway (later PCH) showing a busy day at the beach with parking spaces hard to come by.  




(1920)* - The Toed Inn, was a stand in the shape of a toad, located on Channel Road in Santa Monica. Behind can be seen the Seaside Service Station. The Toed Inn was damaged in the great floods of 1938.   


Historical Notes

In the 1920s, as the automobile was becoming the default way to get around the Southland, buildings and structures in the area became more unique, often resembling the merchandise or services they hawked.  These “hey-you-can’t miss-me!” buildings (referred to as Novelty or Programmatic Architecture) were made to pull automobile drivers right off the road.




(1938)^^^^ - View of the Santa Monica Canyon flood of 1938. The sign on top of the hill reads: HUNTINGTON PALISADES.  


Historical Notes

In 1938, the Toed Inn structure was damaged by a flood caused by one of wettest seasons ever to hit Southern California.



(1938)* - Photo shows the cleanup of Channel Road in Santa Monica Canyon. Tons of mud and silt were deposited from the flood waters which raced down the canyon. The Toed Inn is on the right.  


Historical Notes

After the 1938 Santa Monica Canyon flood, the Toed Inn was relocated to Westwood, at 12008 Wilshire Boulevard.*



(ca. 1938) - The Toad Inn at it's new location at 12008 Wilshire Boulevard. The building's Programmatic-style design most definetely caught the attention of motorists as they drove by.  


Historical Notes

Click HERE to see more examples of Programmatic Architecture.



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(1922)* - Aerial view of the Palisades and various residential homes in Santa Monica. Wilshire Boulevard and Palisades Park runs parallel to the cliffs. Roosevelt Highway and Santa Monica beach can be seen below the cliffs.  


Historical Notes

The nationwide prosperity of the 1920s was felt in Santa Monica. The population increased from 15,000 to 32,000 at the end of the decade. Downtown saw a construction boom with many important buildings going up such as Henshey's Department Store (destroyed) and the Criterion Theater. Elegant resorts were opened, including the 1925 Miramar Hotel and the 1926 Club Casa del Mar. The Los Angeles firm of Walker & Eisen designed the art deco Bay City Building, a 13-story skyscraper topped with a huge four-faced clock that was finished in 1930.*^



(1922)* - The Palisades in Santa Monica. Wilshire Boulevard runs parallel to Palisades Park (right). Palm trees can be seen in the lower part of the park and throughout the city.  





(ca. 1920)** - View of Ocean Park Beach in Santa Monica crowded with bathers.  The beach and most of the people sitting on it have umbrellas, creating a sea of various patterns and colors. The ocean at right is also full of people wading in the waves. The pier is visible in the background at center. There are several rides visible on the pier, including a Ferris Wheel and a roller coaster.  





(1918)*#^# - Walking over Santa Monica. Aerial view looking south showing a bi-plane flying over Santa Monica. A woman is standing on the wing looking down. Ocean Park Pier with its amusement park appears just below the plane and Venice Pier is seen in the distance.  




(1920)*##* - Aerial view of Ocean Park Pier showing it's large roller coster. The long pier to the north (top of photo) is the Santa Monica Pier. It too had its own amusement park starting in 1916.  


Historical Notes

Pleasure piers were a big draw for Santa Monica in the 1920s. They featured carnival-like games and roller coasters. The Santa Monica Pier opened on September 9, 1909, however, it didn't officially become an amusement park until 1916.*^*^



(ca. 1920)** - View of Santa Monica beach looking south toward the pier. The beach is crowded with people resting under umbrellas or playing in the waves. There is a wide sidewalk bordering the beach at left. The left side of the walkway is lined with empty lots in the foreground and buildings in the distance. The pier is in the background at right center and several structures are built on it, including a billiards and bowling hall and a large wooden rollercoaster. Another pier is visible further down the beach at center.  





(1922)#^# – Postcard view showing the Santa Monica Pleasure Pier from Palisades Park.  Part of Ocean Park Pier can also be seen in the background.  





(ca. 1922)** - View of Ocean Park beach and the Santa Monica Pier looking south from Palisades Park. The Pacific Coast Highway runs from the foreground at right into the distance at left and is lined with early-model automobiles. The right side of the road also has several beach houses and a large, two-story bath house. The beach is visible beyond the buildings at right and is full of bathers and other beach-goers. The pier is in the background and stretches across the entire image. At left are several amusement park structures, including a roller coaster and a bowling and billiards hall.  




Santa Monica Pier

(ca. 1922)*^*^* - View showing the Santa Monica Pier with parking lot in the foreground. The largest two structures are the wooden roller coaster and the Looff Hippodrome.  


Historical Notes

From the time the Municipal Pier was conceived, the community wished to add an amusement park to compete with the neighboring Ocean Park and Venice Piers.  In 1916 Charles Looff, a famous carousel carver turned amusement entrepreneur, answered that wish by building a new, wider pier with an amusement park along the south side of Municipal Pier.

Looff's opening day, July 4, 1917, drew over 100,000 people; the biggest crowd in the city's history.**^*^*




(ca. 1922)^*## - View showing a man crossing the street heading toward Santa Monica Pier. Sign on right reads: CASINO CAFE - AUTO PARK - BOWLING AND BILLIARDS.  





(ca. 1924)* - Closer view of the Santa Monica Pier with the impressive Looff Hippodrome at center.  


Historical Notes

In 1916, Charles I.D. Looff constructed a Moorish-Byzantine hippodrome on the Santa Monica Pier. It housed a merry-go-round with 44 hand-crafted horses.*

In ancient Greece, the hippodrome was is an open-air stadium with an oval course for horse and chariot races or an arena for equestrian shows.





(ca. 1920s)** - View of the Santa Monica Pier Merry-go-round. The ride is housed within a large building that resembles a castle with round turrets on the corners and domes along the tops of the walls. Arched windows run along the perimeter on both the first and second stories. A large tower that looks like the top of a circus tent rises from the middle of the building.  A sign on one of the castle turrets reads "Auto Park".  


Historical Notes

Charles Looff is renowned for innovating a noteworthy style of carousel horse. The moving horses were slender and graceful and inferred motion. The manes featured "cut through" openings, which looked dramatic, but where very time consuming to carve. Around 1905, Looff designed a saddle that resembled a scoop, a design that is still found on carousel horses today. +^




(1966)* - Merry-Go-Round (Looff Hippodrome) on the Santa Monica Pier.  Photo by William Reagh  


Historical Notes

In 1987, the Santa Monica Looff Hippodrome was added to the National Registry of Historic Places.

Today, the Looff Carousel is the only original structure remaining on the Santa Monica Pier. Records do not indicate what happened to Looff's merry-go-round which was installed in the hippodrome. We do know that it was replaced by one from the old Ocean Park Pier in 1939. The current merry-go-round was built by the Philadelphia Toboggan Company in 1922; its original home was Nashville, Tennessee. The carousel arrived on the West Coast before World War II and in 1947 it was moved from Venice pier to the Santa Monica pier. It has been owned since 1977 by the City of Santa Monica. The 44 original hand-carved and painted wooden horses were restored in 1981-1984. +^



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(1922)#^# – Postcard view showing Pleasure Pier in Santa Monica. Various rides can be seen on the pier including a large roller coaster. The building with the large circus-like tent on top houses the Merry-go-round.  




(ca. 1924)* - View shows the amusement park, complete with wooden roller coaster, on the Santa Monica pier.  


Historical Notes

In additon to the hippodrome, the pier included a billiards and bowling hall, a two-track Blue Streak Racer wooden roller coaster along with The Whip and the Aeroscope thrill rides, a "What Is It?" maze, and several smaller rides.*




(1924)* - Aerial view of the Santa Monica pier located on the beach in Santa Monica. An amusement park with several amusement rides is located on the pier, including a large roller coaster. Several hotels can be seen on the oceanfront of Santa Monica beach.  




(1924)* - Aerial view of the Santa Monica pier. Beach and buildings can be seen on the north side of the pier.  


Historical Notes

Looff called this the perfect location for an amusement park, since the area was easy to access via the popular Pacific Electric Air Line as well as an electric trolley that ran from Santa Monica to Venice.*^*^*



(1920s)**#* - In the 1920s the Santa Monica line — then called the Venice via Sawtelle line — stopped at this station in Ocean Park, at Pier St.    




(ca. 1922)** - Exterior view of the Pacific Electric Station in Santa Monica. The small station is at center and is a single-story Spanish-style building. Several large archways provide access to a small porch in front of the building, and tall stucco walls project out of the roof. A streetcar is visible on the tracks in front of the station. A metal fence encloses a small yard at left, and several palm trees are visible in the distance at right. A massive American flag is hanging from a pole near the train station.  




(ca. 1930s)#^^– View showing Pacific Electric streetcar no. 983 at the Ocean Avenue depot in Santa Monica. Signs on the front of the streetcar read "Los Angeles vis Beverly Hills" and "West Los Angeles Westwood Beverly Hills Carthay Center."  


Historical Notes

In the 1930s the Santa Monica via Beverly Hills line had the highest patronage of any inter-city or suburban line of the Pacific Electric Railway. Yet it was converted to bus operation in 1940, unlike the various PE suburban lines that survived World War II.**#*


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(ca. 1925)** - View of the Santa Monica Pier looking south from the Palisades Park cliff path. The pier is in the distance at center and stretches out into the ocean at right. There are several large buildings and a roller coaster on the long wooden walkway. There are several early-model automobiles making their ways up and down the incline.    



La Monica Ballroom

(1924)#^^ - Detailed aerial view looking east showing the Municipal Pier and the Santa Monica Amusement Pier, including the Whirlwind Dipper roller coaster, Looff Hippodrome, and the not-yet-open La Monica Ballroom.  


Historical Notes

The Spanish and French Renaissance style La Monica Ballroom was designed by T.H. Eslick; it opened in 1924 and would become a popular Santa Monica venue for over 39 years.



(1924)* - The Santa Monica Pier, with the La Monica Ballroom, captured from above.  


Historical Notes

The La Monica Ballroom was located at the end of the 1,600-foot long Santa Monica Pier. It was especially popular during the Big Band Era of the 1920s & 30s, up to 2,500 couples could kick up their heels in this grand ballroom located at the end of the Pier.*^*^



(1924)^*^* - View looking northwest toward the Santa Monica Pier. In the foreground is the "Municipal Community Service Playground No. 2. Beyond that, crowds of people are seen looking out toward the surf. In the background stands the pier with its roller coaster and the newly constructed La Monica Ballroom.  




(1924)* - Cars are parked outside the La Monica Ballroom on the Santa Monica Pier.  


Historical Notes

More than 50,000 people attended the July 23, 1924 grand opening of the La Monica Ballroom, enough to cause the first traffic jam recorded in Santa Monica history. Its 15,000 square-foot hard maple floor and exquisite “submarine garden” interior made the La Monica the hottest ticket in town.*^*^*



(1924)* - Exterior view of the La Monica Ballroom on the pier in Santa Monica.  





(ca. 1920s)** - View of Santa Monica from the end of the pier showing the La Monica Ballroom. Three small boats are in the water at center. In the distance, the Santa Monica beach is visible, including three large beachfront hotels. The hotels are all at least five stories high and are decorated with archways and countless windows.  





(ca. 1926)** - View looking northwest from the shore toward the Santa Monica Pier. At the end of the pier stands the beautiful arabesque La Monica Ballroom. Minarets top each of the towers visible positioned at the corners of the building, while the tops of the exterior walls are molded into decorative curves.  Heavy surf is visible in the foreground crashing against the shore and the pilings of the pier in the distance.  





(ca. 1937)* - Looking out from Palisades Park towards the La Monica Ballroom on the Santa Monica Pier. Beachgoers cover the beach and many boats are docked in the bay.  





(1936)#^# – Postcard view of Santa Monica Beach showing the La Monica Ballroom on the pier.  A portion of the Deauville Club can be seen in lower right (opened in 1927).  


Historical Notes

The La Monica Ballroom's success was short-lived as the Great Depression effectively ended the dance hall days. By the mid-1930’s it became a convention center, lifeguard headquarters and, for a short interim period, the City Jail. The building stood until 1963 when it was demolished.*^*^*


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(1920s)* - Exterior view of the Vista Tea Room in Santa Monica. On the left is a small building called Over the Waves Lunch, and the Seaside Novelty can be seen in the background. An electric tram moves people along the walkway.  





(ca. 1920s)* - Sitting on the Venice sidewalk/street is an open sided electric tram with an awning above and room for seating on all sides.  


Historical Notes

The Venice trams were operated by a uniformed motorman along a north and south route on the concrete boardwalk between Santa Monica and Venice. These trackless electric trams amounted to battery powered upholstered wicker benches with lever type hand controller and mechanical brake at one end. These trams operated between 1910-1929. #*^




(1920s)* - Crowds of people and a street car are seen in the fun section of the pier. A large sign hangs at far end of the street announcing Ed Fitzpatrick and his Dancing Rhythms. Also seen are signs for Feisher's Cafe (left) and the Dome Theatre (far back on the right). An electric tram can be seen transporting a full load of passengers down the walkway.  




(1924)* - This is the first Dome Theatre in Ocean Park, part of Santa Monica. This theater burned down in 1924, but was rebuilt a year later.  




(1925)* - The 2nd Dome Theater at Ocean Park Pier. The first dome Theatre burned in 1924 and was rebuilt in 1925.




  (1920s)* -Aerial view looking north all along the coast of Venice and the whole Santa Monica Bay area. At least 6 or 7 piers can be seen extending out into the ocean. Venice Pier and amusement park can be seen in the foreground. Ocean Park Pier, with its own amusement park, is the next pier over. Beyond that, the long pier at the top of the photo, is the Santa Monica Pier. It also had an amusement park.  


Historical Notes

The Venice, Ocean Park and Santa Monica amusement piers were within a mile and one half of each other and they competed directly with each other for the tourist's entertainment dollars. Fourteen coasters were built there from 1904 to 1925.^#*#



(ca. 1925)* - Two airplanes rotating around the center tower on the Venice amusement park ride are visible. This ride, called the Flying Circus has 6 to 8 passenger cars circling the main tower 65 feet above the peer. Seen here from the sandy beach in the foreground.  




(ca. 1920)* - Crowds enjoying a sunny day at the beach alongside Ocean Park Pier. The amusement park can be seen on the pier.  




(1929)#^^ – View showing the Lighthouse Slide, High Boy roller coaster and Chute the chutes ride on the Ocean Park Pier at Ocean Park in Santa Monica.  



Click HERE to see more in Early Southern California Amusement Parks.




  (ca. 1920s)^*^* - Woman with spy glass looking out toward the ocean. The beach is full of sunbathers with the Santa Monica Pier and Amusement Park in the distance. Pacific Bat House an be seen at upper right.  




(ca. 1920)** - View of the beach in Santa Monica, south of the pier.  A large grassy park is in the foreground at right. Many people are seated beneath umbrellas or on blankets on the grass. A covered walkway runs through the middle of the park at right. The beach is in the background at center and is also crowded with umbrellas and people. There is a rocky outcropping in the foreground at left. In the background at right are several large buildings and a parking lot full of early-model automobiles. Part of a pier is jutting out into the water in the distance at center, and there appears to be a roller coaster in the far distance. Legible signs include, from left to right: "Ball Room", "The Rendezvous", "Ice Cream", "Tom's", and "Pacific Bath House".  




(ca. 1920s)* - View looking north of a very crowded shoreline at Ocean Park Beach in Santa Monica.  





(1925)* - WOW! - High density real estate. The view is looking north towards Ocean Park where some buildings and part of Lick Pier are visible.  





(ca. 1920s)* - Crowded shoreline at Ocean Park Beach in Santa Monica.  




(ca. 1920s)* - A group at the sign that reads "Prohibited," at the boundary between Ink Well Beach and the whites-only section of beach in Santa Monica.  


Historical Notes

Through the 1920s, many public beaches were open to whites only. For the African American community, there was a 200-sq ft. area of beach at the foot of Pico Blvd that was marked with a sign that said “Negroes Only.” This stretch of beach became known as the Ink Well. African Americans continued to congregate at the Ink Well long after racial restrictions on beach access were lifted in 1927. It continued to be a popular African American gathering spot into the 1960s.*^*^



(1920)** - View of the beach south of Casa Del Mar Beach Club in Santa Monica, looking north to the pier. There is a grassy park at right, and the right side of the park is bordered by a covered walkway. A broad sidewalk divides the park from the sandy beach at left, and a small sidewalk electric tram is transporting passengers along the walkway. The beach is occupied by many people, several of whom are resting beneath umbrellas. The large Casa Del Mar Beach Club is at right. It is a massive rectangular building with at least five stories and a terra cotta tile roof. The pier is in the background at left.  




(1920)** - View of the Edgewater, Breakers, and Casa Del Mar Beach Clubs in Santa Monica, looking south from the water. The three massive beach clubs are seen on the shore in the middle distance. All three buildings have at least six or seven stories and two distinct wings. A tall tower emerges from the flat roof of the club at left. Several smaller buildings can be seen between and in front of the beach clubs. The beach in front of the clubs is sparsely populated with beachgoers. The ocean in the foreground is calm.  




(ca. 1920s)** - View of the Santa Monica beach and the Pacific Bath House south of Casa Del Mar Beach Club.  The sandy beach stretches across the middle of the image and is crowded with hundreds of people. The Pacific Bath house is at center. It is a light-colored, two-story building with rows of rectangular windows around its perimeter. Several large beach clubs are in the distance at left, and two small eateries are at right. There is a crowded parking lot full of early-model automobiles behind the bath house. Legible signs include, from left to right, "Pacific Bath House", "Fish Dinners", "Coca Cola Sold Here", "Frost", "Christopher's Ice Cream", "Sea Food", "Creates Golden Tan", and "Prevent".  





(1926)* - Sunbathers and umbrellas are on the sand in front of the Club Casa del Mar beach club in Santa Monica. The building displayed is the Edgewater Beach Club, 1855 Promenade. Both clubs were private. In the background is the Santa Monica Pier with its roller coaster ride.  





(1926)* - Several people are seen relaxing at the Edgewater Beach Club, 1855 Promenade, in a covered pavilion on the beach.  




(1927)* - Exterior view of the Edgewater Beach Club, left, at 1855 Promenade in Santa Monica. Groups of people with umbrellas are seen in front of the private beach clubs sitting on the sand and enjoying their day at the beach. The building partially visible to the right is the Club Casa del Mar.  





(ca. 1927)** - View of the beach in Santa Monica looking north from a a full parking lot.  Beyond the parking lot is a large grassy area with a covered walkway running down the middle. The Club Casa del Mar stands in the upper right. The pier in the distance is barely visible through a light fog.  An electric vehicle (left-center) is seen transporting passengers along the walkway that parallels the beach.  





(ca. 1926)* - Life boat drill with male and female lifeguards outside the new Club Casa del Mar, a private beach club at 1901 Promenade, Santa Monica.  


Historical Notes

Club Casa del Mar opened in 1926 at the foot of Pico Blvd. During WWII, the US Navy used the building as a hotel for enlisted men. Following the war, it served a variety of purposes, including Synanon Rehab Center and the Pritikin Longevity Center. Today the meticulously refurbished building serves as one of Santa Monica's most luxurious hotels.*^*^

Lifeguard services were initially developed during the early 1900s in response to the rise in popularity of the beach. Several municipalities had their own service before combining forces with Los Angeles County in the 1970s, creating the world's largest professional lifeguard service.*^*^



(1953)^*^*^ - View of the beach in front of the Club Casa del Mar. A variety of designs are on display as umbrellas cover the beach.  


Historical Notes

In 1998, The Edward Thomas Hospitality Corporation acquired the building and converted it into a luxury hotel called the Casa del Mar Hotel.*^

The Casa del Mar Hotel is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.



(1924)#*#* – A woman stands at the edge of the Pacific Palisades looking down at a crowded Santa Monica Beach and Roosevelt Highway.  




(1927)* - Photo shows people on the top of the Palisades (left), which overlooks Santa Monica beach. The buildings, cars parked along the highway, and the crowds on the beach can be seen. The pier and amusement park is in the background.  


Historical Notes

The steps and bridge seen in the above photo are at the same location as the original '99 Steps" built in 1875. When the Pacific Coast Highway was built in 1927, new concrete steps and a bridge over the highway were built to allow for continued beach access.*^*^



(1927)* - View of Ocean Avenue shows many cars parked on one side of the road. A trolley can be seen in the distance.  




(1928)^*^* - Bird's-eye view of Main Street and surroundings, looking west-northwest toward Ashland Avenue, showing businesses, cars, pedestrians, and houses, with Santa Monica Pier in background.  




(1929)* - An exterior corner view of the Parkhurst Building which here housed the Van De Kamp's Bakery on the bottom floor. Located at 185 Pier Ave. in Ocean Park.  


Historical Notes

Built in 1927, the Spanish Colonial Revival style building was designed by architects Marsh, Smith & Powell.  Norman F. Marsh also planned the arcaded streets and canals of Venice.#^



(2008)*^ - View of the Parkhurst Building as it appeared in 2008. The sign on the front door reads: "Planet Blue".  


Historical Notes

The Parkhurst Building was included in the National Register of Historic Places, California Register of Historic Places and designated as a Santa Monica landmark.#^



(1929)* - Crowds gathered on the sides of Clover Field (Santa Monica Airport) to watch the air show. Several planes are parked on the field, waiting their turns to takeoff.  


Historical Notes

In 1923, the Army Air Corps dedicated Clover Field, named after World War I pilot Lt. Greayer “Grubby” Clover, who grew up nearby and was killed in action.*^*#



(1929)^^^^ - View of Clover Field 1929. The Douglas Aircraft plant can be seen on the right.  


Historical Notes

Donald Wills Douglas, Sr. founded the Douglas Aircraft Company in 1921 with his first plant on Wilshire Boulevard. He built a plant in 1922 at Clover Field (Santa Monica Airport), which was in use for 46 years. In 1924, four Douglas-built planes took off from Clover Field to attempt the first aerial circumnavigation of the world. Two planes made it back, after having covered 27,553 miles in 175 days, and were greeted on their return September 23, 1924 by a crowd of 200,000 (generously estimated).*^



(1940s)^^^^ - View of Douglas Aircraft with numerous planes positioned all around its plant. The surrounding neighborhood has been built up when compared to previous photo.  


Historical Notes

Douglas Aircraft Co. was a major player in the aircraft industry during World War II. Local historians note that World War II affected Santa Monica more than most places, as the Federal Government (for national security reasons) leased the Airport from the City to provide protection for Douglas Aircraft – then a major defense contractor located in Sunset Park. The government also participated in the expansion of the facility to accommodate the ever-growing production of military aircraft by Douglas Aircraft.^*^#



(1940s)##+ – View showing night production of fighters at Douglas Aircraft Company's assembly plant in Santa Monica.  


Historical Notes

Santa Monica CA- Along brilliantly lit assembly lines of Douglas Aircraft Company’s plant here, night crews are rushing production of DB-7B attackers bombers, recently acclaimed as night fighters in the defense of blacked out Britain. Equipped with heavy armament self-sealing fuel tanks and armor plating, these ships are proving swift and deadly in interception and downing Nazi raiders. R.A.F. early designated the DB-7 type the Boston and more recent the Havoc. Under a backlog in excess of $400,000,000 nearly 28,000 Douglas employees are working around the clock on attack ships, dive bombers and military transports for Americans and Britain. ##+



(ca. 1940)* - An impatient car starts across the crosswalk while men and women are still crossing towards the Douglas Aircraft Company factory, located at 2700 Ocean Park Boulevard, Santa Monica. An ice cream truck is parked and the attendant is ready to catch workers as they return to work.  


Historical Notes

At its peak, Douglas Aircraft, and Santa Monica Airport grew in size to its present 227 acres, employing 40,000 individuals.^*^#



(ca. 1945)*#*# - Playing such a vital role in military aircraft production during World War II, camouflage was used to make the plant and airstrip disappear - at least from the air.  


Historical Notes

During the war the airport area was cleverly disguised from the air with the construction of a false "town" (built with the help of Hollywood craftsman) suspended atop it.



(1967)#* – Aerial view looking west toward the Pacific Ocean showing Santa Monica Airport.  The Douglas Aircraft plant is on the right.  


Historical Notes

In later years, Douglas Aircraft merged with a rival to become McDonnell-Douglas Corporation (1967) and moved to Long Beach (1976).  The 5,000-foot runway at what was by then known as Santa Monica Airport was too short for the firm's growing jet production.  Two decades later, McDonnell-Douglas would be absorbed by yet another rival, Boeing Company.  When the corporation left town, Douglas' son, Donald Wills Douglas Jr, set up the Donald Douglas Museum and Library to commemorate his father's legacy.  Douglas Sr. died in 1981.  Nine years later, the nonprofit Museum of Flying, founded by golf course and real estate developer David Price, superseded the old museum as part of a $20-million airport overhaul.  Exhibits included vintage planes and an immense photo of when the airport and plant operated under cover of camouflage.*#*#


Click HERE to see more in Aviation in Early L.A.


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(1930)* - A view down the street showing the parade marchers, floats and spectators of the Baby Parade of 1930 as they march past the Ocean Park Plunge near the beachfront.  




(1929)* - Photo shows "two views of the picturesque Santa Monica-Oxnard link of the Coast highway opening today, winding about the hills along the sunset shore." Photograph dated: June 29, 1929.  


Historical Notes

The section of Highway 1 from Santa Monica to Oxnard, via Malibu, went out to contract in 1925 as "Coast Boulevard" but was designated "Theodore Roosevelt Highway" when it was dedicated in 1929. The Highway 1 designation was first designated in 1939. Various portions of State Highway 1 have been posted and referred to by various names and numbers over the years. State construction of what became Highway 1 started after the state's third highway bond issue passed before 1910.*^




(ca. 1930)* - View of the coastline along Pacific Coast Highway looking north to Santa Monica, Pacific Palisades and Malibu.  


Historical Notes

This is a photograph of a Chris Siemer painting created for a display by the L.A. Chamber of Commerce.



(ca. 1930)* - Panoramic view showing the Roosevelt Highway running along the coastline of Santa Monica beach. The landmark lighthouse and bathouse at the location of the original Long Wharf can be seen in the distance.  




(1931)** – Winter view of the Pacific Palisades along the Roosevelt Highway, looking north from the Santa Monica Palisades, showing the landmark lighthouse and bathouse. Photo date: February 26, 1931.  




(1930s)* - View shows Roosevelt Highway (now PCH) running parallel to the Santa Monica beach at the intersection with Chautauqua Boulevard . Cars parked along the sides of the highway and crowds on the beach can be seen. A bath house sign, several restaurants and a couple of gas stations are on the left side. The Santa Monica pier can be seen in the distance.




(1930s)** – Close-up view of the intersection of Chautauqua Boulevard and Pacific Coast Highway in Santa Monica. The highway extends into the distance at right while Chautauqua runs from left to right. There are several buildings visible on the sides of Chautauqua, and many early-model automobiles are parked along the side of the road. A man is standing in the foreground at left, holding a basket, and several other pedestrians are visible in the distance at right. A hill covered with large houses can be seen in the distance at left. Legible signs include, from left to right: "Ship Ahoy Cafe Unique Excellent Food Luncheon 50 65 Dinner 65 85 $1.00", "Ballanlymes Sandwiches", "Lee Rose Casino Lunch Barbequed Mets Hamburger Hot Dogs", "Sam's Rite Spot", "Clam Chowder", and "ABC".  




(ca. 1930)** - View of Santa Monica homes along Pacific Coast Highway, looking south. The highway is in the foreground at center and follows the contours of the coast as it disappears into the distance at center. The right side of the road is lined with an assortment of large beach houses including Marion Davies' mansion (center-right) which is still under construction. On the left side of the highway, a railroad runs parallel to the road and the steep cliffs of Palisades Park rise above the tracks. There are trees along the top and bottom of the cliffs, but the faces are bare rock. There is a small wharf at center that sticks out above the low tide, and a long pier is visible in the background at right.  


Historical Notes

William Randolph Hearst might have been the first media mogul of the 20th Century. In his day, Hearst owned 28 major newspapers and 18 magazines, as well as radio stations and movie companies. Santa Monica’s Gold Coast was so desirable that in the 1920s, Hearst, one of the richest and most powerful men in America, bought 4.91 acres of beachfront property so that he could build a mansion for his mistress, actress Marion Davies. #^*^



(ca. 1932)* - View of Marion Davies’ 110-room mansion on Santa Monica beach designed by architect Julia Morgan and built circa 1926. The guest house closest to the camera still exists. Roosevelt Highway would be widened in 1934.  


Historical Notes

William Randolph Hearst commissioned William Edward Flannery to construct a grand beach house for his longtime companion, actress Marion Davies. In 1926, architect Julia Morgan (the architect of Hearst Castle) was hired to complete the design and oversee construction of the estate, which featured an ornate swimming pool, several houses, gardens and an opulent 110-room mansion. The beach house served as Davies’ primary residence from 1929 to 1942.*^*^



(1934)**^ – Postcard view showing the “Beach Homes of the Motion Picture Stars” with Marion Davies’ house at lower right.   


Historical Notes

Photo was taken shorty after railroad tracks were removed and Roosevelt Highway widened (1934).



(n.d.)#^^* - Closer view of Marion Davies' beach house (mansion) on the Pacific Coast Highway, Santa Monica  


Historical Notes

Julia Morgan created a three-story, 34-bedroom Georgian mansion on the Pacific Coast Highway in Santa Monica. Called "Ocean House" or "The Beach House," it was the grandest property in the neighborhood. Rumor has it the cost was $7 million dollars. #^*^



(ca. 1930s)#*** - Aerial view showing the 4.91-acre Marion Davies estate in Santa Monica, designed by Julia Morgan. The building on the left is the guest house.  


Historical Notes

Marion Davies was born Marion Douras in Brooklyn, New York on January 3rd, 1897. She always wanted to be a star. When she met William Randolph Hearst, she had already made a name for herself on the Broadway stage. Rumor has it she wrote her first film, "Runaway Romany," directed by her brother-in-law, George Lederer. 1918’s "Cecilia of the Pink Roses" was her first film backed by Hearst. Then her marketing campaign began.

Over the next ten years, Davies filmed an average of almost three films a year. She was a tireless worker, always trying to live up to the relentless promotional campaigns launched by Hearst.

In the early twenties, she and Hearst relocated their movie company, Cosmopolitan Productions, to California to join forces with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studios. Once the Beach House was finished, Marion evolved into Hollywood's premiere hostess. Her parties attracted the day’s biggest stars, international dignitaries and business titans. Those who knew Davies say she never took herself seriously and was beloved by all who knew her for her gracious spirit and charitable tendencies. #^*^




(n.d.)#*^* - Postcard view from the beach, showing the Marion Davies mansion. The Santa Monica bluffs are seen in the background. The mansion's guest house, on the left, still exists today.  


Historical Notes

The three-story, 118-room, 34-bedroom, 55-bath Georgian mansion had 37 fireplaces, Tiffany chandeliers, a ballroom, a dining room from a Venetian palazzo, and a room that was coated in gold leaf. It was accompanied by three guesthouses, two swimming pools, tennis courts and dog kennels and was called “Ocean House." #***




(ca. 1930s)#*** - View showing guests enjoying a day by the pool at Marion Davies' mansion in Santa Monica.  


Historical Notes

In 1947, Davies sold the estate and it was converted into the Oceanhouse Hotel and Sand & Sea Beach Club. The main mansion was demolished in 1956, and the property was sold to the State of California in 1959. The Sand & Sea Club remained popular with regulars all the way through until the 1990s.*^*^

In 2005, the Annenberg Foundation, at the recommendation of Wallis Annenberg, made a generous financial commitment to preserve the site for public use. The Annenberg Community Beach House at Santa Monica State Beach opened to the public on April 25, 2009, representing a unique partnership between the Annenberg Foundation, California State Parks and the City of Santa Monica. The total construction costs were roughly $30 million.*^



(2012)#*** - View of the restored Marion Davies Mansion pool, now part of the Annenberg Community Beach House.  


Historical Notes

The mansion's original pool was restored by the Annenberg Foundation and opened to the public on a fee for entry basis in 2009. The pool is trimmed in tile and has a marble deck. The mansion's original guest house also still exists and is used for events. New facilities include a pool house with changing areas and a second floor view deck, a new event house, a splash pad, gardens, beach volleyball/tennis courts, a children's play area, public restrooms, beach rentals, and a cafe.*^



(1920s)**^ – Postcard view showing the beach home of Jesse Lasky (one of the founders of Paramount Pictures), located at 609 Ocean Front Walk across from the Sorrento/Gables.  


Historical Notes

Filled with antiques and guests, the Lasky home became a magnet for stars, performers, and executives. From hosting lavish open air extravaganzas to spontaneous get-togethers, the beach house was where Hollywood culture maven Bess Lasky held court.**^



(1928)^*^* – View showing the Jesse L. Lasky residence, with Spanish tile roof, large balcony, enclosed and open patios, umbrellas, and playground equipment, with beach and wall in foreground and cliffs in background.  


Historical Notes

"'Our Santa Monica beach house, 609 Ocean Front, was a two-story hacienda surrounding a garden with a fountain. It originally had twelve guest suites...[which] my father enlarged..still further. We became a kind of hotel for the famous...I can remember no time when we were not inundated with house guests.” – Jesse L. Lasky, Jr.

In 1930, Lasky traded Paramount shares and the beach house to Harry Warner for $250K.**^



(ca. 1930)* - Roosevelt Highway, later renamed the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH), as seen from Palisades Park in Santa Monica. The highway runs parallel with the many beach clubs, restaurants, and residences on the coast. In the distance are Pacific Palisades, where the landmark Lighthouse bathhouse is located, and the Santa Monica Mountains.  


Historical Notes

The Hollywood set and the uber-rich were drawn to Santa Monica’s beach in the 1920s & 30s. The opulent residences they constructed north of the Pier and fabulous parties they threw earned this stretch of sand the nickname of “Gold Coast”.

Many other Hollywood stars, producers and movie studio moguls also built homes on Santa Monica's beach in the 1920s.  Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford were among the first to make the move.*^*^



(1931)* - Looking down upon the Roosevelt Highway (later Pacific Coast Highway) and crowds at the beach from the cliffs in Pacific Palisades.  




(1934)* - Caption reads: A new link in the Roosevelt highway and an improved coastal boulevard which replaces the old narrow road along the beach at the foot of the Santa Monica Palisades, will be formally opened and dedicated on Monday afternoon. Governor F. F. Merriam and state, county and municipal officials will join in ceremonies which will climax months of work. Photo shows the highway link, which has been widened to 80 feet and extends nearly one mile. Arrow shows where boulevard rises to connect with Wilshire Boulevard on Ocean Avenue.  




(1936)** - View showing a car travelling south on Roosevelt Highway (later PCH) in Santa Monica with the Sorrento Beach Club (previously the Gables Hotel) on the left and the California Incline in the distance.  


Historical Notes

In the 1920s, “Promoters decided to create a fantastic club (Gables Beach Club) and hotel complex on the cliffs at the foot of Montana Avenue...Designed to emulate the grandest castle-like structures of Europe.....would be twenty-one stories high and would include the first new bridge to span the beach road." - (from the book) Santa Monica Beach by Ernest Marquez

Originally designed to be 21 storys tall, only three stories were completed (1928) when the Great Depression hit. The smaller building would be used as a garage for Gables Beach Club across the street until a fire partially destroyed the club (1930). Within two years the club was rebuilt and reopened as the Sorrento Beach Club and the 3-story building continued to be used as a parking garage until 1962.

Today, part of the foundation is still visible and is being used as a retaining wall.



(ca. 1930)* - View of Santa Monica looking south. On left is the Pacific Palisades Park which overlooks bathing houses, buildings and beach below. The California Incline runs diagonally from lower-right to top-center. In the far background is the Santa Monica pier.    


Historical Notes

Originally constructed in 1896 as a walkway known as Sunset Trail, the current California Incline was built in 1930 and is 1,400 feet in length. It was and still is a vital street in Santa Monica, linking the PCH with Ocean Avenue, and California Avenue, bisecting Palisades Park. It begins at an intersection with Ocean Avenue and California Avenue, at the top of the palisades, extending to the PCH at the base of the bluffs.*^



(1930s)* - Five women are seen sitting and standing on a open bed truck on top of the California Incline. A sign at the front of the truck reads, "Lifeguard." The woman standing holds her left hand out, as if she's welcoming you to the beach, which can be seen in the background.  




(ca. 1938)** – View showing a man looking down toward the Santa Monica coastline from the top of the California Incline. Photo by Dick Whittington  





(1936)#** – Ceremonies marking the opening of a 400-foot tunnel beneath Colorado and Ocean Avenues in Santa Monica on February 1, 1936. The tunnel (later renamed McClure Tunnel) joins the Roosevelt Highway (later, Pacific Coast Highway) to Lincoln Boulevard.  


Historical Notes

The tunnel was formerly used, before its reconstruction into a much larger capacity road, by Pacific Electric Streetcar system.

Photo caption reads: "Through tunnel to coast at Santa Monica went a cavalcade of autos when the ribbon was cut February 1st. Flat arch construction and four traffic lanes are features."

 "Plans for an elaborate dedicatory ceremony which included a parade and barbecue in the tunnel were called off shortly before the exercises were to commence because of the unfavorable weather conditions." #**




(1936)^#^ – View showing hundreds of people at dedication of the new Santa Monica tunnel linking Roosevelt Highway with Olympic and Lincoln boulevards (Feb. 1, 1936).  


Historical Notes

The roof line of the Deauville Club located on Santa Monica Beach can be seen in the background.



(1936)^#^ – View showing a new Ford V-8 Fordor sedan as it exits the new tunnel in Santa Monica onto Olympic Boulevard, which leads to Lincoln Boulevard. The tunnel connected those streets with the Roosevelt Highway. The above photo was published in the Feb. 23, 1936 Los Angeles Times automotive page.  


Historical Notes

The roof line of the Deauville Club located on Santa Monica Beach can be seen in the background.



(1936)#^^ – Night view looking west toward the entrance to the new McClure Tunnel from the Olympic Boulevard side.  Photo Date:  May 22, 1936  






(1936)^**^ - Postcard view of the Santa Monica Pier and Beach looking from Palisades Park. Route 66, End of the Trail sign at lower right.




Historical Notes

In 1936, Route 66 was extended from downtown Los Angeles to Santa Monica, today the intersection of Olympic Boulevard and Lincoln Boulevard (a segment of State Route 1). Even though there is a plaque dedicating Route 66 as the Will Rogers Highway placed at the intersection of Ocean Boulevard and Santa Monica Boulevard, the highway never terminated there.

Route 66 was unofficially named "The Will Rogers Highway" by the U.S. Highway 66 Association in 1952, although a sign along the road with that name appeared in the John Ford film, The Grapes of Wrath, which was released in 1940, twelve years before the association gave the road that name. A plaque dedicating the highway to Will Rogers is still located in Santa Monica (Ocean and Santa Monica Boulevards).*^




(1937)* - Corner view of Palisades Park (right), shows the 297 foot drop-off onto the palisades. Parts of the Roosevelt Highway can be seen and the Santa Monica beach is in the background.  




(1937)* - View of the statue St. Monica for whom the city is named. The statue is located in Palisades Park in Santa Monica. Eugene Morahan is the sculptor.  


Historical Notes

The 18-ft. high Art Deco Sculpture for whom Santa Monica was named was sculpted in 1934 by Eugene Morahan as a Public Works of Art project and presented to the citizens of Santa Monica by the Federal Government.

Morahan and his wife (Grace) lived at the Tennis Club on Third Street in Santa Monica where the statue was caste in the backyard. It was to be installed during the celebration of Pioneer Day and as Morahan was under great pressure to complete his work by that deadline, he contacted his good friend and fellow sculptor, Gutzon Borglum to leave his work on Mount Rushmore and come down to help him finish his work on Saint Monica.+#



(2007)*^ - Close-up view of the statue of Santa Monica by Eugene Morahan. Photo by Sharon Mollerus  


Historical Notes

The statue is located at the foot of Wilshire Boulevard just a block or so north of Santa Monica Boulevard.




(ca. 1940)#^# – Postcard view showing a couple enjoying a leisurely day in the shade of a palm tree at Palisades Park, Santa Monica.  





(1928)^*^* - View of intersection of Santa Monica Blvd. and Third Street facing northeast, with pedestrians crossing street, vehicles in foreground and background, businesses, and Santa Monica City Hall. Legible business signs include: The Florsheim Shoe, Santa Monica Radio Co., Jeweler Ellis, Security Trust & Savings Bank. A clock on the right reads 12:20.  




(ca. 1926)#^ – View showing the intersection of Fourth Street and Santa Monica Boulevard with Santa Monica City Hall on the northwest corner, Security Trust and Savings Bank on the northeast corner, the Henshey-Tegner Building on the southeast corner, and Pacific Southwest Bank on the southwest corner.  


Historical Notes

In the 1920s, Santa Monica was thriving both as a popular tourist destination and as home to a budding aviation industry and other businesses. Though Santa Monicans had long trekked to downtown Los Angeles for important shopping, Santa Monica’s downtown was at last coming into its own as a full-service retail center. Henshey’s Department Store, founded by Harry C. Henshey and his partners, was crucial to this change. *##^




(ca. 1925)*##^ -  View looking at the southeast corner of Santa Monica Boulevard and Fourth Street showing the Henshey’s Department Store shortly after it was constructed.  


Historical Notes

Henshey’s was Santa Monica’s first department store and, at four stories, one of the city’s tallest commercial buildings. The building itself was owned by Charles Tegner, one of Henshey’s partners. Tegner built many commercial structures in Santa Monica and was a key figure in the city’s business community at the time. The architect selected for the building was also well-known locally—Henry C. Hollwedel.  Hollwedel began his career as an architect in New York but relocated here and completed many important commissions in Santa Monica, including the Santa Monica Bay Woman’s Club and the Mayfair Theatre.

The Henshey’s store, as originally designed by Hollwedel, was a steel frame and brick structure in the Beaux Arts Classical Revival style, a grandiose style often used in public buildings of the time. The original store featured bays of paired windows embellished with terra cotta details, as well as an imposing cornice and a terra cotta frieze. Santa Monica’s Outlook newspaper reported at the time that Henshey’s was “one of the best advertisements Santa Monica has ever had…its imposing bulk, towering over the adjacent structures around it arouses interest and speculation.” Even more important, Henshey’s showed that “Santa Monica is no longer a village with village stores and standards. She has grown up and is now a big city.” *##^




(ca. 1939)#*#* – View looking north on 4th Street toward Santa Monica Blvd. with the Central Tower Building on the left and Henshey’s Department Store on the right.  


Historical Notes

Although Henshey’s was praised when first constructed in 1925, the building was altered significantly as the years passed and architectural fashions changed. In 1936 it underwent a major remodel as the ground floor and mezzanine were remade in the Streamline Moderne style so popular in the 30s. At the same time, a one-story extension (also Streamline Moderne) was annexed to the building along Fourth Street. By the 1960s this look too was outdated, and in 1962 both the original four-story building and the annex were entirely encased behind punched aluminum screens, changing their look dramatically.

Henshey’s Department Store occupied these buildings from 1925 until 1992 when recession and competition from other retailers led to the store’s closing. Then, in the 1994 Northridge earthquake, the Henshey’s building and annex were damaged beyond repair and the landmark was demolished soon after. *##^




(1928)^*^* – View looking south on 4th Street from Santa Monica Boulevard. The Central Tower Building is at upper right.  


Historical Notes

Constructed in 1928, the symmetrical Central Tower Building is designed in the Art Deco style. The irregular-shaped building is comprised of two-story store fronts along the west side of 4th Street with an eight-story central tower rising from the middle of the 4th Street facing volume.

The building was designed by M. Eugene Durfee, constructed by C.L. Freeman and J. Wesley Forder, and developed by the Central Tower Investment Company and A.P. Creel.**#



(1930s)*^# - A woman walks by parked cars lining the street in front of the Central Tower Building in Santa Monica. The Art-Deco Central Tower Building was the beachfront city’s first skyscraper. It still stands at 1424 Fourth Street.  




(1938)* - View of Santa Monica Boulevard and 4th Street looking north. The City Hall, Altman's Fine Furniture store and a Grand Central Market is on the left. Security First National Bank, Stages Motor Coach and a Chop Suey restaurant can be seen on the right.  




(1938)* - General view of the main business intersection looking east from City Hall at Fourth Street and Santa Monica Boulevard. Hensley's Department Store can be seen in the background, and a bus is in the foreground.  




(1938)* - People getting off the bus in Santa Monica. It is one of the Bay Cities Transit Co. buses, which are used as a means of local transportation in Santa Monica. Across the street is a branch of Security-First National Bank.  




(1931)* - Exterior view of the Wilshire Theatre (later NuWilshire Theatre), located at 1314 Wilshire Boulevard in Santa Monica. Marquee reads "Gala premier opening Wednesday."  


Historical Notes

John M. Cooper designed this movie theater, which includes both Neoclassical and Art Deco architectural elements. When it opened in 1931 for stage and film productions, the theater had seating for 1,500 all in one auditorium, however two auditoriums were created in 1977 under the ownership of Mann Theatres. In the early 1990’s, Landmark Theatres took over operations and changed its name to NuWilshire.




(1938)^^^- View of the newly opened El Miro Theatre decorated with banners. A man on the roof appears to be installing additional banners. Bob and Millie's Coffee Shop is seen on the left. Sign reads: 2 Major Features - ANY SEAT - ANY TIME - 20 CENTS  


Historical Notes

Opened in 1938, the only part of the old El Miro Theatre that is left is the facade. The theater was razed in the late 80’s and the newer Cineplex Broadway 4 Theatre is located on that site now.***



(1938)^^^ - Interior view of the El Miro Theatre showing the Art Deco design on walls and ceiling.  


Historical Notes

The El Miro Theatre was designed by Norman W. Alpaugh.



(1938)^^^ - The Streamline Moderne El Miro Theatre located at 1441 Third Street in Santa Monica.  


Historical Notes

From the 60’s thru the 80’s, the El Miro Theatre was part of many chains including Century, Loew’s, GCC, and Metropolitan Theatres (Metropolitan being the last). Loew’s redressed the house in the early 70’s with those purple and blue curtains of that era. That was the last time this theater received a makeover before it was closed and demolished.***



(ca. 1926)** - Birdseye view of Pacific Coast Highway in Santa Monica from Palisades Park.  The steep cliffs of Palisades Park are visible at right, and a wooden fence can be seen running along the top edge. Below, a long line of buildings, including a bath house and the Gables Beach Club can be seen on the left side of Pacific Coast Highway.  


Historical Notes

In the 1920s and 30s, a number of fancy beach clubs were built along Santa Monica beach including the aptly named Santa Monica Athletic Club, the Beach Club, the Santa Monica Swimming Club, the Deauville, the Wavecrest, the Edgewater, and the Breakers. There was also the Gables Beach Club, a grand Tudor-style building (seen above) constructed in 1926. ##^^



(ca. 1926)** -  View of the Santa Monica beach from the palisades, showing the Gables Beach Club. A short pier or breakwater extends into the sea at center, and another can be seen in the distance at right.  


Historical Notes

The grand Tudor-style Gables Beach Club was  constructed in 1926. It was a popular filming location. After a fire partially destroyed it in 1930, the club was rebuilt and reopened as the Sorrento Beach Club in 1932. ##^^



(1920s)* - View showing Jack Dempsey boxing for a fund raiser in a ring outside the Gables Beach Club.  


Historical Notes

William Harrison "Jack" Dempsey became a cultural icon of the 1920s.  He held the World Heavyweight Championship from 1919 to 1926, and his aggressive style and exceptional punching power made him one of the most popular boxers in history. Many of his fights set financial and attendance records, including the first million-dollar gate.*^



(1927)** - View looking north along Coast Highway from point just north of Colorado Street, Santa Monica. Also visible are: lumber and other construction supplies, workmen, pedestrians, railroad tracks, embankment at the top of which are palm trees, utility poles and lines, buildings (businesses mostly), a few parked automobiles. Legible signs include: "Auto Park", "Santa Monica Athletic Club", "Parking 25¢".  




(1927)** - View looking south along Coast Highway from point just north of Colorado Street, Santa Monica, showing entrance to the Pacific Electric Railway tunnel under Ocean Avenue.  Also visible are: lumber and other construction supplies, generator, parked automobiles, embankment, utility poles and lines, stairs up to Ocean Avenue, businesses, a few palm trees along Ocean Avenue. Legible signs include: "Lunch..., "Pier auto park", "Santa Monica Bath House".  To the right (out of view) is the Deauville Club, which is still under construction.  



(1927)** – View of beachgoers and the under-construction Deauville Club on the beach in Santa Monica.  The large building is at right and is mostly complete except for the wall facing the beach. There is scaffolding around one of the two large towers on the corners of the buildings. The beach in front of the club is crowded with bathers playing in the sand and the surf. Further down the beach at center are other beach clubs, including the Santa Monica Athletic Club.  


Historical Notes

The Deauville Club was located north of the Santa Monica Pier. It opened to the public in 1927 and was built on the site of the old North Beach House. It was modeled after a casino in Deauville, France, and considered to be one of the most beautiful beach clubs.*^*^



(ca. 1927)** – View of the beach in Santa Monica in front of the Deauville Beach Club. The wide sandy beach is at center and is crowded with bathers and their umbrellas. A pair of bicycles is leaning against a post at center. The beach is bordered at right by several large buildings, including the Deauville club in the foreground and the Santa Monica Athletic Club further in the distance.  




(ca. 1930)** -  View of Santa Monica Beach and Pier showing people standing at the rail of the wood-planked pier in the foreground as they look at the beach at center. People in bathing suits with umbrellas over them flood the sandy beach into the distance. The Santa Monica Athletic Club and part of the Deauville Club are in view at upper right.  




(1934)** - View of the Santa Monica Pier showing a jammed-packed parking lot in the foreground. Hundreds of beachgoers can be seen under umbrellas and in the water. In the background the pier can be seen, with several structures on it. The most notable building on the pier is the La Monica Ballroom with minarets topping each of its many towers. At upper left can be seen part of the castle-style Deauville Club.  




(1936)^#^ - A summer day at Santa Monica beach in front of the Deauville Beach Club. Photo Date: July 19, 1936.  




(ca. 1930s)**^ - Street side view of the castle-style Deauville Club located at the junction of the Roosevelt Highway and Olympic Blvd.  


Historical Notes

In 1930, the Los Angeles Athletic Club bought the Deauville Club and, in 1933, a breakwater built in the bay expanded the sandy beaches, creating more oceanfront space for the multitude of visitors to the area.^^#



(ca. 1930s)^^ - Interior view of the Deauville Club's lounge area with views of the surf.  


Historical Notes

The Deauville offered guest rooms, a gymnasium, a saltwater plunge, lockers and showers, lounge rooms, game rooms, private dining rooms, and a restaurant.^^#



(1930s)^^ - Interior view of the large, ornate dining hall at the Deauville Club. Chandeliers are seen hanging down from the high ceiling exposed beams.  




(1937)* - Close-up view of the Deauville Club as seen from the beach.  




(1938)#^^ – View showing an electric dredge in a pool of water in front of the Deauville Club. To the right of the Deauville Club and behind the dredge can be seen the west end of the McClure Tunnel.  


Historical Notes

The Deauville Club was greatly damaged by an arson fire and demolished in 1955.^^#




Santa Monica Pier

(1937)^#^ - Aerial photo of the Santa Monica Pier shoreline looking northwest. The Deauville Club sits to the north of the pier. The Casa del Mar Club is the first building located in the lower right corner. Photo by Spencer Air Service  


Historical Notes

A breakwater was built just off the Santa Monica Pier in 1933, creating a harbor for boat anchorage. Upon completion it stood 37-feet high and more than 100-feet wide at its base. It had the added effect of redistributing sand along the shore, creating the wide swath of beach north of the pier.*^*^

The harbor was home to a collection of yachts, fishing boats and a cruise liner to Catalina. It was also the home base for a shuttle service to offshore gambling operations run by mobster Tony Cornero until 1939 when then-Attorney General Earl Warren led a legal crusade to shut them down.

The last to go was Cornero’s flagship, the “Rex”, which was raided in 1939 during what came to be known as “The Battle of Santa Monica Bay”. After a three day standoff, Cornero surrendered because he “needed a haircut”. Government agents boarded the “Rex” and threw all of the gambling machines and tables overboard. Warren subsequently went on to become governor of California, and ultimately Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.^++




(ca. 1939)* – View showing a crowded Santa Monica Pier with the Looff Hippodrome seen in the upper-left.  




(ca. 1940)#^^ - Image of a line of people waving while standing under a neon sign for the Santa Monica Pier. The sign reads "Santa Monica Yacht Harbor Sport Fishing and Boating Cafes."  


Historical Notes

In 1940 the famous neon sign at the top of the Pier ramp was installed by the Santa Monica Pier Businessmen’s Association to celebrate the opening of the newly-built ramp. It is an internationally-recognized tourist destination and a symbol of the Southern California lifestyle.^++



(ca. 1940s)** - View looking toward the shoreline from the Santa Monica Pier showing cars parked and people walking.  The Deauville Club can be seen in the distance.  


* * * * *




(1930s)* - Members of one of the private clubs at a beach party; in the background is the Santa Monica pier.  




(1938)* - Sunbathers, beach volleyball players, and umbrellas crowd the beach before a line of private beach clubs interrupts their spread. A sign on the first wall, center, reads "Waverly Club, private beach, members only". The eight story building formerly was Breakers Beach Club, 1725 Promenade in Santa Monica. The next six story building is the Jonathan Club, formerly the Edgewater Beach Club, 1855 Promenade.  


Historical Notes

The Breakers Beach Club opened in 1926. The 8-story building had over 300 sleeping apartments and a full complement of amenities for guests. As ownership changed, it was also known as Club Lido. Eventually the club transitioned into a hotel, used to house military personnel during World War II. Later it was also known as the Chase Hotel.

The structure became an apartment building known as the Sea Castle Apartments in the 1960s. The building was completely destroyed by fire in 1996.*^*^



(1939)* - Miles of public beach serve millions of recreation-seekers along the Pacific shores of Los Angeles County. This scene is between Ocean Park and Venice on June 26, 1939.  




(n.d.)*#* - Crowded day at Ocean Park beach in Santa Monica.  




(1939)* - Not a parking space to be had. Another busy day at the beach in Santa Monica.  




(1948)* - View of the original Muscle Beach, located south of the Santa Monica pier, at a long, wooden platform constructed by the Works Progress Administration.  


Historical Notes

Muscle Beach is where the body was celebrated in its sunbaked glory as young men (and more than a few women) showed off their physical prowess by performing acrobatic and gymnastic routines. The original Muscle Beach disappeared in the late 1950s; the modern-day version is now located in Venice Beach.*



  (1948)^*^* - Mr. Muscles contestant performing acrobatic move as crowd watches at Muscle Beach in Santa Monica.  


Historical Notes

Beginning in 1934, the fantastic gymnastics shows held here made the site a major attraction and center of the international fitness movement led by Jack LaLanne, Steve Reeves and Joe Gold.*^*^



(1951)* - Two thousand people watch acrobatics during a program at which Downey dairyman Ken Cameron, 23, was chosen "Mr. Muscle Beach of 1951." He won over 15 others in the contest sponsored by the Santa Monica Recreation Department on July 4, 1951.  


Historical Notes

Acrobats, gymnasts and bodybuilders performed before large crowds, which often included Jayne Mansfield and Mae West. Santa Monica's Muscle Beach reached the height of its popularity in the 1940s before moving to its current location in Venice Beach in 1959.*^*^




(1949)#*#* – View showing a very crowded Muscle Beach.  Jumbo Malts - 25 Cents, Snow Cones - 10 Cents - Photo by Max Yavno  


Historical Notes

The 1940 opening of the first of an eventual nationwide chain of weightlifting gyms by famed pioneer gym chain operator, Vic Tanny, only two city blocks from Muscle Beach in Santa Monica is commonly considered a key contributor to the increasing attraction of bodybuilders and strength lifters to Muscle Beach from across the nation. By the 1950s Muscle Beach established worldwide fame and helped to popularize and bring legitimacy to physical culture with acrobatics and bodybuilding and contribute to a nationwide health and fitness movement continuing into the 21st century.*^




(1949)**^ - View of the beach in Santa Monica on a summer day.  




(1940s)+## - Closer view showing sunbathers enjoying a day at Santa Monica Beach, with the California Incline and Palisades Park in the background.  




(1940s)* - View overlooking Pacific Coast Highway. Palisades Park can be seen above the cliffs on the left. The Santa Monica beach is on the right, and La Monica's ballroom on the pier is in the distance. Pedestrian bridge over the highway is seen in the center of photo.  


Historical Notes

When the Pacific Coast Highway was built in 1927, new concrete steps and a bridge over the highway were built to to replace the wooden ones which allowed for continued beach access. In 1935, the bridge shown above replaced the one built in 1927.*^*^



(1997)* - Looking over the Pacific Coast Highway from Santa Monica Bluffs, with the Jonathan Club, the pier, and Palos Verdes Peninsula visible in the upper left. A continuous stream of cars can be seen as they travel along PCH below the pedestrian bridge; in contrast, the parking lot on the right is completely empty.  


Historical Notes

Today, Santa Monica has 4 pedestrian bridges that cross PCH with stairs that take you down to the beaches.^***



(1952)** - View showing a life guard jeep and rescue boat at Santa Monica Beach.  Caption reads:   “Rescue jeep's newest radio equipment to talk to (1) radio equipped lifeguard power rescue boat on emergency call and (2) lifeguard headquarters station (extreme right end of pier). Santa Monica is the only guard station on the coast with its own frequency, assigned by the Federal Communication Commission".   




(1950)**** - Surfing California. Surfing is more than a sport....it's a way of life!  


Historical Notes

"Out of water, I am nothing.” — Duke Kahanamoku

"Surfing’s one of the few sports where you look ahead to see what’s behind.” — Laird Hamilton

"One of the greatest things about the sport of surfing is that you need only three things: your body, a surfboard, and a wave.” — Naima Green



(1968)* - View of a young surfer riding a wave in Santa Monica.




1976)##^* – Wilshire Boulevard to Santa Monica Beach  


Historical Notes

Wilshire Boulvard runs 15.83 miles from Grand Avenue in Downtown Los Angeles to Ocean Avenue in the City of Santa Monica.*^



(1950s)+## - View showing a palm tree-lined Ocean Avenue with the Palos Verdes Peninsula in the distance.  


Historical Notes

Ocean Avenue is a road in Santa Monica that starts at the residential Adelaide Drive on the north end of Santa Monica and ends at Pico Boulevard. Ocean Avenue is the westernmost street in Santa Monica, and for most of its course it runs parallel to Palisades Park, whose bluffs overlook Pacific Coast Highway and Santa Monica State Beach.*^



(ca. 1950)##^* – View looking south down Third Street showing the Fox Criterion Theatre on the left, located at 1315 Third Street.  


Historical Notes

The Criterion Theatre was built in 1924 and was part of the Fox West Coast Thetres ciruit. In 1983, the theatre was rebuilt to make way for a new 6-plex.***



(2008)#*^# - Google street view of the Third Street Promenade showing the Criterion Theatre on the left.  


Historical Notes

Sitting near the AMC 7 and the Loews Cineplex Broadway 4, this popular movie house is located on Santa Monica’s bustling 3rd Street Promenade.

Mann Theatres took over the Criterion in 1991 and in 2001, remodeled the interior and exterior of the theater. The architectural firm Behr Browers Architects of Westlake CA were responsible for the remodel. It was one of the most successful theaters in the circuit.

The Criterion Theatre was closed on March 30, 2013 to make room for more retail stores.***




Before and After

(ca. 1950)##^* – View looking south down Third Street with the Fox Criterion Theatre on the left.   (2008)#*^# - View of the Third Street Promenade with the Criterion Theatre on the left.






(ca. 1955)*** – View looking north on Third Street in Santa Monica (now the Third Street Promenade). On the right legible signs include:  Santa Monica Colony Club, California Bank, Richmond’s, and in the distance, the Criterion Theatre.  


Historical Notes

Third Street Promenade has been a center of business in Santa Monica since the town's inception in the late 19th century. The Promenade's roots date back to the 1960s when three blocks of Third Street were converted into a pedestrian mall.*^



(1965)* - View showing the Third Street Promenade under construction.  


Historical Notes

“A 'pedestrians' paradise' is in the making in this Santa Monica Street. A three-block-long mall, free of vehicular traffic, is under construction in this area”. -  Herald Examiner - July 27, 1965.*




(1880)* - View of Third Street, between Utah and Oregon (now Santa Monica Boulevard).   (ca. 2010s)* - View of the Third Street Promenade.





(ca. 2010s)* - Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica. A Bar and Grill can be seen on the left side. Two fountains with art sculptures are in the middle of the mall. A Cineplex theater and a Broadway's Deli is on the right side. Three vendors with push carts can be seen towards the middle of the mall, with many people walking throughout the area. The Santa Monica beach is 3-4 blocks away.   


Historical Notes

Third Street Promenade's roots date back to the 1960s when three blocks of Third Street were converted into a pedestrian mall. Although successful, by the late 1970s, the Santa Monica Mall (as it was then called), was in need of modernization and a redesign. A new enclosed shopping center, Santa Monica Place (1980–2007), designed by Frank Gehry was added at the Promenade's southern end. A citywide bond measure was issued and architectural firm ROMA Design Group was hired to redesign Santa Monica Mall. The renamed Third Street Promenade opened on September 16, 1989. The project was part of a larger redevelopment effort, encompassing several blocks of Downtown Santa Monica. Santa Monica Place has since been renovated into a new open-air shopping and dining experience that re-opened on August 6, 2010.*^




(2013)*^^* - The Route 66 End of the Trail Sign is one of Santa Monica’s hidden gems, located on one end of the Santa Monica Pier.  


Historical Notes

Known as the Will Rogers Highway, the Mother Road and the Main Street of America, the 2,450-mile-long Route 66 was originally built to connect Chicago to Los Angeles. Though the actual end of the legendary highway has been debated for decades, this replica of the long-lost End of the Trail Sign officially marks the Western terminus of the great highway.*^^*




(2014)#*^^ - Route 66 - End of the Trail sign at the Santa Monica Pier with Ferris wheel in the background.










(2009)*^ - Panoramic view of the Santa Monica Pier as seen from an altitude of 2,000', looking south. Several rides of the pier’s amusement park, Pacific Park, can be seen including the large Ferris wheel.  






(2009)*^ - Panoramic view of the beach and pier in Santa Monica. The City's skyline can be seen in the background.  






(n.d.)++# - Sillhouette view of Santa Monica Pier.  




(2012)## – Close-up view of the Ferris wheel at Santa Monica Pier.  Photo by Carol M. Highsmith.  




(1988)* - Santa Monica Pier looking north on the first day of Spring. Photograph dated: March 21, 1988.  




(2008)*^ - View of Santa Monica Beach from the pier on a crowded day. In the distance can be seen the California Incline and some of the City's skyline.  





(2011)#*#* - View of the California Incline as seen from the Santa Monica Pier. LA Times Photo Archives  





(2012)**^ - View of one of two very large cannons located at Palisades Park. Three people are seen by the rail at the bluff's edge looking out toward Santa Monica Pier and Beach.  


Historical Notes

A pair of Civil War seacoast cannons dating from 1861 were given to the City of Santa Monica on July 4, 1908, by the U.S Veteran’s Administration. Originally, each of the mounted guns had a pyramidal stack of iron cannonballs beside it, which are now gone. One cannon is located north of Colorado Boulevard near the entrance to the Santa Monica Pier. The other cannon, is located north of the Recreation center. They are ten-inch Rodman smoothbore seacoast guns. Each of the cannons is twelve-feet long and weighs about sixteen tons. They came to Palisades Park from Angel Island.

Santa Monica was never defended with cannons during times of war, although it is said that during the Spanish-American War, the city engineer mounted lengths of large pipes along the bluff to give the impression that the city was heavily fortified.#^#^



(n.d.)* - Tall palm trees line the walking path in Palisades Park. The Santa Monica beach can be seen in the background.  


Historical Notes

In recognition of its value as a historic resource and cultural landscape, Palisades Park was designated as a Santa Monica landmark in 2007.




(n.d.)^^* - Panoramic view showing stairs and bridge connecting Palisades Park with the Santa Monica Beach.  





(1988)* - Two bike riders take advantage of springtime in January while they take in the sights along the sunny, wind-swept beach path between Santa Monica and Venice Beach. Photograph dated: Jan. 26, 1988.  





(1986)* - A large colony of seagulls fills the sky over on a beach in Santa Monica, where a woman is seen jogging near the water.  




(n.d.)* - Sunset over the Pacific Ocean as seen at Santa Monica Beach.  




(n.d.)*^^^ - The iconic Santa Monica Pier at sunset.  



* * * * *




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References and Credits

* LA Public Library Image Archive

^ LADWP Historic Archive

**USC Digital Library

^^California State Library Image Archive

^* LMU Digital Collection: Arcadia Hotel

*# The Los Angeles Country Metro Division 7

^# L.A. as Subject

+# Santa Monica Mirror: Statue of Santa Monica

+^ Santa Monica Landmarks: Looff Hippodrome

++ Unknown Source

#* LA Times: Marquez Family

#^ Santa Monica Public Library Image Archive

#+ Wehoville.com: Balloon Route

## Library of Congress: Santa Monica Bay ca. 1908; Ferris Wheel

#**MTA Transportation and Research Library Archives

#^*Ocean Park History: oceanpark.wordpress.com

#*^Electric Railway History: Venice Trams

***Cinema Treasures: El Miro Theatre; Criterion Theatre and Thrid Street; Criterion Theatre

+++Vanderbilt Cup Races

*^^Maudelynn's Menagerie

*^#Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles: losangelespast.com

^*#Huntington Palisades - A Brief History

**#The Central Tower Building - City Landmark Assessment and Evaluation Report


^^#University of California Digital Library: The Deauville Club

^^+Stanford University Revs Digital Library

^++Santa Monica Pier HIstory

#^^Huntington Digital Library Archive; Arcadia Roller Coaster; Arcadia Roller Coaster 2; Visitors to SM Beach; Southern Pacific RR

#^#Calisphere Digital Archive

*#*KCET: A Historical Look at SoCal's Beaches; Arch Rock and Castle Rocks; Rail Returns to the Westside: The Expo Line's Historical Precursors; When L.A.'s Most Famous Streets Were Dirt Roads

*#^Santa Monica Public Library

^#*Santa Monica History Museum

^#^Framework.latimes.com: Santa Monica Beach, 1936; Santa Monica Aerial, 1937; McClure Tunnel

^##The Malibu Times: On the Villa de Leon; Historic Las Flores Canyon

+##Facebook.com: Vintage Los Angeles

##+Hagley Digital Archives

#++Bel-Air Bay Club History

*^*Paradise Leased: Arcadia Hotel

**^Noirish Los Angeles - forum.skyscraperpage.com; The Long Wharf; Camera Obscura; Deauville Club; 1918 Bathing Beautys; Palisades Park Cannon; Acadamy of the Holy Names

^^*Deviantart-Studio5: Santa Monica Beach

^^^California State Library Image Archiv

****Life.time.com: Stoked-Life Goes Surfing

^^^^Pinterest/Santa Monica Past: Santa Monica Canyon Flood; Santa Monica Airport/Clover Field; Douglas Aircraft

*^*^Santa Monica Beach Stories

^*^*UCLA Digital Collection

*^^*Discoverlosangeles.com: Santa Monica

^**^California Legends: Santa Monica at the End of Route 66

**^^TheLosAngelesBeat.com: Camera Obscura

^^**Atlas Obscura: Santa Monica Camera Obscura

*^^^NonPhotography.com-Nika: Santa Monica Pier

***^History of the Fairmont Miramar Hotel and Bungalows

^***Southern California Beaches: Santa Monica Beach

*#**Los Angeles Westerners Corral: Venice Miniature Railway

*##*AkamaIdivers.com: Pacific Ocean Pier

*##^Santa Monica Conservancy; Henshey’s Tegner Building

*#*#Los Angeles Then and Now: Douglas' Dream Took Wing in Santa Monica

*#^#Flickr.com: Walking Over Santa Monica

^#*#Venice History: Roller Coasters and Carousels

**#*Santa Monica via Beverly Hills Line - uncanny.net

^^*#Oceanpark.wordpress.com: Ocean Park Time Line

*^*#Santa Monica Municipal Airport


^*##Facebook.com - Bizarre Los Angeles

*^^#LAistory: The Santa Monica Pier

^##^San Fernando Valley Historical Society/Facebook.com 1st Mail Wagon

^##*Inthecanyon.com: History of Santa Monica Canyon

^#^#CSUN Oviatt Library Digital Archives

#***California 2012 - Travel w/ Terry: Annenberg Beach House

#^^^Survey LA: Brentwod-Pacific Palisades Community Plan Area

#^*^Santa Monica Landmark Properties

#*^*Cardcow.com: Marion Davies' Mansion

#*^#Google Street Views

#*^^Pinterest.com: California

#^^*Pinterest.com: Old Hollywood

#*#*Flickr.com: Michael Ryerson

#^#*Denver Public Library Image Archive

#^#^Paslisades Park: smgov.net

##^*Facebook.com: Classic Hollywood-Los Angeles-SFV

##*^Facebook.com: Hollywood's Garden of Allah Novels, Martin Turnbull

##^^MartinTurnbull.com: Gables Beach Club

#**#Santa Monica Local History: blogspot.com



*#*#*Venice Miniature Railroad - Jeffrey Stanton

*^ Wikipedia: California State Route 1; History of Santa Monica; Los Angeles and Independence Railroad; Griffith J. Griffith; Alphonzo Bell; Venice; California Incline; Route 66; Third Street Pomenade; Memorial Day; Pacific Electric Railway; Santa Monica Pier; Casa del Mar Hotel; Pacific Palisades - Castellammare; Parkhurst Building; Venice Canal HIstoric District; Thelma Todd; Annenberg Community Beach House; Santa Monica High School; Jack Dempsey; Muscle Beach; Wilshire Boulevard


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