Early Views of Santa Monica

Historical Photos of Early Santa Monica
 
(ca. 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.  

 

 

 

Los Angeles and Independence Railroad

 
(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.*^

 

 

 

 
(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

The Los Angeles and Independence Railroad 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.

 

 

 

Los Angeles Independence Railroad Wharf (aka Shoo Fly Wharf)

 
(1877)* - View of the wharf built by the Los Angeles Independence Railroad Co. in Santa Monica (aka Shoo Fly Landing).  

 

Historical Notes

As soon as work started on Los Angeles Independence Railroad line from Los Angeles to Santa Monica the construction of a new wharf was begun. This was located near the old "Shoo Fly" landing and near the present foot of Colorado Street, where a stub of the old wharf still remains. The first pile was driven April 22nd, 1875, and the first boat landed at the wharf in June. This wharf was 1700 feet in length and reached a depth of thirty feet at low tide. It was substantially built, with depot, and warehouses at its terminus and cost about $45,000.

The wharf would be sold to Southern Pacific Railway Company in 1877. One short year later, Southern Pacific deemed the wharf unsafe for train usage and by 1888 it was torn down. ###

 

 

 

 
(1877)#^^ - Panoramic view of the shoreline as seen from the roof of a railroad train at end of the Los Angeles and Independence Wharf with the Santa Monica Hotel on the Palisades bluffs and the Santa Monica Bath House on the beach below.  

 

Historical Notes

Photo date devised based on the history of the Santa Monica Hotel, which was built in 1877 and the history of the photographer, Carleton E. Watkins, who made two visits to Southern California in 1877 and 1880.

 

 

 

Santa Monica Beach

 
(1870s)#^^ - Stereoscopic photo showing the beach in Santa Monica with beachgoers and buildings visible, including Michael Duffy's bathhouse visible in the background at the foot of the stairs along the Palisades cliffs. Note the horseback rider on the beach.  

 

Historical Notes

Duffy’s Bathhouse was the first bathhouse on Santa Monica’s beach. It 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.

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1884)** -  View showing the Santa Monica Bathhouse next to Duffy's Bathhouse on Santa Monica Beach.  The long, two-story barn-style bathhouse 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.  

Historical Notes

The Santa Monica Bathhouse was built next to Duffy's Bath House in 1876 by Baker & Jones and located at the foot of Utah Avenue. It featured rooms for rent, enormous bathtubs and two steam rooms. It was replaced by the North Beach Bath House in 1898.

 

 

 
(ca. 1885)* - View of the beachfront Santa Monica Bathhouse alongside Duffy's Bathhouse. At center-right can be seen the roofline of the new Santa Monica Hotel (built in 1885).  

 

 

Santa Monica Hotel

 
(1885)#^^ - Image of the Santa Monica Hotel on Ocean Avenue with railroad tracks visible in the foreground. A sign that reads "sea shells" is painted on a building at right.  

 

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)* - Closer view of 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

A later image with a bridge built over the ravine that is visible in the center of this image is seen HERE.

 

 

 
(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.  

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1885)#^^ - View showing the Santa Monica Hotel on Ocean Avenue with horse-drawn wagons and buggies in front and people standing on the porch and balcony. The larger back building housed the sleeping quarters, the front building had offices and the dining room.  

 

 

 

 

 
(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.  

 

 

 

Duffy's and Santa Monica Bathhouses

 
(ca. 1877)* - View looking at the shoreline from near the end of the Los Angeles and Independence Wharf with the Santa Monica Hotel on the Palisades and the Santa Monica Bathhouse on Sunset Beach between Colorado and Utah (now Broadway).  

 

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.*^*^

 

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1877)#^^ - Image of people on the beach in front of the Santa Monica Bath House and Michael Duffy's Bath House (two long one-story buildings at right of the two-story Santa Monica Bath House) with the Santa Monica Hotel on the bluffs at right and the Ocean House on the bluffs among the trees at far left.  

 

Historical Notes

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. 1880)* - 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

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.*

 

 

 

Santa Monica Beach

 
(1880)#^^ - Image of people on the beach in front of the Santa Monica Bath House and Michael Duffy's Bath House (two long one-story buildings at right of the two-story Santa Monica Bath House) with the Santa Monica Hotel on the bluffs at right and the Ocean House on the bluffs among the trees at far left.  

 

 

 

 

 
(1880s)#^^ - View showing people on the beach and in the surf in front of the Santa Monica Bath House in Santa Monica, with trees on the bluffs above. A group of women in plain clothes are standing in the foreground. There is a boardwalk near the shops with signs that read "Coffee and Ice Cream Parlor" and "Fruits, Candies, Lemonade, Cigars." A windmill is visible behind the buildings.  

 

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1880)#^^ -  Image of 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.  

 

 

 

 

 
(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". The Santa Monica Bathhouse is seen on the right.  

 

 

 

Santa Monica Canyon

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

 

 

 

 

 
(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 claimed the land for Spain. Soldiers gave the name Santa Monica to a mountain creek that flowed to the Pacific. #*

 

 

 
(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.^##*

 

 

 

Marquez Adobe

 
(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."  

 

 

Marquez Bath House

 
(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.

 

 

 

 

First Stage and Mail Service

 
(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.^##^

 

 

 

 

Early Santa Monica Beach Views

 
(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)#^^ - 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)* - 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.  

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 
(1888)#^^ - Image of a group of people with an umbrella on the beach in Santa Monica. The Arcadia Hotel and the remains of the Los Angeles and Independence Wharf are seen in the distance.  

 

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.^*

 

 

 

 

 
(1893)#^^ - View looking south showing North Beach and the Arcadia Hotel with the Southern Pacific Railroad tracks running next to the Beach Road in Santa Monica.  The Santa Monica Bath House and the remains of the Los Angeles and Independence Wharf are visible at right and the Palisades Bluffs are visible at left.  

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

Arcadia Hotel

 
(1887)* - Exterior view of the east front of the Arcadia Hotel in Santa Monica soon after 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. The hotel was built next to a steep cliff and shows only 3 stories on the Ocean Avenue side and 5 stories on the beach side.  

 

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.^*

 

 

 

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

 

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.*^*

 

 

 
(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.  

 

 

 

 

 

 
(1887)*^ – View looking North from top of the newly-built Arcadia Hotel showing the Los Angeles & Independence Railroad Santa Monica station.  The coastline and Palisades are seen on the left.  

 

 

 

 
(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 Los Angeles & Independence Railroad Santa Monica Depot is on the right.  

 

 

 

Thompson Gravity Switchback Railroad (aka Switchback Roller Coaster)

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

 

Historical Notes

A special delight for Arcadia Hotel 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. For five cents, riders would climb a platform to board the large bench-like car and were pushed off to coast 300 ft. down the track across the ravine.  The car went just over 6 mph.  At the top of the other platform the vehicle was switched to a return track or "switched back" (hence the name). *^

 

 

 

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

 

Historical Notes

The original Switchback Railway (Coney Island) was the first roller coaster designed as an amusement ride in America. It was designed by LaMarcus Adna Thompson in 1881 and constructed in 1884. It appears Thompson based his design, at least in part, on the Mauch Chunk Switchback Railway which was a coal-mining train that had started carrying passengers as a thrill ride in 1827. *^

 

 

 

 
(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.

 

 

 

 

 
(1894)* - Bird’s eye view looking north from the Arcadia Hotel showing the bridge over the gulch that was later occupied by the Roosevelt Highway. Note that the Switchback Roller Coaster is no longer there. Click HERE to see same view in 1888.  

 

 

 

 

 
(1894)*^ – View looking northeast from the Arcadia Hotel showing hotel on corner, horse-drawn trolley in street (left), Santa Monica railroad station with train (distant left), Santa Monica Stables (center right), and landscaped parkway (center foreground).  

 

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1898)#^^ - Postcard view showing the beach side of the Arcadia Hotel and bath house as seen from the 1898-built North Beach Bath House Pier.   The portion of a pier at left is the remains of the Los Angeles & Independence Railroad Wharf.  

 

Historical Notes

The hotel was built next to a steep cliff and shows only 3 stories on the Ocean Avenue side and 5 stories on the beach side as seen above.

 

 

 

 
(1890s)* - Slightly different view of the Arcadia Hotel with the remains of the Los Angeles & Independence Railroad Wharf on the left.  

 

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1898)#^^ - Image of the North Beach Bath House and Arcadia Bath Houses on the beach with people lying in the sand and piers visible in the distance.  Signs are visible that read "Anheuser Busch beer St. Louis Eckert & Hopf" and "Arcadia Bathhouse." The portion of the pier at center is the remains of the Los Angeles & Independence Railroad Wharf.  

 

Historical Notes

The North Beach Bath House was built in 1898 and replaced the 1876-built Santa Monica Bath House.

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1898)#^^ -  View looking south from the North Beach Bath House showing the beach and pier (remaining portion of the Los Angeles and Independence Pier) near the Arcadia Hotel and Arcadia Bath House. Visible signs include "Arcadia Bath House, 500 new suits, new tubs, fish grill room" and "Casa Colorado" (partially painted over Anheuser Busch lettering). People are seen walking along a wooden boardwalk, including women with parasols, horse-drawn wagons, a carousel tent, and various small boats on the sand are also visible. A windmill can be seen in the distance.  

 

 

 

 

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

 

Historical Notes

When it opened in 1887, Santa Monica's ritzy Arcadia Hotel offered its guests a large saltwater bathhouse, 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.  

 

 

 

 

 
(1890s)* - 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. 1890s)#^^ – 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.

 

 

 

 
(1904)#^^ – View showing the alluvial bluffs of Palisades Park with the Arcadia Hotel in the distance at center and the North Beach Bath House at right.  Train tracks are visible below the cliffs, behind the bathhouse and the North Beach Pier (built in 1898) is seen at far right.  

 

 

 

 
(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.  

 

 

 

 

 
(1890s)#^^ - View showing a group of men, women and children wearing bathing suits and caps and holding seaweed while standing in an incoming wave on the beach in Santa Monica, with a pier at right.  

 

 

 

 

 
(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.  

 

 

 

Senator Jones Residence

 
(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.**

 

 

 

 

 
(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.  

 

 

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.  

 

 

 

 

 
(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.  

 

 

 

 
(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 Canyons. 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.  

 

 

 

 
(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.” ^*#

 

 

 

 
(1930)#^^ - View looking north showing the Roosevelt Highway (later Pacific Coast Highway) with the Pacific Ocean, mountains, beach, and automobiles visible along the coastline in Pacific Palisades near Topanga Canyon.  

 

 

 

 

 
(1920s)* - Looking south along Roosevelt Highway (PCH by end of 1930), in Pacific Palisades. The highway runs parallel with the ocean where visitors enjoy the sun and surf. Visible in the distance, the landmark Lighthouse Bathhouse that stood on Pacific Coast Highway at the point where the Santa Monica Mountains come down to the shore.  

 

 

 

Pacific Palisades Lighthouse and Bathhouse

 
(ca. 1927)#^^ - Panoramic view of Santa Monica Bay showing the Roosevelt Highway (later Pacific Coast Highway), Santa Monica Bay, and coastline with the Lighthouse Bathhouse on the beach next to the remains of the Long Wharf stone jetty in Pacific Palisades. The Santa Monica Pier can be seen in the distance at upper left center. A sign for "Huntington Palisades" is seen at left edge of image.  

 

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. 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 Lighthouse” restaurant and bathhouse opened for business on Memorial Day, 1927. Built by the Pacific Palisades Association and designed by architect Thomas P. Barber, the bathhouse featured a second floor dining room, a wrap-around Venetian colonnade, and was large enough to accommodate 500 patrons. +#+#

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1920s)** - View looking down from the canyon of where the Long Wharf used to extend into the ocean. The Pacific Palisades Lighthouse and Bathhouse are seen with an adjacent parking lot full of cars.  

 

Historical Notes

Although it was not a true lighthouse, the picturesque building was commonly featured in promotional photographs and materials advertising Southern California. It was also an important visual point of reference for boats navigating into Santa Monica Bay. +#+#

 

 

 
(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.  

 

Historical Notes

The most distinctive feature was the 50-foot tall lighthouse tower with a functioning beacon powered by eight 500-watt lamps. The Lighthouse was a popular destination and become an iconic landmark as the Roosevelt Highway (later the PCH) opened up through Malibu in 1929, connecting all of California along a single coast highway. +#+#

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1927)#^^ - View showing construction workers working on a walkway and staircases of the Lighthouse Bathhouse on the beach in Pacific Palisades, with a small part of the remains of the Long Wharf at far right. A sign for the Huntington Palisades general sales office can be seen on a cliff above.  

 

Historical Notes

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. 1930)* - Looking down from Palisades Park in Santa Monica north towards the Lighthouse bathhouse 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).
 

 

 

 

Before and After

 
 
(1916)** vs. (1927)* - View showing the Long Wharf (1893 - 1920) and the Pacific Palisades Lighthouse and Bathhouse (1927 - 1972) at the same location. The beach seen in the foreground is today's Will Rogers Beach.  

 

Historical Notes

The Long Wharf 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.

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1940)+#+# – Panoramic view showing the Pacific Palisades Lighthouse, restaurant and bathhouse and Pacific Coast Highway.  

 

Historical Notes

Over the decades, as the popularity of bathhouses faded, the patronage of the Lighthouse diminished. Eventually, the building was taken over by the Will Rogers State Beach lifeguard, serving as a part of the lifeguard headquarters. By 1972, the Lighthouse structure was determined to be unsuitable for habitation and was razed.

 

 

 

Inceville

 
(ca. 1915)#^ - View from the Palisades looking toward Malibu showing Inceville, the famed motion picture studio founded by Thomas Ince.  

 

Historical Notes

In 1911, film director Thomas Ince created his Western film factory, "Inceville," which at its peak employed nearly 600 people.*^

 

 

 

 
(1915)* - View of Inceville, on Sunset Boulevard (Santa Ynez Canyon) at the Pacific Ocean, where Ince Studios filmed location scenes.  

 

Historical Notes

Ince leased 18,000 acres of land extending from the seashore up Santa Ynez Canyon and into the mountains for 7-1/2 miles. While he was building the frame-structured studio buildings, situated where Gladstone’s Restaurant is today, he also hired Miller’s 101 Ranch Wildwest Show, including many cowboys, animals and a Sioux Indian tribe, who set up their teepees on the property.**^

 

 

 
(ca. 1916)**^ - The mouth of Santa Ynez Canyon at the Pacific Ocean was once home of Inceville, an early 1900s film studio built by film director Thomas Ince.  

 

Historical Notes

Most of the cowboys, Indians and assorted workmen lived at Inceville, while the actors came from Los Angeles and other communities as needed, taking the red trolley cars to the Long Wharf at Potrero Canyon, where buckboards conveyed them to the set. Ince lived in a house that overlooked Inceville, the location of Marquez Knolls today.**^

 

 

 
(1916)#^ – View showing the Inceville Studios built by silent film producer Thomas H. Ince at the mouth of Santa Ynez Canyon.  

 

 

 

 
(1916#^ - Looking down Sunset Boulevard with a view of silent film producer Thomas Ince's Inceville Studios in Santa Ynez Canyon.  

 

 

 

 

 
(n.d.)*^ - Map showing the location of Incville relative to where Sunset and PCH are situated today.  

 

Historical Notes

By 1916, Ince was supervising eight directors and releasing one five-reel picture (about 50-minute films) each week at an average cost of $40,000. His film ‘Civilization,’ which employed over 25,000 extras, was by far his most ambitious endeavor. The set for the mythical city stood alone on the barren hills, where Marquez Elementary School is today. It was built by 60 carpenters over a period of three months at a cost of $80,000 and was used for only 100 feet of film.**^

 

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1916)*^ - View of houses and stage sets at Incville. Large sign on one of the buildings reads: Triangle Ranch.  

 

Historical Notes

Incville's cost continued to rise as moviegoers enjoyed the more expensive feature films, which used five reels or more.  Ince, through his alliance with Triangle, a production company founded by D. W. Griffith and Mark Sennett, built a new studio in Culver City to use for indoor movies, while retaining Inceville for outdoor locations and Westerns.

Ironically, on January 16, 1916, a few days after opening of his Culver City studio, a fire broke out at Inceville, the first of many which would eventually destroy all of the dry frame buildings. That same year, Ince gave up on Inceville and sold it to Hart, who renamed it Hartville.  Three years later, Hart sold the lot to Robertson-Cole, which continued filming until 1922.**^

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1915)#^^ - View showing a man standing on a bridge leading to Inceville Movie Studio village on the beach at Pacific Palisades in Santa Monica. A sign on the bridge reads "Take this newly completed scenic drive Santa Monica Los Angeles."  

 

 

* * * * *

 

 

 

Santa Monica North Beach

 
(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.  

 

 

 

 

 
(1893)#^^ - View showing restaurants on the North Beach, as seen from the Arcadia Hotel. Signs on the restaurants read "Hot and cold lunches, Eckert and Hopf, Anheuser Busch Lager Beer" "Pavilion Restaurant" and "John Wieland lager beer." The Santa Monica Bath House is seen beyond the "John Wieland" sign, with a bandstand shell on the bluffs above (in present-day Palisades Park) and the Long Wharf visible in the distance.  

 

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1893)* - View of Santa Monica beach 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.  

 

Historical Notes

The Santa Monica Bath House was replaced by the North Beach Bath House in 1898.

Two piers are seen in the above view. The lower pier is the remains of the Los Angeles & Independence Railroad Wharf. The pier further north is the North Beach Pier, built in 1898 (same year as the North Beach Bath House).

 

North Beach Pier

 
(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.

The remains of the 1875-built Los Angeles & Independence Railroad Wharf is further south closer to the Arcadia Hotel.

 

 

 
(ca. 1898)* - View showing people walking on the boardwalk, sitting on the beach, and enjoying the surf with the North Beach Pier seen in the background. This was considered casual attire in the 1890s.  

 

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1900)#^^ - Postcard view showing a line of seagulls perched on a railing of the North Beach Bath House Pier. In the background is the brick Santa Monica Electric and Power Co. and Eckert & Hopf's Restaurant. Steps can be seen leading down from the Palisades bluffs.  

 

Historical Notes

Santa Monica Electric Company built a power house on the beach in the late 1890s.

 

 

 

 
(1901)#^^ - Image of the first house on the beach in Santa Monica, California, with the North Beach Bath House and North Beach Bath House Pier visible just south of the house, and the Arcadia Hotel, with one tower, in the distance. The Beach Road (which later became Pacific Coast Highway) and Southern Pacific Railroad tracks are seen behind the house next to the cliffs of Palisades Park, with a water tower at far center left.  

 

 

 

North Beach Bath House

 
(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.  

 

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.*^*^

 

 

 
(1898)#^^ – View showing people in front of the North Beach Bath House and Bowling Pavilion on the beach and boardwalk and carrying umbrellas. An edge of the North Beach Bath House Pier can be seen at bottom right.  

 

 

 

 

 
(1901)#^^ - Image of people, including children, swimming in the North Beach Bath House salt water plunge in Santa Monica. A sign that reads "deep water" hangs at the center of image above the indoor pool.  

 

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1900)* - 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.  

 

 

 

 

 
(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.  

 

 

 

Camera Obscura

 
(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 cowds 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.  

 

 

 

Los Angeles Pacific Electric Railway

 
(1896)* - Opening of the Los Angeles Pacific 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."  

 

 

 

Whitaker Ranch

 
(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.*

 

 

 

 

Ocean Park Pier

 
(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 (This area would become Palisades Park).  

 

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.*^*^

 

 

 

 
(1898)** - 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.  

 

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1900)* - A family is camping on the 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.  

 

 

"99 Steps"

 
(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.

 

 

 
(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 showing a Southern Pacific train on the beach with the Santa Monica Palisades in the background.  

 

 

 

 

 
(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.
 

 

 

 

 

 
(1920s)#^^ - Postcard view showing the '99 steps' leading down from the Palisades bluff, over the coast road to the beach in Santa Monica, with a building with an awning that reads "Public Welcome." Trees and fence of Palisades Park are seen at the top of the bluff.  

 

 

* * * * *

 

 

 

Arriving in Santa Monica

 
(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.  

 

 

 

Beach Views

 
(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.  

 

 

 

 

Santa Monica City Views

 
(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.*^

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 
(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 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.*^

 

 

 

 

* * * * *

 

 

 

More Historical Early Views

 

 

Newest Additions

 

 

Early LA Buildings and City Views

 

 

History of Water and Electricity in Los Angeles

 

 

* * * * *

 

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 County Metro Division 7

^# L.A. as Subject

#* LA Times: Marquez Family

#^ Santa Monica Public Library Image Archive

#+ Wehoville.com: Balloon Route

++ Unknown Source

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

*^*Paradise Leased: Arcadia Hotel

*^^Maudelynn's Menagerie

**^Noirish Los Angeles - forum.skyscraperpage.com; The Long Wharf; Camera Obscura; Acadamy of the Holy Names; Inceville - Inceville - palipost.com

*#*KCET: Arch Rock and Castle Rocks; Rail Returns to the Westside: The Expo Line's Historical Precursors

^#*Santa Monica History Museum

^*#Huntington Palisades - A Brief History

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

#**MTA Transportation and Research Library Archives

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

^##The Malibu Times: On the Villa de Leon

###Ingersoll's Century History, Santa Monica Bay Cities

^++Santa Monica Pier HIstory

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

**^^TheLosAngelesBeat.com: Camera Obscura

^^**Atlas Obscura: Santa Monica Camera Obscura

^*##Facebook.com - Bizarre Los Angeles

*^^#LAistory: The Santa Monica Pier

*##^Santa Monica Conservancy

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

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

^#^#CSUN Oviatt Library Digital Archives

+#+#The Famous Lighthouse that Almost Came to Pepperdine

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

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

#^^*Pinterest.com: Old Hollywood

#^#*Denver Public Library Image Archive

*^Wikipedia: California State Route 1; History of Santa Monica; Los Angeles and Independence Railroad; Griffith J. Griffith; Memorial Day; Pacific Electric Railway; Thelma Todd

 

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