Early Views of Santa Monica

Historical Photos of Early Santa Monica
 
(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 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

Today, the California Incline 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.

 

 

 
(ca. 1905)* - View shows a wooden fence along an unpaved California Incline with the Long Wharf 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. Note the pedestrian trail at center-top.   

 

 

 

 

 
(1910s)#^^ - View from Palisades Park looking down a pedestrian trail that intersects the California Incline road, with the beach, and Santa Monica Pier and Ocean Park amusement piers in the background.  Note the observation deck at right.  

 

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1905)#^^ - View looking down the California Incline road in Santa Monica towards the beach and railroad tracks. The Southern Pacific Railroad ran steam engines along these tracks between Los Angeles and the Long Wharf (seen in distance at left). A few telephone poles can also be seen, as well as the wagon trail that ran alongside the railroad tracks.  

 

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1910)#^^ - View looking south at the California Incline road coming down from the bluffs to the beach, in Santa Monica. The North Beach Bath House Pier is in the distance. Railroad tracks can be seen running along the beach road below.  

 

 

 

 

 
(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)^^ - 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.  

 

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*^

 

 

 

Sunset Trail

 
(1910s)#^^ - View of Sunset Trail from Linda Vista Park (present day Palisades Park) to Palisades Beach Road in Santa Monica. A sign hangs from a rustic wooden archway that reads "Sunset Trail to Palisades Beach Road." The 99 Steps can be seen over the Beach Road (later part of Pacific Coast Highway) at left and the Long Wharf is visible in the distance.  

 

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. 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"  

 

 

 

 

 
(1910)#^^ - Postcard view of showing houses, a dirt coast road, an automobile and railroad tracks along the beach at Santa Monica, with the Santa Monica municipal pier in the background. The Sunset Trail is seen on the left.  

 

 

 

 

 
(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)^^ - 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.*^

 

 

Pier Avenue

 
(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.  

 

 

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Venice Pier

 
(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. The pier was destroyed by fire in 1920.  

 

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 Avenue 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.

 

 

 

North Beach

 
(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.  

 

 

 

North Beach Bath House

 
(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 Bath House in Santa Monica.  

 

Historical Notes

The North Beach Bath House replaced the original Santa Monica Bath House in 1894. It 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.  

 

 

 

Santa Monica Municipal Pier

 
(1909)#^^ - View showing people walking onto the Santa Monica Municipal Pier on Pier Day, September 9, 1909, in Santa Monica.  In the distance United States Naval vessels are seen anchored offshore for the event.  

 

Historical Notes

On September 9, 1909, after sixteen months of construction, the Santa Monica Municipal Pier opened to the public. Thousands of people swarmed onto the 1,600-foot-long concrete pier to enjoy a festive day of band concerts, swimming races and the novelty of walking above the waters of the Pacific Ocean. While originally built to satisfy the City's sanitation needs, the Pier quickly became a magnet for the fishing community and fueled the imagination of many local entrepreneurs.^++

 

 

 
(ca. 1909)** - 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 (Santa Monica Municipal 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 can be seen Santa Monica Municipal Pier.  

 

 

 

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.  

 

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.*^*^

 

 

 

 
(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

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. ^^*#

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1910)#^^ – Panoramic view showing people on the beach in front of the Ocean Park Bath House at Ocean Park, in Santa Monica.  

 

 

 

 

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

 

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. Fraser built numerous improvements in Ocean Park, and is responsible for the construction of the concrete promenade which joins Ocean Park with Venice. #^*

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 
(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.  

 

 

 

 
(1921)*^ - A view of the beach and ocean water with the Ocean Park Bath House in the background, offering (sign over the door) moonlight bathing. To the right is a building Denver Hotel with a sign below it announcing Yosemite Auction.  

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1925)#*#* - Bathers and lifeguard on boardwalk in front of Ocean Park Bath House.  

 

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Early Santa Monica Street Scenes

 
(1910)* - View shows two automobiles driving on the 400 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.  

 

 

 

Jefferson School (Santa Monica's 1st School Building)

 
(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.*#^

 

 

Santa Monica City Hall

 
(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.^#*

 

 

Santa Monica High School

 
(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.*^

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1922)#^^ - Image of the main entrance wing of Santa Monica High School and grounds on Pico Boulevard in Santa Monica.  

 

 

 

 

 
(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.  

 

 

 

 

 
(1925)#^^ - Aerial view of the Santa Monica High School campus showing the athletic field and Open Air Memorial Theater (later renamed the Memorial Greek Amphitheatre) bordered by 4th Street at bottom and Pico Boulevard at right.  

 

Historical Notes

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.*^

 

 

Ocean Park

 
(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 bathouse and two piers are seen in the background.  

 

 

 

 
(1916)#^ – View of the beach at the entrance to Santa Monica Canyon. The Santa Monica bathouse 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.*^

 

Bel-Air Bay Club

 
(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.*^

 

 

 
(1927)#^^ – People overlooking the Santa Monica Bay and beach from the site of the upper clubhouse of the Bel-Air Bay Club site,  with the lower clubhouse building under construction in the foreground on the beach in Pacific Palisades.  Automobiles can be seen along the Beach Road (later the Roosevelt Highway and Pacific Coast Highway), and Santa Monica and the Santa Monica Pier are visible in the distance.  

 

 

 

 
(1930s)** – View looking north on Pacific Coast Highway showing the two facilities of the Bel-Air Bay Club.  One facility is on the left along the beach and the other is the Spanish Colonial Revival-style building on the hillside at upper-right.  Also seen in the distance, on top of the hill, is the famed Bernheimer Japanese Gardens.  

 

Historical Notes

Bel-Air Bay Club consists of two facilities separated by the 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.

 

 

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

 

Historical Notes

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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(ca. 1918)#^^ - Image of a food stand on the beach, with vendors behind counter in Pacific Palisades. The cart may say "White House" above the awning (the sign is partially obscured). The cart has signs including "Stop, Let's Eat Hot Dog & Liberty Sandwiches" and "Hot coffee, Ice Cream by the pint or quart, Eskimo Pies, Cigars, Cones... Drinks."  

 

 

 

 
(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 of 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.  

 

Historical Notes

Santa Monica has had several piers over the years; however, the current Santa Monica Pier is actually two adjoining piers that long had separate owners. The long, narrow Municipal Pier opened September 9, 1909, primarily to carry sewer pipes beyond the breakers, and had no amenities. The short, wide adjoining Pleasure Pier to the south, a.k.a. Newcomb Pier, was built in 1916 by Charles I. D. Looff and his son Arthur, amusement park pioneers. Attractions on the Pleasure Pier eventually included the Santa Monica Looff Hippodrome building (which now houses the current carousel and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places), the Blue Streak Racer wooden roller coaster (which was purchased from the defunct Wonderland amusement park in San Diego), the Whip, merry-go-rounds, Wurlitzer organs, and a funhouse.*^

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1924)* - Closer view of the combined Municipal Pier and Loof Pleasure Pier showing 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. +^

 

 

* * * * *

 

 

 

 
(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.*^*^*

 

 

Pacific Electric Stations

   
(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. 1917)+^^ – View showing the Pacific Electric Railway Ocean Avenue depot in the foreground, with a streetcar marked "Venice" and the Looff Pleasure Pier, Santa Monica Municipal Pier and beach in distance. The Looff Hippodrome (with "Welcome" sign), "Bowling and Billiards" building, the Blue Streak Racer roller coaster, and Aeroscope rides are visible on the pleasure pier.  

 

 

 

 

 
(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.**#*

 

* * * * *

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1924)** - 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).  

 

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1934)#^^ - Image of a crowd amid beach umbrellas watching two pugilists boxing in an outdoor boxing ring on the beach in front of the Santa Monica Athletic Club in Santa Monica, California. The Santa Monica Pleasure Pier with the La Monica Ballroom and Municipal Pier are in the background.  

 

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.*^*^*

 

* * * * *

 

 

 


 
(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.
 

 

 

 

 
(1927)#^^ - Image of a crowd of people on the Ocean Front Walk next to the Ocean Park Pier in Santa Monica, California. There is a banner in the foreground for "Ocean Park Doc Carvers Diving Horses- Free staritng June 26" and the marquee on the Rosemary Theater at left reads "Now playing Lon Chaney & Preview Tonite" with a poster for the movie "The Unknown." Additional signs include "Dancing", "Ocean Park Pier Dome Theatre", and "Egyptian Ball Room."  

 

 

 

   
  (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. 1930s)#+# – Aerial view showing the pleasure piers of Venice and Santa Monica.  From bottom to top:  Sunset Pier, Venice Pier, Ocean Park Pier, Crystal Pier, Santa Monica Pier…all that remains are the rocks of the breakwater behind the Venice Pier and the Santa Monica Pier.  Photo taken by Spence Air Photos  

 

Historical Notes

Spence Air Photos was a one-man company ~ photographer, "Robert Earl Spence". He began shooting aerials in 1918. In the 1920s he had numerous clients hiring him to shoot homes and businesses. Spence would shoot images at an angle, not straight down, showing many additional building details. Spence was not a pilot, he hired an airplane pilot to fly him overhead while he leaned out from the cockpit with a bulky camera to get angled shots of the landscape. His method captured the details of the homes and their surroundings all the way to the horizon. He continued to photograph homes for 50 years.

In 1971, Spence retired and donated his collection of 110,000 negatives to the University of California Geography Department. He passed away in 1974.****^

At UCLA, the Spence Collection is part of The Benjamin and Gladys Thomas Air Photo Archives.

 

 

 
(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.

 

 

 

 

* * * * *

 

 

 

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

^^The California History Room, California State Library

^*LMU Digital Collection: Arcadia Hotel

#* LA Times: Marquez Family

#^ Santa Monica Public Library Image Archive

+# Santa Monica Mirror: Statue of Santa Monica

+^ Santa Monica Landmarks: Looff Hippodrome

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

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

+++Vanderbilt Cup Races

**^Noirish Los Angeles - forum.skyscraperpage.com; Deauville Club; Palisades Park Cannon

^^*Deviantart-Studio5: Santa Monica Beach

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

^^+Stanford University Revs Digital Library

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

*#*KCET: A Historical Look at SoCal's Beaches

*#^Santa Monica Public Library

^#*Santa Monica History Museum

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

^##The Malibu Times: Historic Las Flores Canyon

+##Facebook.com: Vintage Los Angeles

##+Hagley Digital Archives

*#*KCET: A Historical Look at SoCal's Beaches; Arch Rock and Castle Rocks; When L.A.'s Most Famous Streets Were Dirt Roads

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

#**MTA Transportation and Research Library Archives

#^^Huntington Digital Library Archive

#++Bel-Air Bay Club History

#*^Electric Railway History: Venice Trams

#^#Calisphere Digital Archive

#+#Facebook.com: Photos of Los Angeles

^^^California State Library Image Archive

^++Santa Monica Pier HIstory

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

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

^*^*UCLA Digital Collection

*^*^Santa Monica Beach Stories

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

*^^*Discoverlosangeles.com: Santa Monica

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

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

^***Southern California Beaches: Santa Monica Beach

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

*#**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

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

*^*#Santa Monica Municipal Airport

^*^#SantaMonicablog.com

*^^#LAistory: The Santa Monica Pier

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

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

#*#*Flickr.com: Michael Ryerson

#^#*Denver Public Library Image Archive

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

#^*^Santa Monica Landmark Properties

#*^^Pinterest.com: California

#*^#Google Street Views

#^^*Pinterest.com: Old Hollywood

#^#^Paslisades Park: smgov.net

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

##^^MartinTurnbull.com: Gables Beach Club

****^Facebook.com: West San Fernando Valley Then And Now

^*^*^Wehadfacesthen.tumblr.com

*^*^*SantaMonicaPier.com

*#*#*Venice Miniature Railroad - Jeffrey Stanton

*^ Wikipedia: California State Route 1; History of Santa Monica; Alphonzo Bell; Venice; California Incline; Route 66; Third Street Pomenade; Santa Monica Pier; Casa del Mar Hotel; Pacific Palisades - Castellammare; Parkhurst Building; Venice Canal HIstoric District; Annenberg Community Beach House; Santa Monica High School; Jack Dempsey; Muscle Beach; Wilshire Boulevard

 

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