Early Views of Santa Monica

Historical Photos of Early Santa Monica
 
(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.

 

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(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.  

 

Historical Notes

The above photo was taken August 14th, 1918. The wing walker was the fabulous and seriously talented Babe Kalishek. The Curtiss JN is piloted by the early ace aviator Jim Hester.^x^

 

 

 
(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.  

 

 

Loof Pleasure Pier and Santa Monica Pier

 
(1917)#^^ - View showing the Santa Monica Municipal Pier at right and the Looff Pleasure Pier at left including the Looff Hippodrome (with "Welcome" sign) and Blue Streak roller coaster.  Automobiles are seen parked on along the pier as well as signs for "Fish market bait and tackle" and "Pure California orange juice." Palm trees and cannon and cannon balls can be seen in the foreground in Palisades Park.  

 

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 the Santa Monica Pier with parking lot in the foreground. The largest two structures are the wooden roller coaster and the Looff Hippodrome.  

 

 

 

 

 
(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. +^

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

Historical Notes

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

Historical Notes

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

 

 

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.**#*

 

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(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.*^*^*

 

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Venice Trams (Service between Venice and Santa Monica)

 
(1910s)^* – Postcard view of ‘Riding the Tram Cars’, Venice, Calif.  

 

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. The electric trams operated between 1916-1929. #*^

By the 1930s, the trams had 4 cylinder, Ford model A engines.

 

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1916)^x^ -  Electric tram ride on the Ocean Front with Ocean Front Toy Story in the background.  

 

Historical Notes

The conductor of this tram would switch end positions at Santa Monica to drive it back to Venice.  There was no feature that allowed for turnaround.  And there was also nothing to protect passengers from the hot sun overhead.

 

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1910s)^x^ – Postcard view showing one of the first generation electric trams that ran from Venice to Santa Monica. Photo courtesy of Sarah and John Schacht.  

 

 

 

 

 
(1920s)* - View showing a 2nd generation tram sitting on the Venice sidewalk/street, This open sided electric tram had an awning above and room for seating on all sides.  

 

 

 


 
(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.  

 

 

 

 

 
(1920s)#^ – View showing an electric tram heading north on Ocean Front Walk in front of Seaside Park (present day Crescent Bay Park).  

 

Historical Notes

Electric tram service on Ocean Front Walk between Venice and Ocean Park began operation in 1916.

By 1920 the trams were electric battery powered. They ran from Windward Ave. and the Venice Pier, to the Ocean Park Pier, and then to the Santa Monica Pier, and back.

In 1923, the Venice Tram Company was formed.

 

 

 

 

 
(1930s)** - Postcard of a tram running between Venice, Ocean Park, and Santa Monica. The Ocean Park Plunge can be seen in the background.  

 

Historical Notes

By the 1930s, the trams had 4 cylinder, Ford model A engines and canopy tops. There were also similar 4 cylinder, Chevy engines.

The seats faced toward the ocean or shops plus it had a back seat.

 

 

 

 

 
(1920s)* - Crowds of people and an electric tram 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.  

 

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(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."  

 

 

Piers of Santa Monica Bay

 
(1919)#^ – Aerial view looking south showing four Santa Monica Bay piers (bottom to top):  Santa Monica Pier, Crystal Pier, Ocean Park Pier and Venice Pier.  

 

 

 

   
  (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

^x^Facebook.com: Venice, Ca, Ocean Park, & Santa Monica in the 20th Century

**^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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