Venice, Southern California’s living carnival, is unique both in cultural diversity and geography. Just like its Italian counterpart, Venice is well known for the portion of its residential homes in the canal area.
The long history of “weird” continues to thrive in a Venice that frequently struggles with its own identity as more people flock to join its long history as an enclave to writers, artists, and musicians.
Modern Venice began, however, in the early 1900s as the brainchild of a tobacco magnate named Abbott Kinney when he envisioned a grand beach resort just west of Los Angeles that would be crafted as an homage to its Italian namesake. The canals were dug, the natural marshes drained, and the pier was built.
From its inception, Venice has been a strong draw from tourists for its beaches and the amusements built along the pier that at one point or another have included roller coasters, aerial rides, aviation stunts, bars, and restaurants drew people in the 100,000s each year as early as the 1920s.
By this time, infrastructure needs and fractious politics resulted in the annexation of Venice by Los Angeles. Unfortunately, the fallout from the Great Depression, differences in vision, and a lack of stewardship by city hall in Los Angeles resulted in a neglected Venice.
As neglect beget entropy, Venice property values sunk and the area became known as the Slum by the Sea. But the spirit of Venice was not to be destroyed and an influx of beat poets, European Immigrants fleeing the NAZI’s, and a general refusal to die out quietly sustained a cultural resurgence of the neighborhood throughout the later half of the 20th century. The area would become a strong driver of modern American folklore as the home to bands like The Doors, the birthplace of skateboarding, the world center of weight-lifting, the explosion of street basketball, and a variety of counterculture movements whose effect on the rest of the country continues today.
Venice has one of the best farmers’ markets in Los Angeles, open from 7-11 AM each Friday at the intersection of Venice Blvd. and Venice Way.