The Santa Monica Pier, a beloved Santa Monica landmark, is a place where people from all walks of life come together to enjoy the city’s natural beauty. It’s a popular destination for both residents and tourists, but many don’t know much about its history.
It has a long and interesting history, one that has seen many ups and downs. It has experienced structural issues, calls to knock it down, damage from Mother Nature, and tough times during the Great Depression and World Wars.
Today, it is an entertainment destination, full of shops, restaurants, entertainment, and a sea life aquarium operated by Heal the Bay. It also hosts a weekly outdoor concert series and features a variety of free events year-round.
Visitors can easily navigate the pier by foot, bicycle or car. Alternative travel options include taking the light-rail Expo Line from downtown Los Angeles or renting bike cruisers and riding the Marvin Braude Coastal Bike Trail, known as The Strand, which stretches about 22 miles along the oceanfront from Santa Monica south to Torrance.
A Little-Known Historical Fact
The Santa Monica Pier almost lost its existence in 1973 when the city of Santa Monica voted to demolish it in favor of a resort hotel and man-made island on the bay. The city had always been pro-development, but the decision to destroy the pier sent shockwaves through the community and galvanized locals into fighting against development plans.
This was the beginning of a movement towards historic preservation that continues to this day.
There are a number of pier attractions to visit, including the original carousel hippodrome from the 1920s, the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium, shops and entertainers, a video arcade, trapeze school, pubs, and restaurants. Some of these places can get crowded, but it’s well worth the visit.
Its history is fascinating, and it is a must-see when visiting the Santa Monica area. To learn more about the pier, check out Secret Stories, a new app that has interactive games and stories from the pier’s past.
In 1909, Charles Looff, an amusement entrepreneur who built Coney Island’s first carousel, began construction of the Santa Monica Pier in what is now Downtown Santa Monica. It featured a monumental Hippodrome building that housed vintage merry-go-rounds, Wurlitzer organs, a Blue Streak Racer roller coaster and other thrill rides.
The pier was a huge success in the 1920s and was a popular attraction for locals as well as tourists. Its renowned La Monica Ballroom hosted many of the first national radio and television broadcasts.
There were numerous improvements made to the pier in the years that followed. A breakwater was built so boats could be moored safely and to protect the pier from the harsh weather conditions of Southern California. However, with the opening of Marina del Rey in 1965, boating activities stopped at the pier.
The pier is still a popular destination for anglers and people who want to get some fresh air in the summer months, and it is a popular place for tourists to walk and sit. It is also a great place to watch the sunset, which can be breathtaking if you’re lucky enough to be there in the right season.