City Planners, Not Fires, Killed the Piers

Re: “Life and Death of the Venice Piers,” Venice Stories, May 5

The Venice Stories photo montage depicting the life and death of Venice’s amusement piers gives the false impression that the piers are gone because they burned down. Each earlier pier that burned from 1911 to 1924 was rebuilt after it burned.

When Venice was annexed by the city of Los Angeles in 1925, city officials stopped the construction of an amusement pier at what was then Leona Street and vowed that Venice’s piers would be soon demolished. Legally they had to wait for the leases to expire.

The three block-wide Venice Amusement Pier at Windward Avenue was ordered closed in April 1946 and the movable rides were sold. It bankrupted the Kinney Company. The picture shown for 1947 is during demolition, not a burned out pier.

In the case of Pacific Ocean Park, which was part in Venice but mostly in Santa Monica, the city of Santa Monica forced them into bankruptcy over back taxes in September 1967. The attractions were auctioned the following year. Santa Monica, which was redeveloping nearby Ocean Park, didn’t want an amusement pier nearby and made it difficult to get to the pier’s parking lot. Homeless people moved into the abandoned park and the first major fire occurred in 1970. By 1974, when the pier was finally demolished, there had been as many as 50 arson fires.

When I published my book “Venice California – Coney Island of the Pacific” in 2005, I purposely didn’t include the many fire pictures of Pacific Ocean Park because most people look at the book’s 367 photos from the back toward the front and would have concluded the piers were gone because they burned down.

Since stores in Venice don’t want to sell the self-published book, the fact that Venice was one of the largest amusement resorts in the nation is a well-kept secret. If people don’t know the piers existed, they won’t wonder why they can’t be rebuilt.

Jeffrey Stanton, Venice
Use City Property for Housing

I appreciate the work L.A. Councilman Mike Bonin is doing to help the homeless not only in his own district but in the whole of the city of Los Angeles. He deserves credit for standing tall on this issue.

As a resident of Venice I would stand behind using city-owned lots to build more housing.

Sheila Goldberg, Venice


Re: Westchester is now up Bowlmor’s Alley,” News, May 26

Some people like bowling in places that don’t look rapey. Get over yourselves and go try it before crapping on it.

The Dude