Paul Tanck moved to Venice in 1974. He was attracted by the vibes that reminded him of the East Village in New York City and parts of North Beach in San Francisco. He quickly realized that there was a history to be reckoned with and started clipping articles on anything about Venice.

Several years ago, Paul came across an article in the Los Angeles Times about the “Muffler Man” guy and thought it interesting that the prototype had been made in Venice. One thing led to another and the end result was that he became a contributor to my monthly on-line Venice newsletter, the Venice Vanguard, with his “Venice Firsts” column.

There have been numerous times that I’ve had to remind Paul that he goes off on tangents and that his articles, although quite informative, are way too long. However, I’ve come to realize that he just can’t help himself.

“Venice isn’t in its own vacuum,” Paul says. He mentions his article about the first drive-in baseball park.

“Back then, cars were a novelty, so I did a little history of the automobile.” Then, he added the locations of the first street light and first paved road etc., etc. “All this was to give a background to show how it relates,” he says. “How Venice relates to the rest of the world.”

Recently, Paul was asked to give an oral presentation to the Venice Walkstreets Association on the history of their neighborhood. The presentation was titled “Venice Gateway Tract: The Early History of the Venice Walkstreets.” That’s the neighborhood bounded by Electric Avenue to the west, Palms Boulevard to the north, Lincoln Boulevard to the east, and Venezia Avenue or Venice Boulevard to the south. It contains Nowita Place, Marco Place, Amoroso Place and Crescent Place, along with Superba and Shell Avenues, and made up primarily of 620 single-family homes.

When Paul was originally approached, he, like every one else, didn’t know a thing about this section of Venice, but its history ñ or maybe lack of — had always intrigued him. He asked some friends and some Venice history experts for help. They offered some clues, so he took it from there, dug in and went exploring.

The following is a very, very edited version of his presentation. The complete version can be found on his Web site,