Muscle Beach and Boats Self-Guided Tour
eRide to Venice’s eclectic beach town and Los Angeles’ world class harbour, Marina Del Rey Ride along the beach to Marina Del Rey, a premier waterfront. Visit shops and outdoor dining with views of the harbor and boats. 10 miles and approximately 45 minutes in distance (20 miles round trip and 1.5 hours).
Known for its bohemian spirit, Venice is a buzzing beach town with upscale commercial and residential pockets. Free-spirited Venice Boardwalk is the site of funky shops, street performers and colorful murals. Abbot Kinney Boulevard features foodie hot spots, stylish boutiques and coffee bars. A picturesque enclave of canals is surrounded by modernist homes.
Venice Beach, which receives millions of visitors a year, has been labeled as “a cultural hub known for its eccentricities” as well as a “global tourist destination”. It includes the promenade that runs parallel to the beach (also the “Ocean Front Walk” or just “the boardwalk”), Muscle Beach, and the Venice Beach Recreation Center with handball courts, paddle tennis courts, a Skate Dancing plaza, and numerous beach volleyball courts. It also includes a bike trail and many businesses on Ocean Front Walk.
The basketball courts in Venice are renowned across the country for their high level of streetball; numerous professional basketball players developed their games or have been recruited on these courts. Venice Beach will host skateboarding and 3×3 basketball during the 2028 Summer Olympics.
HISTORY OF VENICE BEACH
Venice, originally called “Venice of America”, was founded by wealthy developer Abbot Kinney in 1905 as a beach resort town, 14 miles (23 km) west of Los Angeles. He and his partner Francis Ryan had bought two miles (3.24 km) of oceanfront property south of Santa Monica in 1891. They built a resort town on the north end of the property, called Ocean Park, which was soon annexed to Santa Monica. After Ryan died, Kinney and his new partners continued building south of Navy Street. After the partnership dissolved in 1904, Kinney, who had won the marshy land on the south end of the property in a coin flip with his former partners, began to build a seaside resort like the namesake Italian city.
When Venice of America opened on July 4, 1905, Kinney had dug several miles of canals to drain the marshes for his residential area, built a 1,200-foot (370 m)-long pleasure pier with an auditorium, ship restaurant, and dance hall, constructed a hot salt-water plunge, and built a block-long arcaded business street with Venetian architecture. Kinney hired artist Felix Peano to design the columns of the buildings. Included in the capitals are several faces, modeled after Kinney himself and a local girl named Nettie Bouck.
Tourists, mostly arriving on the “Red Cars” of the Pacific Electric Railway from Los Angeles and Santa Monica, then rode the Venice Miniature Railway and gondolas to tour the town. The biggest attraction was Venice’s mile-long gently sloping beach. Cottages and housekeeping tents were available for rent. The population (3,119 residents in 1910) soon exceeded 10,000; the town drew 50,000 to 150,000 tourists on weekends.
MARINA DEL REY
Marina del Rey is an unincorporated seaside community in Los Angeles County, California, with an eponymous harbor that is a major boating and water recreation destination of the greater Los Angeles area. The port is North America’s largest man-made small-craft harbor and is home to approximately 5,000 boats. The area is a popular tourism destination for both land and water activities such as paddle board and kayak rentals, dining cruises, and yacht charters. Land activities include bicycling on several bicycle paths, walking paths along the waterfront, and birdwatching (birding). Wildlife watching opportunities include California sea lions and harbor seals. Dolphins and whales occasionally visit the deeper waters of harbor. This Westside locale is approximately 4 miles (6.4 km) south of Santa Monica, and 4 miles (6.4 km) north of Los Angeles International Airport. The harbor is owned by Los Angeles County and managed by the Department of Beaches and Harbors (DBH). The Los Angeles Times said in a 1997 editorial that the harbor is “perhaps the county’s most valuable resource”. The population was 8,866 at the 2010 census. For statistical purposes, the United States Census Bureau has defined Marina del Rey as a census-designated place (CDP). The census definition of the area may not precisely correspond to local understanding of the area with the same name.
HISTORY OF MARINA DEL REY
Prior to its development as a small craft harbor, the land occupied by Marina del Rey was a salt marsh fed by fresh water from Ballona Creek, frequented by duck hunters, including their hunting club, as well as by birdwatchers of the Los Angeles Audubon Society and the southern chapter of the Cooper Ornithological Club. Burton W. Chace, a former councilman of the City of Long Beach, who later became a member of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, referred to the area as mud flats, though today the area would more properly be referred to as an estuary and wetland. In the mid-19th century, Moye C. Wicks thought of turning this estuary and wetland of Playa del Rey into a commercial port. He formed the Ballona Development Company in 1888 to develop the area, but three years later the company went bankrupt. Port Ballona made by Louis Mesmer and Moye Wicks was then sold to Moses Sherman. Sherman purchased 1,000 acres (400 ha) of land around the Ballona lagoon and Port Ballona in 1902 under the name the Beach Land Company. Sherman and Clark renamed the land “Del Rey”. Port Ballona was then renamed Playa Del Rey. The port was serviced by the California Central Railway opened in September 1887, this line later became the Santa Fe Railway, that later became the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railroad. The rail line ran from the port to Redondo junction. A street car tram line was made to the Port by the Redondo and Hermosa Beach Railroad company, that had incorporated on February 21, 1901. This company was part of the Los Angeles Pacific Railroad owned by Sherman. The tram line opened December 1902 departed downtown at 4th & Broadway. In 1916, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers revisited the idea of a commercial harbor, but declared it economically impractical. In 1936 the U.S. Congress ordered a re-evaluation of that determination, and the Army Corps of Engineers returned with a more favorable determination; however, the Marina del Rey harbor concept lost out to San Pedro as a commercial harbor and development funding went to the Port of Los Angeles instead.
In 1953, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors authorized a $2 million loan to fund construction of the marina. Since the loan only covered about half the cost, the U.S. Congress passed and President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed Public Law 780 making construction possible. Ground breaking began shortly after, during the early years of the of the John F. Kennedy administration. With construction almost complete, the marina was put in danger in 1962–1963 due to a winter storm. The storm caused millions of dollars in damage to both the marina and the few small boats anchored there. A plan was put into effect to build a breakwater at the mouth of the marina, and the L.A. County Board of Supervisors appropriated $2.1 million to build it. On April 10, 1965, Marina del Rey was formally dedicated. The total cost of the marina was $36.25 million for land, construction, and initial operation.
Los Angeles County then solicited bids for the harbor and port development, selling 60 year leaseholds to willing developers. Real estate developer Abraham M. Lurie was the single largest leaseholder responsible for the building of three hotels, two apartment complexes, 1,000 boat slips, and several shopping centers, offices, restaurants; his holdings also included the last undeveloped piece of waterfront land in Marina del Rey. He eventually ran into cash flow problems and sold a 49.9% interest to Saudi Arabian Sheik Abdul Aziz al Ibrahim, a brother of Waleed bin Ibrahim Al Ibrahim and a brother-in-law of King Fahd; the investment soon turned sour and following a protracted and aggressive lawsuit, in 1993 Lurie lost his entire interest in the development to Abdul Aziz.