Venice History Book: History of Venice of America
Venice, CA & Abbot Kinney

Venice History  Book by Dr. Arnold SpringerVenice California has a colorful history.  Its founder, Abbot Kinney, named it Venice of America in 1907 because the canals he built to drain part of the Ballona wetlands (on which he built his real estate project) reminded him of Venice Italy whose urbane persona he wanted to evoke.  Originally called Ocean Park, the canals were dug out of the northern section of the Ballona wetlands and marsh between 1904 and 1905.  Kinney purchased gondolas and hired Italian gondoliers to highlight his beach resort as a tourist attraction.  He also built a pier for popular amusements, a bathhouse for salt water bathing, and organized and hosted a celebrated Chautauqua (called the Venice Assembly) featuring high brow but  at the same time popular lectures and exhibits.

 The Venice of America canals (Grand, Lion, Cabrillo, Venus, Coral,  Aldebaran, and Altair)  were filled with earth and became streets in 1929-30, after the voters of a heretofore independent City of Venice voted to self destruct and consolidated politically with Los Angeles City in 1925.  The Venice canals which exist today and run perpendicular to the Pacific Ocean and bear the names Linnie, Carroll, Howland, and Sherman were not built by Kinney but by the Short Line Beach Company between 1905 & 1907.

Soon after Venetian voters decided to commit political ‘hari-kari’ they came to regret it. Venice amusements were closed down, prohibition was enforced, oil was discovered and the beach adjacent areas were messed  with oil.  Always a vibrant and exciting political community, oppositional politics in Venice picked up after consolidation with
Los Angeles, and the community has been known for its strident mass politics ever since. Now often called Venice Beach, Venice is a vibrant urban place  known for its bohemian and artistic communities.  

Venice artists such as Ed Moses, Ed Ruscha, Charles Arnoldi, and Robert Graham are internationally renowned.  Director/Actor /Artist Dennis Hopper resided in Venice for many years.  Musicians like The Doors and the Red Hot Chili Peppers and many other rock bands got their start in Venice.  Venice  of today is know for its surfing culture and as the birthplace of skateboarding which was celebrated in the documentaries “Dogtown and Z-Boys” and “The Lords of Dogtown”.  Venice is today the largest tourist attraction in Southern California.

Vol. 1: History of the Venice Canals 1850 - 1939
Vol. 2: Annexation and Secession Movements 1919 - 1939

Book #1 of the Venice History Book series contains two volumes of chronologically organized vignettes culled from original sources and arranged topically  (canals, politics) and chronologically. Ten other such Books are in the works and will be published on this web site.  Taken en toto they provide materials which easily lend themselves to a topical and chronological narrative.  The overarching narrative treatment is left to the ingenuity  of the reader as historian, as writer of fiction, short stories or drama.  See links on the left to view pages from this book.  Researched, compiled and assembled by Dr. Arnold Springer, Ph.D. and Professor of History -Emeritus -at California State University, Long Beach.  Professor Springer has been a Venice resident and activist since 1962.