Although Santa Monica and Ocean Park, were both settled in the early 1870’s, Ocean Park’s history is somewhat independent from the rest of Santa Monica. Ocean Park was initially oriented towards the beach, when Abott Kinney bought a sandy strip of land in Santa Monica’s southwestern edge, and in 1891, started the Ocean Park Development Company. The area sprang to life when he began building roads, homes, parks, and a series of piers and other tourist attractions. After 1904, Kinney focused his attention to his “Venice of America” project (also called Ocean Park at the time) located south of the Santa Monica city boundary, which he later shortened to “Venice”.
Thus, the history of Venice and Ocean Park are intertwined. From 1905 to 1925, Ocean Park was developed by people such as Fraser, Merritt Jones, Hart, Hollister and Wadsworth. Large blocks of land owned by families like the Lucas’ and Vawters, were subdivided, with construction centered on streets nearest to the ocean, and the 4th Street hill marking the inland boundary. During this time, much of the housing was designed to be impermanent. A long period of decline was halted briefly from 1958 to 1967, by Pacific Ocean Park (POP), and in 1964, a large section of the ocean front area was razed as part of the Ocean Park Redevelopment Project.
Nowadays, Ocean Park is an effervescent family oriented area in the heart of Santa Monica, and one of the city’s oldest neighborhoods, while Venice is its own unique enclave within the city of Los Angeles.
Who then, was this Abbot Kinney?
Well, here are more of the specifics in how it all began…
Abbot Kinney (1850 in New Brunswick, New Jersey – 1920 in Santa Monica, California) was a developer and conservationist and is best known for his “Venice of America” development in Los Angeles. Eventually a master of many trades, from his early roots in New Jersey, he first travelled to Washington DC where he engaged in politics. By 16, Kinney went to Europe to study, becoming fluent in six languages, during which time he visited the Venice Canals. After a brief stint in the Maryland National Guard followed by working with the U.S. Geological Survey mapping the Sioux reservations of the Dakotas, he traveled with the survey team to Yosemite Valley. In 1874, Kinney joined his brother in New York to help run The Kinney Brothers Tobacco Company, taking an interest in imported tobaccos which lead him to Egypt and Ottoman Macedonia. Following this, Kinney took an extended vacation, arriving in San Francisco in January 1880. As a result of snowy weather he took a side trip to to the Sierra Madre Villa Hotel, a Southern California health resort, due to his asthma, and awoke in the morning to find himself symptom free. This motivated him to purchase 550 acres nearby, which he named “Kinneloa”. Kinney’s first wife Margaret did not like it there in the summer months, so in 1886 they built a summer home in Santa Monica.
Kinney formed the Santa Monica Improvement Company in 1887 and built a lawn tennis club while purchasing 247 acres of land on the bluffs north of Santa Monica Canyon. The plan was to develop it as “Santa Monica Heights”, but he was forced to abandon the project due to economic hardship, and turned instead to the coastal area south of Santa Monica. In 1887, he established the nation’s first forestry station in Rustic Canyon on 6 acres of land donated by Santa Monica co-founder John P. Jones and Arcadia Bandini de Stearns Baker. One of the station’s projects was to study eucalyptus trees. In 1891, Kinney and his partner, Francis Ryan, bought a controlling interest in Pacific Ocean Casino and a tract of land 1.5 miles long and 1,000 feet wide along the Santa Monica beach, constructing a pier, golf course, horse-racing track, boardwalk and other resort amenities, while creating the Ocean Park Development Company. Kinney even convinced the Santa Fe Railroad to extend its Inglewood line north to his resort, giving them 12 acres of land. In 1893 Kinney and Ryan began selling beach lots,
25 x 100 feet for $100, with unsold lots being used as campsites for summer rental and the YMCA founded a summer camp on 5 acres there near Hill street. Once Ryan died in 1898, Thomas Dudley, his widow’s new husband, sold their half interest to a group of men Kinney was not fond of. After winning a flip of a coin, he took the marshy southern half to build his “Venice of America”.
Venice recreation area opened on July 4, 1905 and quickly gained notoriety as the “Coney Island of the Pacific”. By January 1906, an area designed after the spectacular amusement thoroughfares of the 19th and 20th century expositions, was built along the edge of the Grand Lagoon, featuring foreign exhibits, amusements, and freak shows. Trolley service was available from Downtown Los Angeles and nearby Santa Monica. Visitors were dazzled by the system of canals complete with gondolas and gondoliers brought in from Venice, Italy. There were ornate Venetian-style businesses and a full-sized amusement pier. Around the entire park, a miniature steam railroad ran on a 21⁄2-mile track, considered the best collection of amusement devices on the Pacific Coast. Eventually, Kinney gained control of city politics and had the name changed from “Ocean Park” to “Venice” in 1911. Kinney was also allowed to build a 60-foot breakwater to protect his facilities from storm tides. His creative spirit continued on to his children and the next generation. Though most of his work has been demolished, some of his buildings and Venetian-style arches remain, along with his breakwater.
Venice became part of the city of Los Angeles in October 1925. The bulk of the canals were paved over in 1929 and a large section of the ocean front area was razed as part of the Ocean Park Redevelopment Project of 1964. The remaining canal district was extensively renovated in 1992. The canals have since become an expensive residential section and many large, modern houses have been built. The Venice Canal Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982, and as a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument.
So, again, not to be confused, the original Ocean Park area became Venice, which includes Venice Beach, and is situated in the City of Los Angeles, while the current Ocean Park neighborhood is an area in the city of Santa Monica. And where exactly is this sought-after, family oriented community?
Exotic, diverse, funky, happening, Ocean Park is located in the southwest corner of Santa Monica, from the beach to Lincoln Boulevard and between Pico Boulevard and the southern city limits. A gully, which separates it at the north, today is the Santa Monica Freeway. Also known as SOOP, for South Of Ocean Park, there is an eclectic mix of properties. Along the beach you see lots of apartments and mini-high rises as well as some large homes. The houses inland tend to be older and are an interesting mix of architectural styles from Victorians to Craftsmen to to a few Chateaus. There are no cliffs here separating the city from the beach, so the homes in Ocean Park have the feel of a beach town. Near the ocean, the streets are narrow creating a wonderful walking experience. Ocean Park boasts an authentic local vibe; a 60’s feel with an artsy twist, a bunch of talked-about restaurants and health-conscious eateries, and distinctive boutiques and shops, especially on Main Street. Main Street is the heart of the neighborhood in terms of foot traffic, from hipsters to celebrities and committed beach bums. It is seemingly an upscale version of its southern sister, Venice Beach, and hosts a popular weekly farmer’s market on Sundays. SMASH, an alternative school, and John Muir elementary schools are located in the neighborhood, as well as Olympic High, an alternative high school, and Santa Monica High School, while Penmar Golf Course, Clover and Virginia Avenue Parks, Santa Monica Airport and Santa Monica College are nearby. There is even an Ocean Park branch of the library and an active neighborhood association known as Ocean Park Association.
Misofishy 1928 Lincoln Boulevard
Poom Thai Cuisine 2204 Lincoln Boulevard
El Texate 316 Pico Boulevard
Italiantoursusa 533 Ashland Avenue
212 Pier 212 Pier Avenue
Cafe K 2209 Main Street
Novel Cafe 2507 Main Street
The Galley 2442 Main Street
The Victorian 2640 Main Street
World Cafe 2820 Main Street
Kathmandu Boutique 1844 Lincoln Blvd
Betsy & Tracy 2665 Main Street
Baci 2724 Main Street
The Artist’s Web 2806 Main Street
Muji 2936 Main Street
Suji 2525 Main Street Suite 103
Gioia 2721 Main Street
Max Studio 2712 Main Street
Free People 2925 Main Street
Bryn Walker 2921 Main Street
Area: 0.738 square miles
33,066 people per square mile
11,285 people per square mile
Median household income in 2015:
Median rent in in 2015:
Male vs Females
Average estimated value of detached houses in 2015 (33.5% of all units):
Most popular occupations of males: service occupations (16.4%); management occupations (except farmers) (15.6%); arts, design, entertainment, sports, and media occupations (13.1%); sales and office occupations (12.5%); business and financial operations occupations (10.3%); education, training, and library occupations (6.6%); production occupations (5.0%)
Most popular occupations of females: arts, design, entertainment, sports, and media occupations (25.8%); sales and office occupations (14.7%); management occupations (except farmers) (10.4%); business and financial operations occupations (9.5%); education, training, and library occupations (9.0%); healthcare practitioners and technical occupations (8.9%); service occupations (7.3%)
Highways in this neighborhood: Lincoln Blvd (State Rte 1).
Roads and streets: Main St; Neilson Way; 7th St; 3rd St; 6th St; Ocean Park Blvd; Ashland Ave; Ocean Front (The Promenade); Bay St; Barnard Way; Pacific St; Marine St; Strand St; 2nd St; Hill St; 5th St; Pier Ave; Hollister Ave; Highland Ave; 4th St (4th Ave); 4th St; Raymond Ave; Bicknell Ave; Ocean Ave (Ocean Way); Ozone Ave; Navy St; Grant St; Beverly Ave; Kensington Rd; Ocean Front Walk (The Promenade); Pine St; Copeland Ct; Cedar St; Fraser Ave; Hart Ave; Wadsworth Ave; Longfellow St; Sea Colony Dr; Pico Pl; N Ocean Ave; Beach St; Mills St; Norman Pl; Kinney St; Bentley Ct; Ruskin St; Pearl St; Goldsmith St; Maple St.
So you think you may want to live in this festive neighborhood?
To arrange for a private tour of the Ocean Park community or to view any of the properties currently for sale, call Mark Bolender, RE/MAX 310-857-4946 or 661-714-0510
BRE License Number 01065007