Tobacco millionaire Abbot Kinney had a grandiose vision when he looked out at the marshland he had purchased on the southern Californian coast.
He called it “Venice in America,” and set to work in 1905 to create a luxurious seaside resort that mirrored the famous gondola-navigated canals of Venice, Italy. Its purpose was twofold: to recreate the famous and unique Italian city, and to add his own American resort flair to the locale.
For a while, his man-made canals were all the rage, with serene flower-lined shores and gondolas sailing under graceful, beautifully lit bridges–but alas, it wasn’t meant to last, and the spell was broken by the sudden influx of automobiles.
Considered outdated and taking up precious road space, all but a few blocks of the canals were filled in and the remainder subsequently fell into disrepair. Eventually, they became perennial hotbeds for debate and discussion of much-needed urban renewal plans.
Finally, after more than 40 years of being bogged down by political red tape, unsavory residents, and environmental concerns, the canals were finally resurrected to their previous quiet decadence, and are now once again a haven for those who can afford to live there.
The canals provide a pleasant space, perfect for serene walks through dense, multi-layered landscapes, unusual and sometimes funky architecture, and during the right time of year, gaggles of baby ducks dutifully following their mothers through the shallow water of “The Other Venice.”
Know Before You Go
From the Venice Fishing Pier, walk north on Speedway Street and turn right on 27th Avenue. At the end of the block, carefully jaywalk across Pacific Avenue. Follow the path on the other side of the street past the very large, very modern, high tech house with big windows for a few yards until you reach the first of six canals.