Our pier has had several incarnations but the current structure, built in 1965, was partially destroyed by the storms of 1983 and subsequently closed. A hard working group of locals and local pols dedicated themselves, their energy and resources, to retro-fitting and reopening the Pier. In October of 1997, she was reopened amid festivity and fanfare. Today, the Venice Fishing Pier is an important local and tourist attraction. It remains non-commercial and is much frequented, revered and respected as a local and tourist attraction.
Abbot Kinney’s Windward Avenue Pier about 1910.
Despite the fact that the existing Venice Fishing Pier is a relatively recent construction, there were many early piers (now long gone) in the vicinity. Around 1895, the Santa Fe Railroad is said to have built a 500 foot iron pipe pier at the western end of Hill Street in Ocean Park, a pier that was so disappointing to Abbott Kinney, it apparently spurred his building of a 1250 foot pier at Pier Avenue three years later. And Mr. Kinney, who most of us think of solely as the founder of Venice of America and the creator of the Venice Canals, then became the builder of the first pier in Venice, the Windward Avenue Pier. While it was destroyed by storms even as it was being built in 1905, Kinney persevered and the structure was ready for its grand opening on July 4th of that year.
Kinney’s Windward pier had a variety of attractions including an auditorium, an aquarium, a dance hall, a zoo, an ostrich farm, and an observation tower, as well as commercial stalls for fresh fish and handicrafts. It was a popular place until, in December of 1920, a fire decimated most of the structure. It was rebuilt but was now less a civic attraction and considerably more commercial. The pier, with ever changing attractions, was maintained in one form or another until 1946 when it was closed for what seem to have been safety reasons. It then burned in 1947 while in the process of being dismantled, and by the early 1950s, all visible remains were removed from the beach.
Other piers had been built in the area by that time. The Million Dollar Pier, The Ocean Park Pickering Pleasure Pier, the Sunset Pier, the Lick Pier at Navy, all had their day in the sun but were gone by the 1950s. Only the Ocean Park Pier, which was built on the site of the Million Dollar Pier and had been incorporated into Pacific Ocean Park (aka: POP), lasted into to the 1960s but it too finally closed in 1967, falling victim to its waning popularity and, rather predictably, another fire. This left only the Santa Monica Pier, several miles to the north, in operation
The Venice Fishing Pier in 2017
It is the Venice Pier Project’s intention to bring the history of the current Venice Fishing Pier up to date in the very near future. There is not much on line or on internet-accessible archives about the decision to build a new pier at the end of Washington Blvd. We know that the construction was started in 1963 and completed in 1965 but are lacking details on the essentials. We are investigating these details and will add them when we can verify the facts.
We do know the following:
1965: The Venice Fishing Pier opened. Ta da!
1986: Closed (after “chunks of concrete from the underside of the pier were said to have fallen near beachgoers) and scheduled for demolition.
1997: Re-opened by public demand (the efforts of a group called “Pier Pressure” and Councilwoman Ruth Galanter) after extensive retrofitting.
2005: Damaged by storms and its restrooms swept away, it was again closed to the public.
2006: After repairs, it re-opened.
2017: Anniversary festivities for the Pier’s 20 year re-opening were held on the pier. Robert Davis (RAP, Venice Beach Superintendent) announced that the City Department of Public Works was preparing an assessment of the current condition of the Pier.
2018: June. A fire started under the pier and caused damage to the structure nearest the shore.
The City Council approved $5 million for retrofitting and additional $ for fire related damage.
Venice California ‘Coney Island of the Pacific’ by Jeffrey Staunton.
Los Angeles Daily News, June 27th, 2018. “LA OKs $5 million…”
LA Times, February 16, 2006, “Venice Pier’s Future…”