Learn about the history of Venice with Venice Heritage Museum!

Thank you to Venice Heritage Museum for sharing the following historical photos and info with Venice Paparazzi!

Venice officially opened July 4th, 1905!  This postcard dates from 1908 (picture taken in ’07) with bunting and flags lining the Colonnade at Windward Ave. You’ll recognize some of those original arches just west of Pacific, which are still intact today.

It’s beginning to feel a lot like… Summer!  Bathing beauty studio portraits like this one were a common summer past time at a photography studio right off the original Venice Pier. These ladies were oftentimes employed in publicity stunts that advertised the fun times to be had in Abbot Kinney’s newfound paradise, Venice-of-America.  Courtesy: Stephen Pouliot Collection

Papier mâché heads – an early Venice Beach festival tradition, spearheaded by cultural icon, Arthur Reese, a confidante of Abbot Kinney’s and scion of the original African-American community that settled in Venice-of-America. 

Summer days on Venice Beach!  Love the (long) board style from another era!

Though we might take Muscle Beach for granted these days, the place came to be thanks to a ragtag bunch of lifters who made the boardwalk gym and the original Gold’s on Pacific Ave their home and sanctuary.  They were their own “Venice freakshow” (RIP to the real one), sneered at by beachgoers and pedestrians, driven to perform not by sponsorships but by passion and grit. Venice has always been home to diehards and outcasts. Keep the spirit alive, friends

“Surf Bathing” at Venice Beach …love the safety rope and the full body bathing suits. Some things may have changed but our love for the beach stays the same

Vintage postcard print of Windward Ave looking East, 1918. (Note the original Menotti’s grocery to the right! Namesake of @Menottis Coffee Stop)

A contrast in Venice History!  A barely developed coastline, yet dotted with the first oil rigs that would inevitably inundate our beautiful beach through the 1950s.  And a bonus fun fact: The house to the north of the channel is still standing to this day!

Windward Avenue and parts of Ocean Front Walk are still decorated by rows of columns supporting the 105 year old arcades from Abbot Kinney’s architectural wonder, Venice of America.

The arcades, which provided walkways and protected Victorian crowds from the sun, became a symbol of the city. The capital of each column was decorated with reliefs of two faces, one male and one female.

Cast from both iron and aluminum, the sculptures were created by Felix Peano, an Italian sculptor whose work achieved a significant degree of fame worldwide at the turn of the last century, and who was invited by Abbot Kinney specifically to lend an authentic Venetian air to the city. 

Incredible shot at Windward & Pacific circa 1910-1919 including both the original VENICE sign as well as the Pacific Electric trolley line rolling through to the left!  Source: USC Digital Library

Did you know the Venice Heritage Museum will feature an original restored PE 511 trolley car just like the one here?  It will house art, memorabilia, and digital exhibits — celebrating all the eras of *our* history.  We’re fundraising to support the restoration and secure the lease for Centennial Park. Please consider making a donation today so we can make this a reality!!! www.veniceheritagemuseum.org/donate

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