Venice in Los Angeles
2904 Washington Blvd, Suite 100
Tel: (310 396-7016)
Since its inception, Venice has attracted a bohemian society, from the rowdy crowd who frequented its dance hall and bathhouse in the 1910s to beatniks in the 1950s. Today, the town has a large population of artists, whose studios line the streets.
The community was founded in 1900 by tobacco magnate Abbot Kinney as a US version of Venice, Italy. Hoping to spark a cultural renaissance in southern California, he built a system of canals and imported gondolas and gondoliers to punt along the waterways.
Unfortunately, Kinney did not take the tides into consideration when designing Venice, and the area was constantly dogged by sewage problems. Today, only a few of the original 7 miles (11 km) of canals remain, the rest having been filled in during 1927. The traffic circle at Windward Avenue was the main lagoon, and Grand Boulevard, which runs southeast from there, was the Grand Canal.
The best place to see the remaining canals is on Dell Avenue, where old bridges, boats, and ducks grace the waterways. Over the years, the circus atmosphere of Venice Beach has never faltered. On the boardwalk during weekends, semiclad men and women whiz past on bicycles and skates, while a zany array of street performers, like chainsaw jugglers and one-man bands, captivates the crowds.
Muscle Beach, where Arnold Schwarzenegger used to work out, still attracts body builders. While Venice Beach is safe to explore on foot by day, it is best avoided at night.