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Sands of Time: Exploring the Beaches Surrounding Los Angeles in the 1890s

Long before the glittering skyscrapers and bustling streets, the beaches surrounding Los Angeles were an idyllic escape for locals and visitors alike. In this brief blog post, we'll delve into the history of these coastal gems during the 1890s, uncovering the allure, transformation, and leisurely pursuits that defined the beach culture of the era.

Santa Monica Beach:

In the 1890s, Santa Monica Beach emerged as a popular destination for those seeking respite by the sea. The completion of the Santa Monica Pier in 1894 brought a surge of visitors, drawn by its scenic beauty and recreational opportunities. The beach became a hub for leisurely activities, including swimming, picnicking, and strolling along the sandy shores, establishing Santa Monica as a seaside haven.

Venice Beach:

During the 1890s, the visionary developer Abbot Kinney transformed the marshy lands of Venice into a vibrant beachside community. Venice Beach, named after the famous Italian city, boasted canals, gondolas, and grand promenades that echoed the charm of its European counterpart. Visitors flocked to Venice Beach to experience its unique blend of entertainment, including concerts, vaudeville shows, and athletic events.

Redondo Beach:

Redondo Beach, located south of Santa Monica, flourished as a popular destination during the 1890s. With its picturesque coastline and abundant marine life, Redondo Beach attracted tourists and locals who sought relaxation and seaside recreation. The opening of the Redondo Beach Hotel in 1890 further elevated its appeal, providing luxurious accommodations for those seeking a coastal retreat.

Long Beach:

While Long Beach's transformation into a bustling port city began in the late 19th century, its beaches also offered recreational opportunities during the 1890s. With its expansive coastline and temperate climate, Long Beach became a favored spot for swimming, boating, and leisurely walks along the shore. The city's early efforts to develop the waterfront foreshadowed its future as a prominent coastal destination.

In the 1890s, the beaches surrounding Los Angeles were already capturing the hearts of those seeking sun, surf, and relaxation. From Santa Monica's scenic beauty to Venice's vibrant entertainment scene, the coastal communities of the era laid the foundation for the beach culture that thrives in Los Angeles today. As we bask in the sun and enjoy the shores of these iconic beaches, we pay homage to the history, charm, and timeless allure of the coastal havens that have captivated generations of beachgoers.


Pic 1: Imagine wearing that! A day at the beach in Long Beach - 1898. Photo from the CA State Library.

Pic 2: Avalon in the late 1890s. The Hotel Metropole is the large structure on the right while the large white-roofed tent-like structure towards the left was the old dance hall.

Pic 3: Redondo Beach with the pier in the background - ca. 1891.

Pic 4: Devil's Gate - Long Beach ca. 1895. Most of what constituted the rock formation had eroded away by the early 1900s and it was fully removed to make way for the Belmont Pier ca. 1908/1909.

Pic 5: Long Beach ca. 1897. Love these little shacks on wheels that I assume could be placed on the sand and removed with the help of horses.

Pic 6: Looking south down Santa Monica Beach towards the North Beach Bathhouse and Hotel Arcadia - 1897. The tracks seen here went to the mile-long Long Wharf just north of Santa Monica Canyon and was used by Southern Pacific for freight while streetcars from the Los Angeles Pacific Railroad (eventually part of Pacific Electric) carried tourists.

Pic 7: Arch Rock ca. 1895. Quite a popular tourist destination around the turn of the 20th century - it was either blasted secretly in the night, or simply eroded away after a storm in 1906. Today it's where Mastro's is located on PCH.

Pic 8: San Pedro during low tide - ca. 1895.

Pic 9: The enormous and beautiful Hotel Redondo ca. 1897. Built in 1890 with 225 rooms that included running hot water and fireplaces, extensive gardens and common areas, a bowling alley, golf course, tennis courts and more - it was quite the place. After a series of devastating storms destroyed the local piers, coupled with Prohibition passing in 1920 - tourism tanked and the hotel closed in 1925.

Pic 10: looking north along Santa Monica Beach ca.


All pics from the CA State Library apart from pic 6 (from the USC Archives).

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