The Santa Monica Pier is one of the most popular landmarks in Santa Monica. Every day a great number of people – residents and tourists – visit this place to enjoy a nice lunch or dinner, a drink or two, one of the many attractions on the Pier or just to go for a calm walk enlightened by the incredible sunset view over the ocean.
So how did it all start?
The story begins in 1909, believe it or not – from the bottom. Literally! In the beginning of the 20th century, the City of Santa Monica was facing a “light” problem. They were trying to figure out how to get rid of their sewage. The solution was pretty simple – build a 1,600 feet long pier with a pipeline underneath and throw everything in the ocean. It was made of concrete because a standard wooden pier would not be able to withstand the local sea conditions. Fortunately, its’ primary functions were discontinued just a few decades later.
Santa Monica Pier was actually the first pier built on the west coast of the U.S. Thousands of people attended the opening day – September 9th, 1909 – which featured multiple running, boating and swimming events as well as a visit from the US Navy Cruiser USS Albany and a performance called The Surrender of Rex Neptune:
Rex Neptune, the king of the sea, declared he will destroy the brand new pier. Queen Santa Monica pointed out that it is made of concrete and it is impossible even for the mighty king to destroy. He then examined the pier, admitted his defeat and dove off the pier. So exciting!
The pier quickly became a favorite place for the local fishing community. It was convenient and also, according to stories, there was a great deal of fish swimming down there.
Around 1915-1916 the neighbors – Ocean Park and Venice Piers – had already appeared. The community of Santa Monica wanted some entertainment in place in order the compete with them. Charles Looff, a famous carousel carver and amusement entrepreneur, did the job pretty well. He built another, wider pier with an amusement park next to the existing one. Not surprisingly, he called it the Looff Pleasure Pier. Visitors could enjoy a carousel and a roller coaster or play some bowling and billiards. Live music shows were also held there and the pier quickly became known as the top attraction near the coast.
After a couple of misfortunes, including collapsing of the pier and then rebuilding it, Looff’s family lost their interest in the pier and sold it to a company named the Santa Monica Amusement Company. They quickly upgraded the roller coaster and made a longer and faster one. Their next plan was to build… a ballroom.
And they did. In fact, they built the largest ballroom on the Earth at that time. More than 50,000 people went to the opening of the La Monica Ballroom on July 23, 1924. It was the reason for the first traffic jam in Santa Monica’s history. As you most probably know, it was definitely not the last one.
La Monica Ballroom, 15,000 square feet, had a hard maple floor and such an interior that made it the hottest place in town. Unfortunately, the Greatest Depression was already on its’ way and soon it ended the happy days. By the 1930s the pier had already been a convention center, lifeguard headquarters, and even the City Jail for a while.
What happened after that? You can see in our next article – All About The Santa Monica Pier (Part 2).
Meanwhile, our restaurant – Bread and Porridge – is just a few minutes away from the Santa Monica Pier and we have a great variety of healthy and delicious meals. We also have some weekend brunch specials. So once you decide to visit the pier and you feel like eating something amazing, don’t think twice – just visit us straight away!
See you soon!