Early Views of Santa Monica

Historical Photos of Early Santa Monica
(ca. 1926)** - Birdseye view of Roosevelt Highway (later Pacific Coast Highway) in Santa Monica from Palisades Park.  The steep cliffs of Palisades Park are visible at right, and a wooden fence can be seen running along the top edge. Below, a long line of buildings, including a bath house and the Gables Beach Club can be seen on the left side of Pacific Coast Highway. At the base of the Palisades (center-right) can be seen the foundations for the new Gables Hotel.  


Historical Notes

IIn the 1920s and 30s, a number of fancy beach clubs were built along Santa Monica beach including the aptly named Santa Monica Athletic Club, the Beach Club, the Santa Monica Swimming Club, the Deauville, the Wavecrest, the Edgewater, and the Breakers. There was also the Gables Beach Club, a grand Tudor-style building (seen above) constructed in 1926. ##^^




(ca. 1927)^x^ – Panoramic postcard view looking north toward Malibu showing several beach clubs as seen from Palisades Park.  The Jonathan Club, opened in 1927, is on the lower left. Next to it is the Gables Beach Club, which burned in a fire in 1930, only to reopen with a new building. Across the Roosevelt Highway is the unfinished Gables Hotel, later known as the Sorrento Ruins.  





(ca. 1927)^.^ – View showing the Gables Hotel on the Palisades in Santa Monica.  The hotel was never finished due to the Great Depression and eventually became known as the  Sorrento Ruins.  




Gables Beach Club and Hotel

(ca. 1926)^x^ – Postcard view showing an illustration of the proposed Gables Beach Club and Hotel. The hotel was never completely built.   


Historical Notes

The Gables Beach Club, seen on the beach in the foreground, was completed in 1926 and flourished until it burned in a fire in 1930. It reopened a few years later as the Sorrento Beach Club.

The towering Gables Hotel across the Roosevelt Highway began construction in 1926 just north of the California Incline, but only got as far as the third story when the project was killed by the Great Depression. The hotel was never completed and later became known as the Sorrento Ruins. ^x^




(ca. 1926)#^^ – Aerial view showing the buildings and site of the Gables Beach Club and beach in Santa Monica, with the Palisades bluffs in the background.  Cars are parked across the highway where the 24-story hotel was planned to be constructed.  





(ca. 1926)** -  View of the Santa Monica beach from the palisades, showing the Gables Beach Club. A short pier or breakwater extends into the sea at center, and another can be seen in the distance at right.  


Historical Notes

The grand Tudor-style Gables Beach Club was constructed in 1926. It was a popular filming location. After a fire partially destroyed it in 1930, the club was rebuilt and reopened as the Sorrento Beach Club in 1932.




(1920s)* - View showing Jack Dempsey boxing for a fund raiser in a ring outside the Gables Beach Club.  


Historical Notes

William Harrison "Jack" Dempsey became a cultural icon of the 1920s.  He held the World Heavyweight Championship from 1919 to 1926, and his aggressive style and exceptional punching power made him one of the most popular boxers in history. Many of his fights set financial and attendance records, including the first million-dollar gate.*^




(1927)** - View looking north along Coast Highway from point just north of Colorado Street, Santa Monica. Also visible are: lumber and other construction supplies, workmen, pedestrians, railroad tracks, embankment at the top of which are palm trees, utility poles and lines, buildings (businesses mostly), a few parked automobiles. Legible signs include: "Auto Park", "Santa Monica Athletic Club", "Parking 25¢".  





(1927)** - View looking south along Coast Highway from point just north of Colorado Street, Santa Monica, showing entrance to the Pacific Electric Railway tunnel under Ocean Avenue.  Also visible are: lumber and other construction supplies, generator, parked automobiles, embankment, utility poles and lines, stairs up to Ocean Avenue, businesses, a few palm trees along Ocean Avenue. Legible signs include: "Lunch..., "Pier auto park", "Santa Monica Bath House".  To the right (out of view) is the Deauville Club, which is still under construction.  





Deauville Club

(1927)* – View of beachgoers and the under-construction Deauville Club on the beach in Santa Monica.  The large building is at right and is mostly complete except for the wall facing the beach. There is scaffolding around one of the two large towers on the corners of the buildings. The beach in front of the club is crowded with bathers playing in the sand and the surf. Further down the beach at center are other beach clubs, including the Santa Monica Athletic Club.  


Historical Notes

The Deauville Club was located north of the Santa Monica Pier. It opened to the public in 1927 and was built on the site of the old North Beach House. It was modeled after a casino in Deauville, France, and considered to be one of the most beautiful beach clubs.




(ca. 1927)* – View of the beach in Santa Monica in front of the Deauville Beach Club. The wide sandy beach is at center and is crowded with bathers and their umbrellas. A pair of bicycles is leaning against a post at center. The beach is bordered at right by several large buildings, including the Deauville club in the foreground and the Santa Monica Athletic Club further in the distance.  





(ca. 1930)* -  View of Santa Monica Beach and Pier showing people standing at the rail of the wood-planked pier in the foreground as they look at the beach at center. People in bathing suits with umbrellas over them flood the sandy beach into the distance. The Santa Monica Athletic Club and part of the Deauville Club are in view at upper right.  





(1934)* - View of the Santa Monica Pier showing a jammed-packed parking lot in the foreground. Hundreds of beachgoers can be seen under umbrellas and in the water. In the background the pier can be seen, with several structures on it. The most notable building on the pier is the La Monica Ballroom with minarets topping each of its many towers. At upper left can be seen part of the castle-style Deauville Club.  





(1936)^#^ - A summer day at Santa Monica beach in front of the Deauville Beach Club. In the background, behind Palisades Park, can be seen the Georgian Hotel and thet Bay Cities Guaranty Building with its clock tower.  





(1934)#^^ - View showing a crowd watching a beauty contest at the Deauville Club, with contestants lined up to walk on stage and a contestant modeling a bathing suit next to a musical band. The Georgian Hotel (built in 1933) is seen behind Palisades Park at upper right edge of image.  





(1932)^ - Image of contestants walking on elevated planks in bathing suits for a beauty contest at the Deauville Club in Santa Monica.  





(1930s)* – Three couples posing for the camera by their longboards at Santa Monica Beach with the Deauville Club in the background.  





(ca. 1930s)**^ - Street side view of the castle-style Deauville Club located at the junction of the Roosevelt Highway and Olympic Blvd.  


Historical Notes

In 1930, the Los Angeles Athletic Club bought the Deauville Club and, in 1933, a breakwater built in the bay expanded the sandy beaches, creating more oceanfront space for the multitude of visitors to the area.^^#




(ca. 1930s)**^ - Street side view of the castle-style Deauville Club located at the junction of the Roosevelt Highway and Olympic Blvd. Image enhancement and colorization by Richard Holoff.  





(ca. 1930s)^^ - Interior view of the Deauville Club's lounge area with views of the surf.  


Historical Notes

The Deauville offered guest rooms, a gymnasium, a saltwater plunge, lockers and showers, lounge rooms, game rooms, private dining rooms, and a restaurant.^^#




(1930s)^^ - Interior view of the large, ornate dining hall at the Deauville Club. Chandeliers are seen hanging down from the high ceiling exposed beams.  





(1937)* - Close-up view of the Deauville Club as seen from the beach.  





(1938)^ – View showing an electric dredge in a pool of water in front of the Deauville Club. To the right of the Deauville Club and behind the dredge can be seen the west end of the McClure Tunnel.  





(1938)^ – View showing an electric dredge in a pool of water in front of the Deauville Club. To the right of the Deauville Club and behind the dredge can be seen the west end of the McClure Tunnel. Image enhancement and colorization by Richard Holoff  





(1930s)^ - Image of spectators on the beach watching a fencing match in front of the Deauville Club in Santa Monica, with the Looff Hippodrome seen at right on the Santa Monica Pier.   





(1940s)^ - View looking north showing Palisades Beach Road (part of the Roosevelt Highway and later Pacific Coast Highway), with the Deauville Club (with tower), Santa Monica Athletic Club, and Wavecrest Club, at left, and Palisades Park and bluffs at right.  





(1945)* - Jewish Community Center founders and guests gather for a dinner at the Deauville Club. The attached newspaper article states: "Halfway at the outset was the quota status of the subscription pledges announced for the proposed new Santa Monica Jewish Community Center Building when the Jewish leaders...and 245 others gathered for a dinner program at the Deauville Club." The word "aloha" is visible in the back of the room.  





(ca. 1948)* – Looking down from above PCH toward the Deauville Club with cars turning into the McClure Tunnel. Photo courtesy of Eric Wienberg Collection via Pepperdine University Special Collections.  






(ca. 1955)^ – View looking at the Deauville Beach Club near the end of its life.  






(ca. 1950)^ - The Deauville Club located just north of the Santa Monica Pier, opened in 1927 on the former site of the North Beach Bath House. Its design was inspired by a castle styled casino in Deauville, France.  


Historical Notes

The club hosted bands, beauty contestants, dances, high school proms and banquets. It had several owners over the course of its nearly 40 year life. It was ultimately demolished in the mid-1960s following a devastating fire on April 5th, 1964.




Santa Monica Yacht Harbor and Pier

(1937)^#^ - Aerial photo of the Santa Monica Pier shoreline looking northwest. The Deauville Club sits to the north of the pier. The Casa del Mar Club is the first building located in the lower right corner. Photo by Spencer Air Service  


Historical Notes

A breakwater was built just off the Santa Monica Pier in 1933, creating a harbor for boat anchorage. Upon completion it stood 37-feet high and more than 100-feet wide at its base. It had the added effect of redistributing sand along the shore, creating the wide swath of beach north of the pier.*^*^

The harbor was home to a collection of yachts, fishing boats and a cruise liner to Catalina. It was also the home base for a shuttle service to offshore gambling operations run by mobster Tony Cornero until 1939 when then-Attorney General Earl Warren led a legal crusade to shut them down.

The last to go was Cornero’s flagship, the “Rex”, which was raided in 1939 during what came to be known as “The Battle of Santa Monica Bay”. After a three day standoff, Cornero surrendered because he “needed a haircut”. Government agents boarded the “Rex” and threw all of the gambling machines and tables overboard. Warren subsequently went on to become governor of California, and ultimately Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.^++




(1942)* – Low tide in Santa Monica just north of the pier with the Palisades and California Incline seen in the distance. What appears to be a dredge sits in pool of water surrounded by sand.  





(1940s)^x^ - Postcard view showing the Santa Monica Pier and Harbor.  The Spanish and French Renaissance style La Monica Ballroom stands out.  Also, an aircraft carrier can be seen off in the distance. Frasher's Fotos.  




(1939)** - Gambling boat, Rex resists boarding from California Fish and Game Commision boat, Bonita, off Santa Monica. LA Daily News Speciall Collections  


Historical Notes

In the 1930s, gambling entrepreneurs such as Tony Cornero discovered that ships docked more than three miles from shore fell outside Santa Monica's legal jurisdiction. Old ships were retrofitted as floating casinos serviced by water taxis from the Pier. One of the most famous was the "Rex," a gambling ship anchored in Santa Monica Bay in 1938.

California Attorney General Earl Warren mounted both a lengthy legal campaign to shut down the gambling ships as well as a series of sieges on the Rex, dubbed "The Battle of Santa Monica Bay" by the press. When the police raided the Rex on August 1 1939, they dumped slot machines into the ocean and burned the gambling tables from the ship.^




(ca. 1935)#^^ - View of the Santa Monica Yacht Harbor looking back to Santa Monica beach, with the California Incline seen at left, the two-story Wavecrest Club at center and the edge of the Santa Monica Athletic Club at right.  





(1930s)* - Image of a lifeguard, man in a tuxedo, woman in an evening dress, man in a sailor suit, and others in swimsuits  standing on the deck of a sailboat in the ocean, with the Santa Monica Athletic Club, the Georgian Hotel, the Crocker Bank Building, and the bluffs below Palisades Park in the distance.  





(ca. 1935)#^^ - View showing the Santa Monica Yacht harbor with boats in the water and people standing at the end of the Santa Monica Pier looking toward the beach.  The Deauville Club (at right with towers), Santa Monica Athletic Club (center) and Wavecrest Club (at far left) are visible on the beach and the Bay Cities Guaranty Building (also known as the Clock Tower Building or Crocker Bank Building) is visible beyond the Palisades bluffs and Palisades Park.  





(ca. 1934)#^^ - Image of a beach crowded with people, small boats, and beach umbrellas just north of the Santa Monica Pier.  The Deauville Club (on the beach with towers) is in front of the bluffs of Palisades Park with a sign for "Yachtsmen" and a sign advertising "Sea Food Grotto, fish dinners, clam chowder and cocktails" is seen on a restaurant situated at the edge of the pier at right.  





(1937)* -  Fishermen are angling from the pier with the La Monica Ballroom seen on the right.  


Historical Notes

The Spanish and French Renaissance style La Monica Ballroom was designed by T.H. Eslick; it opened on July 23, 1924 and was demolished in 1963.





Santa Monica Pier (1939-1958)

(ca. 1939)* – View showing a crowded Santa Monica Pier with the Looff Hippodrome seen in the upper-left and the La Monica Ballroom in the distance.  





(ca. 1940s)** - View looking toward the shoreline from the Santa Monica Pier showing cars parked and people walking.  The Deauville Club can be seen in the distance.  





(1950s)* - Postcard view showing Santa Monica Pier.  






(1958)* - Looking down the access ramp to the Santa Monica Pier with the Merry-Go-Round in the left foreground.  






(1940s)^ - Postcard view looking northwest showing the Colorado Avenue access ramp to the Santa Monica Municipal Pier. The overpass was opened in 1940.  


Historical Notes

The bridge and entry gate to Santa Monica Pier were built in 1938 by the federal Works Project Administration, and replaced the former grade connection.




Santa Monica Pier Sign

(ca. 1940)^ - Image of a line of people waving while standing under a neon sign for the Santa Monica Pier. The sign reads "Santa Monica Yacht Harbor Sport Fishing and Boating Cafes."  


Historical Notes

In 1940 the famous neon sign at the top of the Pier ramp was installed by the Santa Monica Pier Businessmen’s Association to celebrate the opening of the newly-built ramp. It is an internationally-recognized tourist destination and a symbol of the Southern California lifestyle.^++





(n.d.)#^ - Nigth view of the Santa Monica Pier neon sign (installed in 1940).  






Then and Now

(1940 vs 2019)* - Santa Monica Pier Sign  



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(1930s)* - Members of one of the private clubs at a beach party; in the background is the Santa Monica Pier.  






(1938)* - Sunbathers, beach volleyball players, and umbrellas crowd the beach before a line of private beach clubs interrupts their spread. A sign on the first wall, center, reads "Waverly Club, private beach, members only". The eight story building formerly was Breakers Beach Club, 1725 Promenade in Santa Monica. The next six story building is the Jonathan Club, formerly the Edgewater Beach Club, 1855 Promenade.  


Historical Notes

The Breakers Beach Club opened in 1926. The 8-story building had over 300 sleeping apartments and a full complement of amenities for guests. As ownership changed, it was also known as Club Lido. Eventually the club transitioned into a hotel, used to house military personnel during World War II. Later it was also known as the Chase Hotel.

The structure became an apartment building known as the Sea Castle Apartments in the 1960s. The building was completely destroyed by fire in 1996.





(1939)* - Miles of public beach serve millions of recreation-seekers along the Pacific shores of Los Angeles County. This scene is between Ocean Park and Venice on June 26, 1939.  






(1930s)* - Crowded day at Ocean Park beach in Santa Monica.  






(1939)* - Not a parking space to be had. Another busy day at the beach in Santa Monica.  





(1945)* – Santa Monica Beach…’This is how we Winter’.  





Santa Monica Lifeguard Service

(1934)^ – Lifeguards march in line in front of Santa Monica Pier.  


Historical Notes

The Santa Monica Lifeguard Service was founded in the 1920’s under Captain George Watkins.  In 1934, it established a home on the Santa Monica Pier in the former Bowling and Billiards Building.  A year later they moved to the La Monica Ballroom and, while there, operated an aquarium.*





(1935)* - Santa Monica Lifeguards line up at the edge of Santa Monica Pier.     


Historical Notes

In the early years of the lifeguard service, it attracted a following of Hollywood heavyweights and swimming champions. Duke Kahanamoku of Hawaii brought surfing to Santa Monica. Johnny Weismuller was made an honorary lifeguard, since so many of the team would stunt double for him in the Tarzan films. Gary Cooper was a fan, along with Marion Davies, Darryl Zanuck and Cary Grant, who kept houses by the beach.

The lifeguard service expanded along with the explosion of coastal real estate development in the early part of the 20th century. Abbot Kinney hired lifeguards to patrol the beach to help sell his beachfront properties. Kinney’s wife was responsible for raising funds to purchase the first lifeguard boat in Venice and organized lifeguards into a crew.

Back then, lifeguards would carry long metal cans – or rescue tubes (invented by a Santa Monica lifeguard) on rescues. Today, the tubes are made of plastic polymers, but the essentials of the job remain unchanged – vigilant eyes on the surf, anticipating problems and steering crowds away from dangerous behaviors, like drinking.^

In the mid-1930s the Santa Monica Lifeguard Headquarters was located in the La Monica Ballroom Building located on the pier.  In the late 1950s a New Headquarters Building would be built at 1642 Ocean Front Walk, which is still in use today.


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Muscle Beach

(1948)* - View of the original Muscle Beach, located south of the Santa Monica pier, at a long, wooden platform constructed by the Works Progress Administration.  


Historical Notes

Muscle Beach is where the body was celebrated in its sunbaked glory as young men (and more than a few women) showed off their physical prowess by performing acrobatic and gymnastic routines. The original Muscle Beach disappeared in the late 1950s; the modern-day version is now located in Venice Beach.*





(1948)* - Mr. Muscles contestant performing acrobatic move as crowd watches at Muscle Beach in Santa Monica.  


Historical Notes

Beginning in 1934, the fantastic gymnastics shows held here made the site a major attraction and center of the international fitness movement led by Jack LaLanne, Steve Reeves and Joe Gold.





(1951)* - Two thousand people watch acrobatics during a program at which Downey dairyman Ken Cameron, 23, was chosen "Mr. Muscle Beach of 1951." He won over 15 others in the contest sponsored by the Santa Monica Recreation Department on July 4, 1951.  


Historical Notes

Acrobats, gymnasts and bodybuilders performed before large crowds, which often included Jayne Mansfield and Mae West. Santa Monica's Muscle Beach reached the height of its popularity in the 1940s before moving to its current location in Venice Beach in 1959.*^*^





(1948)* - Entertainment aplenty, Muscle Beach.  


Historical Notes

The 1940 opening of the first of an eventual nationwide chain of weightlifting gyms by famed pioneer gym chain operator, Vic Tanny, only two city blocks from Muscle Beach in Santa Monica is commonly considered a key contributor to the increasing attraction of bodybuilders and strength lifters to Muscle Beach from across the nation. By the 1950s Muscle Beach established worldwide fame and helped to popularize and bring legitimacy to physical culture with acrobatics and bodybuilding and contribute to a nationwide health and fitness movement continuing into the 21st century.*^





(ca. 1949)* - Acrobats on Muscle Beach.  


Historical Notes

Male and female gymnasts regularly put on public shows, dazzling beachgoers with their displays of strength and balance.





(1951)** - Miss Muscle Beach contest with the Purser Apartments in the background.  






(1954)**^ - View showing a not so crowded Muscle Beach. The original Muscle Beach disappeared in the late 1950s; the modern-day version is now located in Venice Beach.  





View From the Top

(1943)* – Actress Susan Peters Looking down at Santa Monica beach from the palisades.  






(1949)**^ - View of the beach in Santa Monica on a summer day.  





(1940s)^ - Closer view showing sunbathers enjoying a day at Santa Monica Beach, with the California Incline and Palisades Park in the background.  





(1940)* – Goodyear blimp, ‘Resolute’, lands on the sand at Santa Monica Beach.  The Cities Guaranty Clock Tower Building (Crocker Bank Building) can be seen in the background.  


Historical Notes

That building with the arched windows to the left of the blimp, was the old armory building that became an officers club during WWII and for a time after. By the late 50s, Synanon took it over. That was 'the Synanon house on the beach,' throughout the 60s, prior to their moving into Casa del Mar.





(1940s)* - View overlooking Pacific Coast Highway. Palisades Park can be seen above the cliffs on the left. The Santa Monica beach is on the right, and La Monica's ballroom on the pier is in the distance. Pedestrian bridge over the highway is seen in the center of photo.  


Historical Notes

When the Pacific Coast Highway was built in 1927, new concrete steps and a bridge over the highway were built to replace the wooden ones which allowed for continued beach access. In 1935, the bridge shown above replaced the one built in 1927.*^*^





(1997)* - Looking over the Pacific Coast Highway from Santa Monica Bluffs, with the Jonathan Club, the pier, and Palos Verdes Peninsula visible in the upper left. A continuous stream of cars can be seen as they travel along PCH below the pedestrian bridge; in contrast, the parking lot on the right is completely empty.  


Historical Notes

Today, Santa Monica has 4 pedestrian bridges that cross PCH with stairs that take you down to the beaches.^***





(1952)** - View showing a life guard jeep and rescue boat at Santa Monica Beach.  Caption reads:   “Rescue jeep's newest radio equipment to talk to (1) radio equipped lifeguard power rescue boat on emergency call and (2) lifeguard headquarters station (extreme right end of pier). Santa Monica is the only guard station on the coast with its own frequency, assigned by the Federal Communication Commission".   





Santa Monica Lifeguard Headquarters

(1959)^ - Santa Monica Lifeguard Headquarters off Pacific Coast Hwy.   The building was designed by Welton Becket and Associates.  


Historical Notes

The lifeguard facility was originally constructed in the late 1950’s and has been staffed by Los Angeles County since the 1970’s. The County Fire Department provides year-round lifeguard coverage for the beach seven days a week, as well as round the clock emergency response and paramedic support.*





(2018)^ - Santa Monica Lifeguard Headquarters at 1642 Ocean Front Walk with Santa Monica Pier seen in the background.  


Historical Notes

The Los Angeles County Fire Department Lifeguard Division is the largest professional lifeguard service in the world. In 2018, the Los Angeles County Lifeguard Service employed 177 year-round lifeguards (chiefs, captains and ocean lifeguard specialists) and over 650 seasonal lifeguards (recurrents). Operating out of four Sectional Headquarters, located in Hermosa, Santa Monica, Marina Del Rey and Zuma beach. Each of these headquarters staffs a 24-hour response unit, and are part of the 911 system.

In addition to providing marine firefighting, LA County Lifeguards have specialized training for fire boat operations.

Prior to July 1, 1994, Los Angeles County Lifeguards were part of the Department of Beaches and Harbors.*^


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(1950)* - Surfing California. Surfing is more than a sport....it's a way of life!  


Historical Notes

“Out of water, I am nothing.” — Duke Kahanamoku

“Surfing’s one of the few sports where you look ahead to see what’s behind.” — Laird Hamilton

“One of the greatest things about the sport of surfing is that you need only three things: your body, a surfboard, and a wave.” — Naima Green





(1964)^ - Still image from the Frankie and Annette beach movie "Muscle Beach Party" from 1964. The Jalopy caravan moves down the Pacific Coast Highway in Pacific Palisades with the Sunset Mesa development in the background.  


Historical Notes

Muscle Beach Party (1964) is the second of seven beach party films produced by American International Pictures. It stars Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello and was directed by William Asher, who also directed four other films in this series.*^





(1968)* - View of a young surfer riding a wave in Santa Monica.  






(1977)* - The parking lot at the beach in Santa Monica has only a few empty spots. People are strolling or sunbathing or playing beach volleyball as sailboats pass by.  






(1950s)* - View showing a palm tree-lined Ocean Avenue with the Palos Verdes Peninsula in the distance.  


Historical Notes

Ocean Avenue is a road in Santa Monica that starts at the residential Adelaide Drive on the north end of Santa Monica and ends at Pico Boulevard. Ocean Avenue is the westernmost street in Santa Monica, and for most of its course it runs parallel to Palisades Park, whose bluffs overlook Pacific Coast Highway and Santa Monica State Beach.*^





(1960s)^ – Postcard view from Palisades Park near Inspiration Point of the Pacific Coast Highway stretching northward along the beach. The building seen through the palm trees is the 101 Ocean Avenue condo complex.  


Historical Notes

Built in 1963, the 101 Ocean Ave condo complex is made up of 59 units in a 10-story building.




Third Street (now Third Street Promenade)

(1933)^ – Postcard view looking south on Third Street from Arizona Avenue showing streetlights, automobiles, pedestrians and storefronts. The Bay Cities Guaranty Clock Tower Building (Crocker Bank Building) is seen at right and the Criterion Theatre is seen at left advertising "The White Sister" with Helen Hayes. Signs on the street read "Criterion Drug Co." "Criterion Apartments" "Avon Hotel" "Sponberg's Department Store" "Montgomery Ward & Co" and "J.C. Penny Co."  


Historical Notes

The Criterion Theatre was built in 1924 and was part of the Fox West Coast Thetres ciruit. In 1983, the theatre was rebuilt to make way for a new 6-plex.***





(1940)* – Looking down Third Street, showing A&P Supermarket, Bay Cities Guaranty Building and Europa Company Department Store.  






(ca. 1950)##^* – View looking south down Third Street showing the Fox Criterion Theatre on the left, located at 1315 Third Street.  






(2008)#*^# - Google street view of the Third Street Promenade showing the Criterion Theatre on the left.  


Historical Notes

Mann Theatres took over the Criterion in 1991 and in 2001, remodeled the interior and exterior of the theater. The architectural firm Behr Browers Architects of Westlake CA were responsible for the remodel. It was one of the most successful theaters in the circuit.

The Criterion Theatre was closed on March 30, 2013 to make room for more retail stores.***





Before and After

(ca. 1950)##^* – View looking south down Third Street with the Fox Criterion Theatre on the left.   (2008)#*^# - View of the Third Street Promenade with the Criterion Theatre on the left.







(ca. 1955)*** – View looking north on Third Street in Santa Monica (now the Third Street Promenade). On the right legible signs include:  Santa Monica Colony Club, California Bank, Richmond’s, and in the distance, the Criterion Theatre.  


Historical Notes

Third Street Promenade has been a center of business in Santa Monica since the town's inception in the late 19th century. The Promenade's roots date back to the 1960s when three blocks of Third Street were converted into a pedestrian mall.*^





(1965)* - View showing the Third Street Promenade under construction.  


Historical Notes

“A 'pedestrians' paradise' is in the making in this Santa Monica Street. A three-block-long mall, free of vehicular traffic, is under construction in this area”. -  Herald Examiner - July 27, 1965.*





(1965)^ - The 3rd Street Promenade in Santa Monica, when it first opened as a pedestrian-only street. The El Miro Theatre is seen on the right. UCLA image archive  


Historical Notes

It wasn’t called the 3rd Street Promenade until they revamped it in the late 80s. Before that it was called The Santa Monica Mall.






(1880)* - View of Third Street, between Utah and Oregon (now Santa Monica Boulevard).   (ca. 2010s)* - View of the Third Street Promenade.







(2010s vs. 1920s)^.^ - Then and Now - Third and Broadway, Santa Monica .  






(ca. 2010s)* - Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica. A Bar and Grill can be seen on the left side. Two fountains with art sculptures are in the middle of the mall. A Cineplex theater and a Broadway's Deli is on the right side. Three vendors with push carts can be seen towards the middle of the mall, with many people walking throughout the area. The Santa Monica beach is 3-4 blocks away.   


Historical Notes

Third Street Promenade's roots date back to the 1960s when three blocks of Third Street were converted into a pedestrian mall. Although successful, by the late 1970s, the Santa Monica Mall (as it was then called), was in need of modernization and a redesign. A new enclosed shopping center, Santa Monica Place (1980–2007), designed by Frank Gehry was added at the Promenade's southern end. A citywide bond measure was issued and architectural firm ROMA Design Group was hired to redesign Santa Monica Mall. The renamed Third Street Promenade opened on September 16, 1989. The project was part of a larger redevelopment effort, encompassing several blocks of Downtown Santa Monica. Santa Monica Place has since been renovated into a new open-air shopping and dining experience that re-opened on August 6, 2010.*^





Route 66 - End of the Trail

(2013)* - The Route 66 End of the Trail sign is one of Santa Monica’s hidden gems, located on one end of the Santa Monica Pier. Photo courtesy of C H Ogawa  


Historical Notes

Known as the Will Rogers Highway, the Mother Road and the Main Street of America, the 2,450-mile-long Route 66 was originally built to connect Chicago to Los Angeles. Though the actual end of the legendary highway has been debated for decades, this replica of the long-lost End of the Trail Sign officially marks the Western terminus of the great highway.





(2014)* - Route 66 - End of the Trail sign at the Santa Monica Pier with Ferris wheel in the background. Photo courtesy of Marie Christin  






(2013)* - The sign of US 66's western terminus at the Santa Monica Pier. Photo by Christian Beiwinkel / Wikipedia  





Santa Monica Pier

(1979)* - PIER PRESSURE--A summery weekend brought throngs of people to the shops, restaurants and beach along the Santa Monica Pier.  






(1988)* - Santa Monica Pier looking north on the first day of Spring. Photograph dated: March 21, 1988.  






(1985)* - Crowds on the beach north of the Santa Monica Pier.  






(2008)*^ - View of Santa Monica Beach from the pier on a crowded day. In the distance can be seen the California Incline and some of the City's skyline.  






(2009)*^ - Panoramic view of the Santa Monica Pier as seen from an altitude of 2,000', looking south. Several rides of the pier’s amusement park, Pacific Park, can be seen including the large Ferris wheel. Photo by 'Jelson25' / Wikipedia  







(2009)*^ - Panoramic view of the beach and pier in Santa Monica. The City's skyline can be seen in the background. Photo by Matthew Field / Wikipedia  







(2012)* – Close-up view of the Ferris wheel at Santa Monica Pier.  Photo by Carol M. Highsmith / Library of Congress  






Then and Now

(1927 vs Now)* - Santa Monica Pier showing the LA Monica Ballroom where the Ferris wheel is today. Contemporary photo by Lorie Vignolle-Moritz.  





California Incline

(ca. 1987)* - Cars travel in both directions along Ocean Avenue where it crosses California Avenue in Santa Monica. California Avenue leads to the California Incline, also known as the California Avenue Incline Bridge (foreground, left), connecting Ocean Avenue to the Pacific Coast Highway.  Sign at left reads:  California Incline, Vehicles in Excess of 6,000 lbs. Prohibited.  


Historical Notes

The California Incline was identified as structurally deficient in the early 1990s.  In 2007, the City of Santa Monica secured federal highway funds to replace the structure with one meeting current seismic standards.





(2011)* - View of the California Incline as seen from the Santa Monica Pier. Photo by Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times  


Historical Notes

The California Incline was rebuilt between 2015 and 2016.  The new bridge consists of a pile-supported reinforced concrete slab structure with a width of 51 feet 8 inches, an increase of 5 feet 8 inches over the previous structure. The project cost $17 million, with 88.5% coming from federal funds and the balance from local funds. Construction began in April 2015 and took 17 months to complete. The roadway reopened to the public on September 1, 2016. The rebuilt structure includes wider sidewalks and bicycle lanes. *^

Click HERE to see early views of the California Incline (1905 +).




Palisades Park

(2012)* - View of one of two very large cannons located at Palisades Park. Three people are seen by the rail at the bluff's edge looking out toward Santa Monica Pier and Beach. Photo courtesy of Thomas Hart  


Historical Notes

A pair of Civil War seacoast cannons dating from 1861 were given to the City of Santa Monica on July 4, 1908, by the U.S Veteran’s Administration. Originally, each of the mounted guns had a pyramidal stack of iron cannonballs beside it, which are now gone. One cannon is located north of Colorado Boulevard near the entrance to the Santa Monica Pier. The other cannon, is located north of the Recreation center. They are ten-inch Rodman smoothbore seacoast guns. Each of the cannons is twelve-feet long and weighs about sixteen tons. They came to Palisades Park from Angel Island.

Santa Monica was never defended with cannons during times of war, although it is said that during the Spanish-American War, the city engineer mounted lengths of large pipes along the bluff to give the impression that the city was heavily fortified.#^#^





(n.d.)* - Tall palm trees line the walking path in Palisades Park. The Santa Monica beach can be seen in the background.  


Historical Notes

In recognition of its value as a historic resource and cultural landscape, Palisades Park was designated as a Santa Monica landmark in 2007.





(2023)* - Looking down from the top of Palisades Park. Photo courtesy of Paul Wright  






(1988)* - Two bike riders take advantage of springtime in January while they take in the sights along the sunny, wind-swept beach path between Santa Monica and Venice Beach. Photograph dated: Jan. 26, 1988.  






(1986)* - A large colony of seagulls fills the sky over on a beach in Santa Monica, where a woman is seen jogging near the water.  






(n.d.)* - Sunset over the Pacific Ocean as seen at Santa Monica Beach.  








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References and Credits

* LA Public Library Image Archive

^ LADWP Historic Archive

**USC Digital Library

^^The California History Room, California State Library

^*LMU Digital Collection: Arcadia Hotel

#* LA Times: Marquez Family

#^ Santa Monica Public Library Image Archive

+# Santa Monica Mirror: Statue of Santa Monica

+^ Santa Monica Landmarks: Looff Hippodrome

## Library of Congress: Santa Monica Bay ca. 1908; Ferris Wheel

***Cinema Treasures: El Miro Theatre; Criterion Theatre and Thrid Street; Criterion Theatre

+++Vanderbilt Cup Races

^x^Facebook.com: Venice, Ca, Ocean Park, & Santa Monica in the 20th Century

**^Noirish Los Angeles - forum.skyscraperpage.com; Deauville Club; Palisades Park Cannon; Muscle Beach

^^*Deviantart-Studio5: Santa Monica Beach

^^#University of California Digital Library: The Deauville Club

^^+Stanford University Revs Digital Library

*^#Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles: losangelespast.com

*#*KCET: A Historical Look at SoCal's Beaches

*#^Santa Monica Public Library

^#*Santa Monica History Museum

^#^Framework.latimes.com: Santa Monica Beach, 1936; Santa Monica Aerial, 1937; McClure Tunnel

^##The Malibu Times: Historic Las Flores Canyon

+##Facebook.com: Vintage Los Angeles

##+Hagley Digital Archives

*#*KCET: A Historical Look at SoCal's Beaches; Arch Rock and Castle Rocks; When L.A.'s Most Famous Streets Were Dirt Roads

**#The Central Tower Building - City Landmark Assessment and Evaluation Report

#**MTA Transportation and Research Library Archives

#^^Huntington Digital Library Archive

#++Bel-Air Bay Club History

#*^Electric Railway History: Venice Trams

#^#Calisphere Digital Archive

#+#Facebook.com: Photos of Los Angeles

^^^California State Library Image Archive

^v^Pepperdine Digital Archive

^++Santa Monica Pier HIstory

****Life.time.com: Stoked-Life Goes Surfing

^^^^Pinterest/Santa Monica Past: Santa Monica Canyon Flood; Santa Monica Airport/Clover Field; Douglas Aircraft

^*^*UCLA Digital Collection

*^*^Santa Monica Beach Stories

^**^California Legends: Santa Monica at the End of Route 66

*^^*Discoverlosangeles.com: Santa Monica

*^^^NonPhotography.com-Nika: Santa Monica Pier

***^History of the Fairmont Miramar Hotel and Bungalows

^***Southern California Beaches: Santa Monica Beach

**#*Santa Monica via Beverly Hills Line - uncanny.net

*#**Los Angeles Westerners Corral: Venice Miniature Railway

*##*AkamaIdivers.com: Pacific Ocean Pier

*##^Santa Monica Conservancy; Henshey’s Tegner Building

*#*#Los Angeles Then and Now: Douglas' Dream Took Wing in Santa Monica

*#^#Flickr.com: Walking Over Santa Monica

^#*#Venice History: Roller Coasters and Carousels

^^*#Oceanpark.wordpress.com: Ocean Park Time Line

*^*#Santa Monica Municipal Airport


*^^#LAistory: The Santa Monica Pier

#*^*Cardcow.com: Marion Davies' Mansion

#***California 2012 - Travel w/ Terry: Annenberg Beach House

#*#*Flickr.com: Michael Ryerson

#^#*Denver Public Library Image Archive

#^^^Survey LA: Brentwod-Pacific Palisades Community Plan Area

#^*^Santa Monica Landmark Properties

#*^^Pinterest.com: California

#*^#Google Street Views

#^^*Pinterest.com: Old Hollywood

#^#^Paslisades Park: smgov.net

##*^Facebook.com: Hollywood's Garden of Allah Novels, Martin Turnbull

##^^MartinTurnbull.com: Gables Beach Club

****^Facebook.com: West San Fernando Valley Then And Now



*#*#*Venice Miniature Railroad - Jeffrey Stanton

*^ Wikipedia: California State Route 1; History of Santa Monica; Alphonzo Bell; Venice; California Incline; Route 66; Third Street Pomenade; Santa Monica Pier; Casa del Mar Hotel; Pacific Palisades - Castellammare; Parkhurst Building; Venice Canal HIstoric District; Annenberg Community Beach House; Santa Monica High School; Jack Dempsey; Muscle Beach; Wilshire Boulevard


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