The Venice Canal Historic District is a district in the Venice section of Los Angeles just two blocks east of the Pacific Ocean. The district is noteworthy for its enclave of homes built around six slim man-made canals where residents and ducks paddle by.
The canals were built in 1905 by developer and tobacco millionaire Abbot Kinney, an asthmatic, entrepreneurial dreamer who won the land in a coin toss as part of his Venice of America plan.
Now a quaint upscale neighborhood, fully restored and remodeled homes make it a postcard scene along the canal shores. Facing the water, the houses are a collection of architectural styles; everything from mid-century modern to storybook cottage, to Roman-inspired villa.
The beautifully lit canals with gondoliers and arched bridges drew widespread publicity and helped sell lots in the development. However, as the automobile gained in popularity, the canals were viewed by many as outdated, and the bulk of the canals were filled in 1929 to create roads.
The original 16 miles of canals were dug in 1904 under the direction of Abbot Kinney. Man and mule worked around the clock to dig the canals in time for the grand opening of Venice on July 4, 1905.
Kinney was displeased with the progress so he deployed steam dredging equipment to complete the canals on time.
Kinney sought to recreate the appearance and feel of Venice, Italy in Southern California. The canals are roughly bounded by Eastern Court on the east, Court A on the south, Strongs Drive on the west, and Court E on the north. There are four east-west canals: Carroll Canal, Linnie Canal, Howland Canal, and Sherman Canal, and two north-south canals: Eastern Canal and Grand Canal.
By 1940, the remaining canals had fallen into disrepair, and the sidewalks were condemned by the city. The canal district remained in poor condition for more than 40 years, as numerous proposals to renovate the canals failed due to lack of funding, environmental concerns, and disputes as to who should bear the financial responsibility.
The canals were finally renovated in 1992, with the canals being drained and new sidewalks and walls. The canals re-opened in 1993 and have become a desirable and expensive residential section of the city.
WHAT: Venice Canal Historic District
WHEN: Open to the public
WHERE: Venice, CA
SOCIAL MEDIA: Yelp
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