Posts tagged “Venice Beach

Venice in America

Posted on June 4, 2012

Visitors to Venice Beach, California, today are more likely to think of early-’80s roller skaters from Xanadu than Venice, Italy. Three quarters of a century before, however, Abbot Kinney’s vision brought a piece of Italy to the Pacific coast in Los Angeles. Replete with gondoliers and Renaissance-style architecture, Kinney’s Venice, as American Tourism contributor J. Philip Gruen demonstrates, was a short-lived cultural experiment that nevertheless set the tone for one of L.A.’s quirkiest neighborhoods. Apart from the Venice Canal Historic District, little of the Venetian influence tempers the sun-drenched stretch of trinket shops and vendor stands. A close inspection turns up the occasional nod to the city on the Adriatic. Bits of the Colonnade have been salvaged, and St. Mark’s Hotel’s neighboring Italian Renaissance…

Venice Beach’s Battle of the Boardwalk

Posted on April 24, 2012

Venice Beach is widely known for its carefree, bohemian air. Having enticed successive waves of Beats, hippies, punks, roller-derby fiends, and other nonconformists for decades, the funky Los Angeles neighborhood along the Pacific is among the inheritors of a long tradition of quirky enclaves in America: New York’s Greenwich Village, New Orleans’s French Quarter, San Francisco’s North Beach and Haight-Ashbury, Cleveland’s Coventry Village, Miami’s Coconut Grove, and Atlanta’s Little Five Points, to name but a few. This image is so pervasive that few can believe Venice had its origin as a master-planned residential community laced with gondola-plied canals that conjured its Italian namesake, as architectural historian Philip Gruen describes in American Tourism. Like other counterculture havens, Venice Beach became noted for the free-spirited joie…