Venice is a residential, commercial, and recreational beachfront neighborhood within Los Angeles, California. It is located within the urban region of western Los Angeles County known as the Westside.
Venice was founded in 1905 as a seaside resort town. It was an independent city until 1926, when it merged with Los Angeles. Today, Venice is known for its canals, beaches, and the circus-like Ocean Front Walk, a two-and-a-half-mile (4.0 km) pedestrian promenade that features performers, mystics, artists and vendors.
According to the Mapping L.A. project of the Los Angeles Times, Venice is adjoined on the northwest by Santa Monica, on the northeast by Mar Vista, on the southeast by Culver City, Del Reyand Marina Del Rey, on the south by Ballona Creek and on the west by the Pacific Ocean.
Venice is bounded on the northwest by the Santa Monica city line. The northern apex of the Venice neighborhood is at Walgrove Avenue and Rose Avenue abutting the Santa Monica Airport. On the east the boundary runs north-south on Walgrove Avenue to the neighborhood’s eastern apex at Zanja Street, thus including the Penmar Golf Course but excluding Venice High School. The boundary runs on Lincoln Boulevard to Admiralty Way, excluding all of Marina del Rey, south to Ballona Creek.
The City of Los Angeles official zoning map ZIMAS shows Venice High School as included in Venice, as does Google Maps.
Abbot Kinney Boulevard
Abbott Kinney Boulevard is a principal attraction, with stores, restaurants, bars and art galleries lining the street. The street was described as “a derelict strip of rundown beach cottages and empty brick industrial buildings called West Washington Boulevard,” and in the late 1980s community groups and property owners pushed for renaming a portion of the street to honor Abbot Kinney. The renaming was widely considered as a marketing strategy to commercialize the area and bring new high-end businesses to the area.
Venice Farmers Market
72 Market Street Oyster Bar and Grill was one of several historical footnotes associated with Market Street in Venice, one of the first streets designated for commerce when the city was founded in 1905. During the depression era, Upton Sinclair had an office there when he was running for governor, and the same historic building where the restaurant was located was also the site of the first Ace/Venice Gallery in the early 1970s and, before that, the studio of American installation artist Robert Irwin.
Historic post office
The Venice Post Office, a red-tile-roofed 1939 Works Progress Administration building designed by Louis A. Simon on Windward Circle, featured one of two remaining murals painted in 1941 by Modernist artist Edward Biberman. Developer Abbot Kinney is in the center surrounded by beachgoers in old-fashioned bathing suits, men in overalls, and a wooden roller coaster representing the Venice Pier on one side with contrasting industrial oil derricks that were once ubiquitous in the area on the other side. Senior curator of American Art at Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), Ilene Susan Fort, said this is one of the better New Deal murals both artistically and historically. Although it contains brightly colored elements with amusing details, the intrusion of the ominous oil rigs and wells was very relevant at the time.
After the post office closed in 2012, movie producer Joel Silver unveiled plans for revamping the building as the new headquarters of his company, Silver Pictures. The sale included the stipulation that he, or any future owner, preserve the New Deal-era murals and allow public access. Restoration of the nearly pristine mural took over a year and cost about $100,000. LACMA highlighted the mural with an exhibit that displayed additional Biberman artworks, rare historical documents and Venice ephemera with the restored mural. Silver has a long-term lease on the mural that is still owned by the US Postal Service. As of June 2016, the building remains under halted construction, with completion subject to resolution of multiple property liens. The mural’s whereabouts are unknown,putting the lessee in violation of the lease agreement’s public access requirement.
Residences and streets
Many of Venice’s houses have their principal entries from pedestrian-only streets and have house numbers on these footpaths. (Automobile access is by alleys in the rear.) The inland walk streets are made up primarily of around 620 single-family homes. Like much of the rest of Los Angeles, however, Venice is known for traffic congestion. It lies 2 miles (3.2 km) away from the nearest freeway, and its unusually dense network of narrow streets was not planned for modern traffic. Mindful of the tourist nature of much of the district’s vehicle traffic, its residents have successfully fought numerous attempts to extend the Marina Freeway (SR 90) into southern Venice.
Venice Beach, which receives millions of visitors a year, has been labeled as “a cultural hub known for its eccentricities” as well as a “global tourist destination.” It includes the promenade that runs parallel to the beach (also the “Ocean Front Walk” or just “the boardwalk”), Muscle Beach, the handball courts, the paddle tennis courts, Skate Dancing plaza, the numerous beach volleyball courts, the bike trail and the businesses on Ocean Front Walk.
The basketball courts in Venice are renowned across the country for their high level of streetball; numerous professional basketball players developed their games or have been recruited on these courts.
Many Zapotec-speaking people from the town of Tlacolula de Matamoros, Mexico work in stalls along the boardwalk.
Venice Beach will host skateboarding and 3×3 basketball during the 2028 Summer Olympics.
Along the southern portion of the beach, at the end of Washington Boulevard, is the ‘Venice Fishing Pier’. A 1,310-foot (400 m) concrete structure, it first opened in 1964, was closed in 1983 due to El Niño storm damage, and re-opened in the mid-1990s. On December 21, 2005, the pier again suffered damage when waves from a large northern swell caused part of it to fall into the ocean. The pier remained closed until May 25, 2006, when it was re-opened after an engineering study concluded that it was structurally sound.
The Venice Breakwater is an acclaimed local surf spot in Venice. It is located north of the Venice Pier and lifeguard headquarters and south of the Santa Monica Pier. This spot is sheltered on the north by an artificial barrier, the breakwater, consisting of an extending sand bar, piping, and large rocks at its end.
In late 2010, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors conducted a $1.6 million replacement of 30,000 cubic yards of sand at Venice Beach eroded by rainstorms in recent years. Although Venice Beach is located in the city of Los Angeles, the county is responsible for maintaining the beach under an agreement reached between the two governments in 1975.
The Oakwood portion of Venice, also known as “Ghost Town” and the “Oakwood Pentagon,” lies inland from the tourist areas and is one of the few historically African American areas in West Los Angeles; Latinos now constitute the overwhelming majority of the residents. During the age of restrictive covenants that enforced racial segregation, Oakwood was set aside as a settlement area for Black Americans, who came by the hundreds to Venice to work in the oil fields during the 1930s and 1940s. After the construction of the San Diego Freeway, which passed through predominantly Mexican American and immigrant communities, those groups moved further west and into Oakwood where black residents were already established. White-Americans moved into Oakwood during the 1980s and 1990s and Latinos moved out.
By the end of the 20th century, gentrification had altered Oakwood. Although still a primarily Latino and African-American neighborhood, the neighborhood is in flux. According to Los Angeles City Beat, “In Venice, the transformation is… obvious. Homes are fetching sometimes more than $1 million, and homies are being displaced every day.” In 2012, an article in the Los Angeles Timespredicted that the wine shops, cafes, restaurants and other businesses opening on Rose Avenue—adjacent to Oakwood—would soon lead to the other streets of Venice being transformed into upmarket areas. Xinachtli, a Latino student group from Venice High School and subset of MEChA, refers to Oakwood as one of the last beachside communities of color in California. Chicanos, Hispanics, and Latinos of any race or ethnicity make up over 50% of Venice High School’s student body.
East Venice is a racially and ethnically mixed residential neighborhood of Venice that is separated from Oakwood and Milwood (the area south of Oakwood) by Lincoln Boulevard, extending east to the border with the Mar Vista neighborhood, near Venice High School and Santa Monica Municipal Airport. Aside from the commercial strip on Lincoln (including the Venice Boys and Girls Cluband the Venice United Methodist Church), the area almost entirely consists of small homes and apartments as well as Penmar Park and (bordering Santa Monica) Penmar Golf Course. The existing population (primarily composed of Caucasians, Hispanics/Latinos, and Asians, with small numbers of other groups) is being supplemented by new arrivals who have moved in with gentrification.
A housing project, Lincoln Place Apartment Homes, built by the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles is currently undergoing a $140 million renovation to add 99 new market-rate apartment homes and to update the remaining 696 existing homes. A new pool, two-story fitness center, resident park and sustainable landscaping are being added. Aimco, which acquired the property in 2003, had previously been in a legal battle to determine whether or not Lincoln Place could be demolished and rebuilt. In 2010, Aimco settled with tenants and agreed to reopen the project and return scores of evicted residents to their homes and add hundreds of units to the Venice area.
The 2000 U.S. census counted 37,705 residents in the 3.17-square-mile Venice neighborhood—an average of 11,891 people per square mile, about the norm for Los Angeles; in 2008, the city estimated that the population had increased to 40,885. The median age for residents was 35, considered the average for Los Angeles; the percentages of residents aged 19 through 49 were among the county’s highest.
The ethnic breakdown was whites, 64.2%; Latinos, 21.7%; blacks, 5.4%; Asians, 4.1%, and others, 4.6%. Mexico (38.4%) and the United Kingdom (8.5%) were the most common places of birth for the 22.3% of the residents who were born abroad—considered a low figure for Los Angeles.
The median yearly household income in 2008 dollars was $67,647, a high figure for Los Angeles. The percentage of households earning $125,000 was considered high for the city. The average household size of 1.9 people was low for both the city and the county. Renters occupied 68.8% of the housing stock and house- or apartment owners held 31.2%. Property values have been increasing lately due to the presence of technology companies such as Google Inc. (which in 2011 began leasing 100,000 square feet of space in Venice) and Snap Inc. (which leases property on Market Street and Abbot Kinney).
The percentages of never-married men (51.3%), never-married women (40.6%), divorced men (11.3%) and divorced women (15.9%) were among the county’s highest. The percentage of veterans who had served during the Vietnam War was among the county’s highest.
Arts and culture
Venice is known as a hangout for the creative and the artistic. In the 1950s and 1960s, Venice became a center for the Beat generation. There was an explosion of poetry and art. Major participants included Stuart Perkoff, John Thomas, Frank T. Rios, Tony Scibella, Lawrence Lipton, John Haag, Saul White, Robert Farrington, Philomene Long, and Tom Sewell.
Designers Charles and Ray Eames had their offices at the Bay Cities Garage on Abbot Kinney Boulevard from 1943 on, when it was still part of Washington Boulevard; Eames products were also manufactured there until the 1950s. The brick building’s interior was redesigned by Frank Israel in 1990 as a creative workspace, opening up the interior and creating sightlines all the way through the building.
Originally located at the Venice home of Pritzker Prize–winning architect and SCI-Arc founder Thom Mayne, the Architecture Gallery was in existence for just ten weeks in 1979 and featured new work by then-emerging architects Frank Gehry, Eric Owen Moss, and Morphosis. Constructed on a long, narrow lot in 1981, the Indiana Avenue Houses/Arnoldi Triplex was designed Frank Gehry in partnership with artists Laddie Dill and Charles Arnoldi.Frank Gehry has designed several well-known houses in Venice, including the Jane Spiller House (completed 1979) and the Norton House (completed 1984) on Venice Beach. In 1994, sculptor Robert Graham designed a fortress-like art studio and residence for himself and his wife, actress Anjelica Huston, on Windward Avenue.