My new guilty pleasure is Beyonce’s XO video. It was filmed at the Coney Island Amusement Park in Brooklyn, New York. People flocked to this spot during the first half of the 20th century, but after the Second World War there was a drastic decline in attendance… and then there was hurricane Sandy that caused a great deal of damage.
I came to the realization that I probably liked Beyonce’s video because it reminded me so much of the vintage carnival feel down in Santa Monica. I visited California in January and spent some time hanging around Muscle Beach, Venice Beach and the Santa Monica Pier.
Coney Island and Santa Monica look pretty similar, don’t they?
I haven’t been to Coney Island but I can tell you a bit about Santa Monica Pier.
Music, sweet smelling churros, tattoo shops, unique artists and locals left my senses in a whirl. The Santa Monica Pier, created in 1909, is famous for it’s iconic ferris wheel. The pier was once a place for frequent fishers, yet after an amusement park and carousel were built, it grew in popularity. Fifty thousand people were in attendance at the grand opening of the La Monica ballroom in 1924. This was the biggest ballroom in the world at the time, but was unsuccessful due to the great depression.
During the depression, a retired sailor donated a portion of his catch to feed hungry families. The man’s name was Olaf C. Olsen and he was the inspiration behind the comic character Popeye.
In the mid-1930s Charlie Chaplain became one of the first owners of a spot to house his watercraft at the new Yacht Harbour. Santa Monica’s pop culture flair would continue throughout the century.
Water sports thrived and after the war had ended, once again, the pier became an entertainment hot spot.
Artists and activists poured into the community during the 60s. Then, decades later, a tragic winter storm tore off a third of the pier. Much work was invested in rebuilding and revitalizing this historic treasure. Remaining true to it’s history, Santa Monica pier is certainly a place for everyone. Catch a bite to eat. Some seafood or a delicious funnel cake, perhaps. Whether you’re interested in fishing, riding the roller coaster, playing a few carnival games or relaxing at sunset, Santa Monica is definitely one of LA’s must see hot spots.
This place is magical. Wish I could go back.
Missing you, California.