Venice Beach has a long and colorful reputation as a haven for artists, writers, musicians, architects and youthful trendsetters and stylemakers. It was born in 1905, when tobacco tycoon Abbott Kinney set out to recreate a resort and amusement center inspired by its Italian namesake. He built a series of canals, which were to become the signature of the neighborhood, and remain the site of some of the most interesting and eclectic architecture in Los Angeles. Many of the canals were filled in during the depression, but the six that remain today are loved by those who seek the quiet privacy of the pedestrian-only paths that lead to their homes. Kinney also built a lively, bustling amusement pier, considered the best on the West Coast in its time. Although the amusement park hasn’t survived, the town still retains an echo of the carnival feeling and exuberant energy of its past. The Venice Boardwalk, including the legendary Muscle Beach, is a vibrant feast for the senses; a walk along the ocean front, full of shops, street performers and vendors, and cafes provides some of the most entertaining people-watching anywhere. Film and television crews are often seen here, using the visually rich Venice scene as a backdrop.
Art has been a community passion in Venice for generations. Initially drawn to the area after the Depression to take advantage of its low rents and laid-back lifestyle, artists, writers, and musicians never stopped flocking to Venice. The early Beat Generation poets of the 1950s created the ultimate hip and happening atmosphere, which continued to attract the psychedelic movement of the 60s and still beckons to trendy and stylish celebrities and innovative businesses like animation, web design and architecture. The annual Venice Art Walk is a highly anticipated event that features access to dozens of art studios, pop-up art galleries and a silent auction that benefits the Venice Family Clinic, the largest free clinic in the country. The Venice Skate Park on the beach is one of the finest of its kind.
Venice offers a diverse choice of living options and neighborhoods, each with a personality of its own: The Canals, Windward Circle, Oakwood and The Beach, to name a few, all have active community groups. Main Street is a major thoroughfare and gathering spot for shopping, dining, and nightlife; Abbott Kinney is a favorite stretch of antique shops, galleries and restaurants; and The Boardwalk is a daily hangout for beach lovers. Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, and local travel are easily accessed by surface streets, and the nearby 10 and 405 freeways make getting to LAX and Downtown LA relatively uncomplicated.
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