A saunter along Venice’s canals is well worth the effort. Soaked by generous rain, the flowers are now blooming in profusion, mirrored in the calm waters, backlit by the spring sun.
The original Venice canals were built in 1905 and stretched 16 miles through our community. The wide roads running to the traffic circle were once canals including San Juan Avenue, Market Street, Main Street and Grand Boulevard.
Unfortunately the canals didn’t always flush as intended. After annexation by the city of Los Angeles, despite a lawsuit that worked its way to the California Supreme Court, most of the canals were filled beginning in 1929 to accommodate increasing auto traffic.
The mile and a half of canals south of Venice were only half developed. Some say that they were saved by the Depression. But, by the 1960’s, the remaining canals were very run down.
Venice historian Jeffrey Stanton told me that the reason they attracted artists and bohemians was that the rent was cheap. “Back then, you could rent a canal house for $30 a month.”
In the 1980’s they were renovated. Today the homes are a collection of modest bungalows next to architecturally stunning multi-million dollar homes.
To answer one reader who asked if the canals connected to the ocean, the answer is yes. If you walk Grand Canal south to Washington Boulevard and keep going past the Baja Cantina, over the gate at Washington Boulevard, past the bridge where Orson Wells breathed his last in the film “Touch of Evil” you’ll follow the canal to the main channel of Marina del Rey which leads to the sea.
Spring is a perfect time to walk this quiet neighborhood. I’ve posted a photo montage from a recent walk I took, and I encourage you to amble through this part of our seaside community.