Living on the Venice Canals for the past 3 years has been such a great experience. An area of L.A. that 10 years ago I barely knew anything about, the canals has now become near and dear to my heart. With it being such a popular tourist destination, I get asked A LOT of questions about the canals. The fact is, there's a lot of history about the canals, most that you probably didn't know. Check out below some of the most fascinating facts about the historic Venice Beach Canals, and how to get here!
1) The Venice Canals were built in 1905.
Opening day was on the 4th of July, 1905! Yes, they're over 100 years old. When they were first built, they were originally for families to come for vacation or for weekends, which is why the homes were smaller and mostly just meant as boat houses. There's still a lot of houses that are original and you can tell they were meant to be boat houses!
2) There's 6 canals, and each one has a name.
There’s actually 6 canals and they’re all named: Eastern Canal + Grand Canal run north to south and make the two borders, Linney Canal, Sherman Canal, Howland Canal, and Carroll Canal are the four that run perpendicular to Eastern and Grand making a 2 mile loop.
3) The Venice Beach Canals are a replica of the Italian version.
The streets around the area are appropriately named things like “Rialto” for the Rialto Bridge. Grand Canal is named after the Canal Grande which is the biggest canal in Venice, Italy. There used to be gondolas for visitors to rent and take rides in.
4) We have annual boat parades.
If you're lucky enough to live on the Venice Canals like I am, you get to participate in bi-annual boat parades every year for Christmas and the 4th of July. Every year resident's deck out their canoes and kayaks and get to participate. There's even prizes for the fastest wind powered boat (no paddles!).
5) Abbot Kinney built them.
Most people don't even know this, but Abbot Kinney was an actual person. That's who essentially built the whole canal system and most of modern day Venice Beach as we all know it now. The famous street now known as "Abbot Kinney" was named after him. He came to California with tobacco money from New Jersey in the early 1900's and fell in love with Venice, like most people do :)
6) They used to be MUCH bigger.
The original Venice Canals were around a 7 mile long loop, but the Venice Canals have had various points of falling into ruin since they were built in 1905. In 1929 at the beginning of the Great Depression, half of them were filled in with concrete, due to the rise in popularity of cars. The remaining canals were almost filled in entirely in the 80's over budget fights who would foot the cost to repair them. Thankfully, they weren't, and eventually they reopened in 1993 with the way they look today. Windward circle used to all be water up to where the Venice Sign is. It was called "The Lagoon", with each street stemming from it being canals. The entire area between Abbot Kinney, Pacific, and Venice Blvd. were originally water canals.
These canals were:
- Coral Canal (now Main St.)
- Cabrillo Canal (now Cabrillo Ave.)
- Venus Canal (now San Juan Ave.)
- Lion Canal (now Windward Ave.)
- Altair Canal (now Altair St.)
- Aldebaren Canal (now Market St.)
- Grand Canal (now Grand Boulevard)
How to get here:
The canals are easy to find. They are just off of the beach - one block east of Pacific Ave. between Venice blvd. and Washington Blvd. I would recommend start on one end and walking through to the other. Use the map below to get you here.