1942 - Scene of the tidal damage at Venice

Venice Beach, 1940

As I’ve mentioned before, one can spend quite a bit of time lost in the digitized photography archives hosted by the digital library at the University of Southern California. It’s the single best resource I’ve found for large- and medium- format Los Angeles photography.

1940 - People frolic on the beach near the roller coaster in the amusement park at Venice Beach
1940 – People frolic on the beach near the roller coaster in the amusement park at Venice Beach

Wherever possible, I try to look for ways to group photographs together. I recently found this same same beach scene is represented in a series of three images from the LA Examiner collection, forming a series of photos spanning three years.

The first photo is from 1940. It shows a healthy broad sand-covered beach. A year later, the beach is gone; not just underwater, but completely washed away.

1941 - Shore line looking north from 25th avenue, Venice, showing damage to beach done by high tides
1941 – Shore line looking north from 25th avenue, Venice, showing damage to beach done by high tides

When viewed together, they illustrate the extent of the erosion that once afflicted the stretch of sand between Windward Avenue and Venice Boulevard. This area, located to the south of the tract owned by the Abbot Kinney Company, was originally known as Short Line Beach. It took its name from the railway that once occupied the center of Venice Boulevard, the “Venice Short Line.”

By 1941, civil engineering blunders had created an ocean current that threatened to strip away the soil from the shore.

1942 - Scene of the tidal damage at Venice
1942 – Scene of the tidal damage at Venice

The final photo shows the tidal erosion had crept all the way to Ocean Front Walk, taking with it at least one of the umbrella-shaped sun shades that once lined the pedestrian thoroughfare. I’m sure the war effort – and civil defense planning – hindered attention to this disaster. It’s still something to see it in action.

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Tom Cornyn

I'm just a regular guy. I eat tires.

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