Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Beach culture in Santa Monica

Santa Monica has always been about the beach, water and fun. People want to swim, bath, eat ice cream, play, and make movies on the beach in Santa Monica.

Composite photograph of ships and the Long Wharf freight pier built by the Southern Pacific Railroad Company in 1893

A founder of the Santa Monica area, John P. Jones whose wealth came from gold and silver mining, wanted to become wealthier by establishing Santa Monica bay and City as a commercial center with the Long Wharf and railway service. At another point the state and Santa Monica City Council explored turning the beach and bay into a causeway of connected islands in the 1960s. The City Manager Perry Scott went to the City Council in the mid-to-late 60s two times hoping to develop the area commercially with an "Santa Monica Island" in the bay. Fortunately, none of these bids to commercialize the bay or town passed and our beach is dedicated to fun in the sun.

First graduating class from Santa Monica High School 1886

The first group of student to graduate from Santa Monica High School had their class portrait on the beach in 1886.
Famed gymnast Paula Boelsems flying toward Lyle Lytell on Muscle Beach 1941
The beach became a mecca for health and fun seekers. Following the financial crash in 1929 that began the Depression, the City of Santa Monica elected to use Work Projects Administration (WPA) funds to employ locals to build a park at the beach south of the Santa Monica Pier. The climate attracted gymnasts and wrestlers initially. In the 1940s, weightlifters started bringing equipment to work out. This is when the area became known as "Muscle Beach." The spectacle attracted people from far and wide.

Santa Monica Beach 1940
There is debate over the origin of two-person beach volleyball. Some say Hawaii is the home. But, many believe the game originated on Santa Monica Beach in the 1930s.
Hoola hoops at the Beach Library

Jeff Kaplan and Kane Tsai, both librarians at Santa Monica Public Library, designed and rolled out the first-ever pop-up Beach Library June through August 2015. The program;  "At the Beach," hosts events for visitors including hoola-hooping, crafts, storytime, a chance to get out of the sun with a book and more.
Visit the Library at the Beach Saturday, August 15 at Dorothy Green Park, where Ocean Park Blvd. ends or Friday, August 28 at Annenberg Community Beach House, 415 Pacific Coast Hwy! See you on the beach-