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General information

Welcome to 100+ years of Venice History
The Venice Historical Society, a non-profit organization, is
dedicated to preserving Venice's rich and unique history.

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If it hadn't been for Abbot Kinney's asthma, Venice may never have been founded. Kinney, born 1850 in Brookside, New Jersey, was on a three year trip around the world when a snowstorm prevented his return to the east coast. He journeyed, instead, to Sierra Madre and was so impressed by the climate he developed a citrus ranch called Kinneloa.

After his marriage in 1884, Kinney began purchasing land to the south with Francis Ryan. The partners developed Ocean Park with a walk pier and a country club. A streetcar line was extended to the site.

After Ryan's untimely death in 1898, and a succession of partners with whom Kinney couldn't agree, it was decided that the land speculator would toss a coin and the winner would choose which half of the district would be his. When Kinney won the toss, he startled the other four partners by choosing the barren, marshy property. Kinney soon announced that his sand dunes and marshland would soon be a cultural city patterned after Venice, Italy. The public laughed and dubbed the plan "Kinney's Folly".

They stopped laughing when trenches for canals were dug and Venetian-patterned buildings began to spring up. By July 4, 1905, Venice-of-America officially opened with a wonderful pier and exciting attractions: Italian gondoliers poling their boats down fairy-lit canals, a concert orchestra supplying music that could be heard nearly all over town, camel rides, exotic hotels catering to the best tastes and a miniature railroad circling the entire scene.

The cultural diversion never flourished in Venice. The public came to ride the camels and the little train and to see the sideshow. The Doge of Venice-of America had built a cultural Renaissance by the sea.

This atmosphere still prevails today.


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Permission to use must be obtained from the VHS Board or respective authors.s