The Balboa Pier was constructed in 1906 as a sister project of the Balboa Pavilion. The Newport Bay investment Company wanted to attract lot buyers to an undeveloped spit of sandy land now called the Balboa Peninsula. In order to do so, they built both the Balboa Pavilion and the Balboa Pier. These two structures were built to coincide with the opening of the southern terminus of the Pacific Electric Railway Red Car line from Long Beach to the Balboa Peninsula. The plan worked; multitudes of beachgoers flocked to Balboa and many purchased lots.
The pier is a popular fishing spot. The fish caught from the pier consist mostly of mackerel and flounder. Additionally, the pilings are home to a large population of starfish that feed on the large colonies of mussels growing there, and are easily spotted at low tide. Fishermen catching starfish by mistake are a relatively common sight.
In the 1980s, the first of Orange County's famous Ruby's Diner restaurants opened on the pier. The 1940s nostalgia-themed restaurant has since become a famous Orange County landmark.
The pier was heavily damaged in the severe El Niño storms of 1998, which also destroyed the famous diamond-shaped Aliso Pier in Laguna Beach. One of the pillars was damaged, causing a partial collapse of one corner. The wooden posts have since been reinforced with steel sheathing and braces to prevent further damage.
- http://www.balboapavilion.com/history.html (Section 4c of this article contains photos and data related to the pier).