Santa Monica Pier
Landmark entrance to the Santa Monica Pier.
|Locale||Santa Monica, California
|Opening date||September 9, 1909|
|Designated||August 17, 1976|
The pier contains Pacific Park, a family amusement park with its one-of-a-kind, state-of-the-art, solar-paneled Ferris wheel. (This should not be confused with Pacific Ocean Park, a former amusement park a few miles south of Santa Monica Pier, which operated from 1958 to 1967 and is now demolished.)
It also has an original carousel hippodrome from the 1920s, the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium operated by Heal the Bay, shops, entertainers, a video arcade, a trapeze school, pubs, and restaurants. The west end of the pier is a popular location for anglers.
During the summer months the pier is venue to weekly outdoor concerts, movies, and other family friendly activities that are free to the public.
Santa Monica has had several piers over the years; however, the current Santa Monica Pier is actually two adjoining piers that long had separate owners. The long, narrow Municipal Pier opened September 9, 1909, primarily to carry sewer pipes beyond the breakers, and had no amenities. The short, wide adjoining Pleasure Pier to the south, a.k.a. Newcomb Pier, was built in 1916 by Charles I. D. Looff and his son Arthur, amusement park pioneers. Attractions on the Pleasure Pier eventually included the Santa Monica Looff Hippodrome building (which now houses the current carousel and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places), the Blue Streak Racer wooden roller coaster (which was purchased from the defunct Wonderland amusement park in San Diego), the Whip, merry-go-rounds, Wurlitzer organs, and a funhouse.
The Carousel was built in 1922 on what was often referred to as a Pleasure Pier and features 44 hand-carved horses. It was rebuilt in 1990 inside the Hippodrome. A calliope provides musical accompaniment.
The La Monica Ballroom, designed by T.H. Eslick with a Spanish façade and French Renaissance interior, opened on July 23, 1924. It was the largest dance hall on the west coast, accommodating 5,000 dancers on its 15,000-square-foot (1,400 m2) hard maple floor. In 1948, country music star Spade Cooley began broadcasting his weekly television show from the ballroom, where the enormously popular program remained until 1954. During the summer of 1955, the Hollywood Autocade opened in the La Monica with one-hundred famous and unusual cars, including Jack Benny’s Maxwell and a Rumpler Drop Car. From 1958 until 1962, the ballroom served as a roller skating rink; first as Skater's Ballroom and then Santa Monica Roller Rink, where the speed skating club won many state and regional championships. The 'La Monica Ballroom' was demolished in 1963.
The Pleasure Pier thrived during the 1920s but faded during the Great Depression. During the 1930s, the pier was mainly used as a ferry landing, while most of the amusement park facilities were closed down and its attractions sold off.
The bridge and entry gate to Santa Monica Pier were built in 1938 by the federal Works Project Administration, and replaced the former grade connection.
The Newcomb Pier was privately owned until it was acquired by the city in 1974. During the 1960s and 1970s various plans were proposed that would entail removal of the pier. The strangest one called for the construction of an artificial island with a 1500-room hotel. It was approved by the City Council, but citizens formed "Save Santa Monica Bay" to preserve the pier. The outstanding order to raze the pier was revoked by the city council in 1973. Within that same year, the Carousel and Hippodrome were memorable sets featured in the film The Sting, although the story was set in Chicago.
In the 1950s, Enid Newcomb suggested to family friend Morris "Pops" Gordon that his two sons, George and Eugene, purchase and operate the Pier’s arcade. It didn’t take much persuasion, for the Gordons instantly took to the Pier and ultimately made Playland Arcade into the Pier’s longest running enterprise offering the day’s contemporary games alongside those of yesterday, providing inexpensive entertainment to a diverse crowd. George’s daughters Marlene and Joanie have kept the business within the family, and the next generation of Gordons is already in training to maintain the family tradition.
In 1983, the Santa Monica Pier experienced a significant loss. On January 27, there were reported swells of 10-feet during this winter storm. When the storm was over, the lower deck of the pier was destroyed. The City of Santa Monica began repairs on March 1, 1983, when another storm rolled in. A crane which was being used to repair the west end was dragged into the water and acted as a battering ram against the pilings. Over one-third of the Pier was completely destroyed.
The City of Santa Monica created a non-profit in response to the damage and called it Santa Monica Pier Restoration Corporation (SMPRC). SMPRC conducted the daily operations of the Santa Monica Pier, such as managing events, filming, promotions, tenants, and street performers. To date, SMPRC has produced the Santa Monica Pier Paddle Board Race and the Twilight Summer Concert Series. Also, in 2011, SMPRC changed the company name to the Santa Monica Pier Corporation (SMPC).
In popular culture
Films which prominently used the Santa Monica Pier include Tillie's Punctured Romance, Quicksand, Elmer Gantry, 1941 (film), The Opposite of Sex, They Shoot Horses, Don't They?, Night Tide, Bean, The Sting, A Night at the Roxbury, Miracle Beach, Titanic, The Lost Boys, Forrest Gump (there is a Bubba Gump Shrimp Company Restaurant on the pier, owned by the company that produced the film), Not Another Teen Movie, Iron Man, Desperate Teenage Lovedolls, Dark Ride, Cellular, The Hottie and the Nottie, Ruthless People (the pier is the site of the movie's climactic final scene), Love Stinks, Hancock, the indie romantic comedy She Wants Me, and Hannah Montana: The Movie (the scene with Lilly's birthday party). During the earthquake in the movie 2012, the pier can be seen sinking beneath the waves. The 1964 Natalie Wood film Inside Daisy Clover features the pier in the beginning of the picture. The Glenn Miller Story with Jimmy Stewart has a sequence toward the beginning where he goes to the "La Monica Ballroom" for an audition.
- The Incredible Hulk (1978 TV series) episode King of The Beach was filmed there.
- South Park episode "Fishsticks" ends with Kanye West jumping off the Santa Monica Pier to begin a new life as a gay fish.
- The Tonight Show with Jay Leno commercial bumper
- Three's Company, in the opening titles of the fourth and fifth seasons,
- South of Nowhere, in the opening credits and in the episode "Girls Guide to Dating",
- The Suite Life of Zack & Cody episodes The Suite Life Goes To Hollywood Pts. 1/2.
- Life After People episode "Waves of Devastation"
- Rocket Power features a pier very similar to the Santa Monica Pier.
- The Amazing Race this place was the starting line for the fifth season.
- Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, when Cromartie tries to track down John Connor on the Pier, who steals a pair of sunglasses and a cap from a Pier vendor to disguise himself
- Star Trek: Voyager features an episode in which the pier is in the 20th century Los Angeles.
- NCIS: Los Angeles, when the pilot begins with Agent G. Callen waking up in his small apartment overlooking the pier.
- 24, when Jack tracks Fayed to the pier, Gredenko gets shot and dies under the pier.
- Gilmore Girls, when Jess goes to California to find his father. His father works at the pier.
- Flashforward, when Olivia and Charlie are out at the pier without Mark. In the final episode, it also appears briefly in the background in one shot.
- Chuck, when Chuck defuses a car bomb rigged by Laszlo underneath the pier (he first meets Laszlo while playing in one of the arcades on the pier).
- The fourth season of Hannah Montana takes place in Santa Monica instead of the Malibu setting of previous seasons, and the pier is frequently shown as Lilly works at a game booth.
- 90210, where several scenes are shot at the pier throughout the series. The pier is frequently shown whenever the characters visit the pier or the Beverly Hills beach club.
- Welcome to the Family, in Season 1 Episode 1, Pilot
- Grey's Anatomy episodes The Other Side of Life Pts. 1/2.
- Private Practice, where there has been several scenes shot at the pier throughout the series.
- Keeping Up with the Kardashians, where Kris and Khloé met with the BG5 girls.
- Monk, in the episode "Mr. Monk and the Birds and the Bees," where detective Adrian Monk chases a criminal throughout the park, in which he tries to get rid of evidence that could prove him guilty. Eventually, he is arrested after being caught on the pier.
- Eva Luna, in the last episode
- America's Next Top Model, in Cycle 17: All-Stars for episode 5.
- Charlie's Angels episode "The Sandcastle Murders".
- The Mod Squad, in Season 4 Episode 3, "Home is in the Streets"
- Big Time Rush "Nickelodeon TV series".
- Criminal Minds, in Season 8 Episode 7, "The Fallen"
- The Mindy Project, where there were scenes shot only at the pier from episode 13, "LA".
- Touch, where there were several scenes shot at the pier throughout the series.
- Drop Dead Diva, where there were several scenes shot at the pier throughout the series.
- Modern Family, in Season 1, Episode 16, "Fears"
- Midnight Club: Los Angeles
- Tony Hawk's American Wasteland
- Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines
- Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (as the basis of a similar pier)
- Grand Theft Auto V (as the basis of a similar pier)
- "I'll Never Get Over You Getting Over Me" by Expose (1993)
- "Bidi Bidi Bom Bom" by Selena (1994)
- "Tales From The Westside" by Proper Dos (1994)
- "Father of Mine" by Everclear (1998)
- "Clarity" by John Mayer (2003)
- "Almost Lover" by A Fine Frenzy (2007)
- "Bring Our Brothers Home" by MC Hammer (2007)
- "Side 2 Side" by Mr. Criminal (2007)
- "A Headfirst Slide Into Cooperstown On a Bad Bet: A Weekend At Pete Rose's" by Fall Out Boy (2008)
- "Maybe California" by Tori Amos (2009)
- "Let's Get Crazy" by Hannah Montana (2009)
- "Kings & Queens" by Thirty Seconds to Mars (2009)
- "'Til Summer Comes Around" by Keith Urban (2010)
- "Beggin' on Your Knees" by Victoria Justice ft. Victorious Cast (2011)
- "Never Gonna Leave This Bed" by Maroon 5 (2011)
- "Do You Love Me Like You Used To" by Best Coast (2012)
- "The One" by Tamar Braxton (2013)
- "Paper Hearts" by Tori Kelly
Looff Hippodrome on the pier.
View of Santa Monica from the pier.
Ferris wheel light show at night, 2009.
- Santa Monica Pier Aquarium — aquarium on the pier operated by Heal the Bay, and formerly known as the Ocean Discovery Center.
- Pacific Park — the current amusement park portion of the pier.
- Hot Dog on a Stick — original, opened in 1946, found on the sidewalk just south of the pier in front of Muscle Beach.
- Pacific Ocean Park — former (1958–1967) amusement park one pier south of Santa Monica Pier; demolished in 1974.
- The Pike — former (1905-1979) amusement zone along the shoreline of Long Beach, CA, demolished in 1979.
- Santa Monica State Beach — California State Park operated by the City of Santa Monica. Two miles of beach adjacent to the pier.
- Santa Monica bicycle path — path that runs through a bicycle-only underpass under the pier.
- Muscle Beach, originally located just south of the pier.
- Long Wharf (Santa Monica) 1893-1933
- "Designated City Landmarks" (PDF). City of Santa Monica. Retrieved 2013-03-09.
- "L.A. in all its quirky glory on display at Santa Monica Pier". Los Angeles Times. 2009-08-25. Retrieved 2009-08-25.
- Stanton, Jeffrey (1990). Santa Monica Pier: A History from 1875-1990. Donahue Publishing Company. ISBN 978-0961984915.
- Magruder, Melonie. "Pacific Park celebrates 15th birthday". surfsantamonica.com. Retrieved 5 April 2013.
- "S.M. May Go to Court to Seize Newcomb Pier". Los Angeles Times. May 19, 1974. Retrieved 5 April 2013.
- Fanucchi, Kenneth (July 4, 1974). "S.M. Fences Unsafe Newcomb Pier Areas". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 5 April 2013.
- "Save Santa Monica Pier - 1972". BoomersLife.org. Retrieved 2009-09-04.
- "GTA San Andreas Setting/Places - IGN Grand Theft Auto Wiki". Grandtheftauto.ign.com. Retrieved 2009-08-25.
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