Huntington Beach Pier

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Huntington Beach Municipal Pier
Huntington Pier Terminus.jpg
Location Main St. and Pacific Coast Highway
Huntington Beach, California
Coordinates 33°39′18″N 118°00′15″W / 33.655093°N 118.004193°W / 33.655093; -118.004193Coordinates: 33°39′18″N 118°00′15″W / 33.655093°N 118.004193°W / 33.655093; -118.004193
Architect Moffatt & Nichol Engineers
NRHP Reference # 89001203
Added to NRHP August 24, 1989

The Huntington Beach Pier is a municipal pier located in Huntington Beach, California. It is located at the end of Main Street, where the street continues past Pacific Coast Highway onto the beach and becomes the pier. At 1,850 feet (560 m) in length, it is one of the longest public piers on the West Coast. (The longest is Oceanside Pier at 1,942 feet (592 m)). The pier is 100 feet (30 m) above sea level. The pier is on the California Register of Historical Resources.[1] One of the main landmarks of Huntington Beach, also known as "Surf City, USA", the pier is the center of the city's prominent beach culture. A popular meeting place for surfers, the ocean waves here are enhanced by a natural effect caused by the edge-diffraction of open ocean swells around Catalina Island, creating consistent surf year-round.


The Pier from a boat
The Pier from the air

The pier was built even before Huntington Beach was an official town. At the time, the land was owned by a business called Huntington Beach Company, which decided to build a pier in 1903. It was made completely out of wood and extended 1,000 feet (300 m) into the ocean. In 1912, it was damaged for the first time by a severe storm that caused a large portion of it to plunge into the Pacific. Fortunately, the city council at the time was already considering rebuilding the pier. A $70,000 bond was approved to construct a new pier made of concrete that would be 1,350 feet (410 m) long. In 1914, the Huntington Beach Pier set a record as the longest and highest concrete pleasure pier in the United States. In 1930, the city extended the pier by 500 feet (150 m) and added a cafe at the end. However, this last section was not built well and was separated from the original pier by an earthquake in 1933. Although the city paved over the gap, a rare California hurricane destroyed the cafe and extended section in 1939. Reconstruction of the pier and End Cafe (what the cafe came to be called) was completed the year later. After the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941, Huntington Beach, along with many other coastal cities, became involved in the World War II effort. The U.S. navy took over the pier for military use by installing a submarine lookout post at the end along with a heavy caliber machine gun. When the war was over, all military equipment was removed and the pier was returned to the citizens. The pier did not face any trouble for the next four decades, until 1983 when another storm destroyed the end of the pier and End Cafe again, and once again in 1988 after another reconstruction. That year, a company called Fluor/Daniel Consultants of Irvine conducted a study on the structural stability of the pier and as a result, the pier was declared unsafe and was closed in July of that year. In an effort to raise funds to rebuild the pier, a group of citizens formed an organization called P.I.E.R. (Persons Interested in Expediting Reconstruction). The organization raised over $100,000 by selling t-shirts and other merchandise with the P.I.E.R. logo. Another $92,000 was donated by the people of Anjo, Japan, one of Huntington Beach's sister cities. With this money, construction of a new pier began in October 1990. The pier was completed and opened on July 18, 1992 at 1,856 feet (566 m) in length. A ribbon-cutting ceremony was performed to dedicate the pier. By the end of the grand opening day, over 500,000 people had come to visit the new pier. Due to the pier's rough history, the city has established careful management and observation to keep the pier lasting long into the future. [2]

The pier was added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) on August 24, 1989, deeming the structure worthy of preservation by the federal government. This allows the city of Huntington Beach to qualify for tax incentives derived from the total value of expenses incurred preserving the pier.


The design of the pier replicates the architectural form of the original 1914 structure. The new concrete pier uses reinforced steel, coated with epoxy, to protect it from the corrosive effect of the damp salt air. It is also built to withstand 31-foot (9.4 m) waves or a 7.0 magnitude earthquake and uses an increased space between piles to accommodate surfers - as requested by the City. The pier slopes gently up toward the seaward end in a straight line which alternates with three octagonal platforms and one rotated square (108 feet on a side) that forms a diamond at the pier's seaward end. Not only is the pier structurally sound, it also retains a number of design elements from the original pier including haunches at the pile caps and corbels supporting light standards.

Uses and features[edit]

The pier is frequented by sport fishermen as well as surfing spectators. Ruby's Diner has been located at the end of the pier since 1993.[3] Mostly used by locals and tourists for strolls and scenic views, the curfew for the pier is at midnight, which is two hours after the beach closes. During these times, beach patrols clear the area and disallow people from entering the pier. Prohibited on the pier are riding bikes and skateboards, smoking, and possession and/or consumption of drugs or alcohol. The Beach Headquarters provides beach conditions and surf reports updated throughout the day online at the city's website and at an automated phone line (714-536-9303). The reports include surf, water, wind, and tide information such as surf height, water temperature, and wind speed, and high and low tide times.

Special events[edit]

The famous annual U.S. Open of Surfing is held on the south side of the pier every summer, hosted by Vans and formerly sponsored by companies such as Hurley, Nike, Converse, and others. It is the largest surfing competition in the world and typically lasts one week. As part of the event, notable people in the world of surfing are also inducted into the Surfing Walk of Fame and the Surfers' Hall of Fame, both located directly across from the pier. These are sections of Main Street that honor the surfers. The Surfing Walk of Fame has plaques embedded into the sidewalk, while the Surfers' Hall of Fame has hand prints.[4]

Sunset on Sunday, 9/7/14 at Huntington Beach Pier

The pier also features many other events throughout the year, though most occur in the summer. Many other surfing competitions are held here like the PSA, NASSA, and CSA. Tournaments are also held for other sports such as volleyball, wrestling, BMX, kite flying, paintballing, and fishing. Races and marathons such as the Surf City Marathon & Half Marathon, which is held every Super Bowl Sunday and the Surf City 10, which is in October pass by the pier. The city also hosts an Annual Pier Swim and Rough Water Swim in which participants have to swim around the pier. There are also fireworks and parades to celebrate the Fourth of July.[5]


Live cameras are set up at the Huntington Beach Pier and shown on screens at the California-themed Hollister apparel stores. The store pays the city for the cameras, with the money used to fund marine safety equipment. The cameras are also used by lifeguards.[6]

Film and television[edit]

Huntington Beach and its pier have been popular locations for films and television shows. The well-known young adult show "90210" from The CW has paid a few visits, including filming beach scenes with the actress Gillian Zinser. The pier is also one of the filming locations for the new NBC show Betty White's Off Their Rockers, selected due to the large masses of younger people who frequent the area. The area has also been featured in the Bravo show, The Real Housewives of Orange County.[7]


  1. ^ "California Historical Resources". California State Parks, Office of Historic Preservation. Retrieved May 7, 2012. 
  2. ^ Sherwood, Wayne. "Pier into the Past". Huntington Beach Magazine. 
  3. ^ Mellen, Greg (September 22, 2016). "City OKs deal with Ruby's Diner". Huntington Beach Wave. The Orange County Register. p. 1. 
  4. ^ "Info". IMG Action Sports. 
  5. ^ "Beach Information". City of Huntington Beach. 
  6. ^ Burris, Annie (August 4, 2008). "Hollister wants 7 more cameras under Surf City pier". The Orange County Register. Retrieved August 2, 2011. 
  7. ^ Chang, Richard. "'The Real Housewives of O.C.' are back for more". The Orange County Register.