1907 Stanton1987

Jeffrey Stanton Venice of America: 'Coney Island of the Pacific,' Donahue Publishing: Los Angeles, CA, 1987, 176 pp., 1920s, 1911, 1908, 1907

Chapter 2: Coney Island of the Pacific (1907-1912)

     "In the spring of 1907, Venice of America and Ocean Park, two sections of the city with opposing business interests were experiencing a series of muted differences. Neither the Marine Street businessmen led by G.M. Jones in Ocean Park, nor the Kinney people in Venice dared risk an open feud because it would be bad for business. The basic problem was that two rival communities were growing up in one municipality.

     "Venice in 1907 was part of the city of Ocean Park which had previously dis-incorporated from the city of Santa Monica several years before. The issue had been over differences in attitudes among Santa Monica citizens dealing with gambling and serving alcoholic beverages in the Ocean Park pier district.

     "There was a power struggle going on between Kinney and Ocean Park's five man Board of Trustees, two of whom were his ex-partners. At first their tactics were subtle; they provided less than adequate police, fire protection and garbage collection in the Venice of America area. When the citizens passed a bond issue to finance the City Hall, Kinney offered several land parcels that would have been fairly central to the community. Instead the trustees accepted a 10 acre site offered by David Evans, a partner of Mayor Burke. The land was in Venice's outback . . . Despite an unofficial straw vote by the property owners in favor of an alternative site, the Trustees paid Evans $5,000 for the property and awarded the building contract to a contractor in May.

     "Meanwhile Kinney . . . decided to consolidate . . . his two amusement areas . . . on the beach.

     "When he applied for a construction permit for his bath house, the Board of Trustees refused to act. Several of them, who owned the Ocean Park Bath house, a mile north of Windward Avenue, were accused of being afraid of the competition. . . . Kinney . . . ordered his men to pour the concrete foundations for his new bathhouse." p. 36

     "The Trustees were infuriated. They immediately pulled the licenses for Kinney's tent city, and ordered it removed. His liquor licenses were revoked, dancing was banned in the pier ballroom, and Marshall G.G. Watt was instructed to remove the foundation of the bathhouse by whatever means possible.

     "The bathhouse foundation was scheduled for demolition by dynamite on Monday, June 10, 1907, a day when the beach crowds would be gone. Marshall Watt posted the necessary warning signs. But early that morning women and children began arriving with picnic baskets. At 9:30 a.m. Watt ordered them to disperse-they didn't move. Soon more than 200 women, mostly from the Pick and Shovel Club, a civic club of which Mrs. Kinney was an ardent supporter, were picnicking on the uncompleted walls . . .

     "George Culver, city street superintendent, who was to perform the demolition, . . . at noon gave up . . . and the city Trustees did not attempt to demolish it again.

     " . . . the incident focused attention on Jones' boss rule and the corrupt Board of Trustees.

     "Kinney's strategy was to dis-incorporate . . .

     " . . .

     " . . . the dis-incorporation election was held on September 30, 1907. . . The election was fought bitterly by both sides." p.31

     "Ocean Park forces won a hollow victory. Although Kinney's supporter's were clearly dominant, 206 to 176, they couldn't muster the necessary two thirds majority to dis-incorporate. The city government began to fall apart shortly thereafter, as several Trustees resigned under duress for their involvement in police department corruption. Kinney got his revenge in the 1908 spring elections. His Good Government League candidates forced the remainder of the Ocean Park supported Trustees out of office and controlled the Board of Trustees into the early 1920's.

     "It would be another three years, in another election before voters would finally change the name of their city officially to Venice. By 1911, . . . " p.33

     [In 1907 a concert by Placido Gilgi's sixteen piece band at Kinney's Midway Plaisance, where all the buildings had been painted white. "The attractions included Leora's trapeze act, and Tarasca's daring bicycle ride in which he rode down a steep ramp to gain enough speed to leap through a circle of fire, then across a 36 foot wide gap.] p. 33

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 Kelyn Roberts 2017