Venice, which was originally called Venice of America and designed by a wealthy developer to echo the character of the Italian city of that name, never quite became what it was intended to become. The developer designed and dug out many canals out of the area’s marshland in the early 1900’s, around which homes were built, joined by sidewalks along the waterways and attractive bridges periodically joining the banks. Despite their aesthetic qualities, over time many of them were abandoned and neglected, and ultimately turned into roads at around the beginning of the Great Depression. The rest had become decrepit and sometimes even unsafe by the middle of the twentieth century. They remained like that until the 1990’s when developers renovated the remaining canals and transformed that part of Venice into an attractive, pricey neighborhood as well as a draw for tourists who want to escape the urban noise and hustle for a while. Sidewalks line both banks of the canals, which are accessible to small, paddled boats such as canoes and even gondolas. Fish and waterfowl have taken up residence there as well, and the area has been registered as a historical landmark.
The rest of Venice has a similar story of aspiration, neglect, and restoration. The beach area was founded and originally developed alongside the canal district with the same hopes of creating a second Venice Italy, but, around the 1950’s, due to competition from other areas such as Santa Monica, and neglect by the government of Los Angeles, the area decayed and became slum-like and dangerous for residents and visitors. Tourists continued to visit Venice Beach for its unique multicultural character that resembled a third-world marketplace replete with artists, fortune-tellers, acrobats and open-air merchants, but to a lesser degree due to its reputation for not being safe, especially as evening approaches. Later, Venice took another hit when two gangs claimed the area and the level of violence and crime increased. Since until somewhat recently relatively few people wanted to live in Venice due to the perceived dangers and overall lack of development, Venice was like Santa Monica’s poor neighbor. This has attracted a multicultural group of people as well as a large number of artists, some of whose works are on display in the form of murals on the sides of businesses along the boardwalk and other public places. To this day, the arts have a strong presence in Venice, much of which are influenced by the surfing culture that has been part of the region for many decades.
More recently, Venice has been a target for renovation and development. Large tech companies have been setting up offices, including the northern California outfit boasting the search engine whose name has become synonymous for searching on the Internet. Some have already given the area the nickname “Silicon Beach” because of the influx of these companies. This inevitably will cause property values and rents to rise and will force some of the residents and businesses there to leave, but for now the area has held on to its somewhat bohemian character, and in the evenings the occasional gunfire can be heard.
Our office is about eight and a half miles from Venice. Venice employees who feel that they have been wrongfully terminated, sexually harassed, or otherwise denied their rights as employees can contact our office for a free consultation.