Look around. The sky. The water. The sand. The tourists. The food. The mountains. The fishermen (and women). The seagulls. The trapeze artists—wait, the trapeze artists? Ahhhh… you’re on the Santa Monica Pier. Where else could you possibly want to be on a July day? Whether a lifelong Angeleno or a first-time visitor to the Los Angeles area, you gotta set foot on the Santa Monica Pier in the summer.
The Santa Monica Pier celebrated her 100th birthday on September 9, 2009. She’s (yes, I know intuitively she is a female) looking pretty good for her age. The birthday was a splendiferous affair with fireworks that attracted thousands of people from all over Los Angeles.
On a daily basis the pier serves up delightful entertainment or a place to unwind, depending on your needs at the moment. I grew up in two beach towns in England, Brighton and Worthing, where a trip to the pier was a part of life. I had no idea there were people in the world who had never seen the ocean or enjoyed a pier.
A pier allows mortal humans to walk on water. You look below and there is the ocean—the Pacific Ocean no less. How exciting is that?
But a pier is more than merely being at the beach. There is the merry-go-round, the fortune teller for a quarter, souvenir refrigerator magnets for five dollars, and did I mention the trapeze artists? At the Santa Monica Pier, trapezeschool.com will accommodate your dreams of flying through the air with the greatest of ease. Aaaargh… I feel sick just watching a mother and son combo having “fun.” Maybe they are just shills to get customers but I like to think they are for real.
During the summer the pier offers a Twilight Dance Series on Thursday nights with artists from all over the world. I attended one concert with Eric Burdon (formerly of the English rock group The Animals), and so many people showed up I was afraid the pier would collapse.
In 1973, like many other landmarks in southern California, the pier was determined to be past its useful years. There was a plan afoot to demolish the pier and build a man-made island to replace it. The citizens of Santa Monica were outraged and came to the rescue of the pier.
However, ten years later a storm destroyed one third of the pier. By 1990 the pier was restored and in 1996 Pacific Park opened offering the first full-scale amusement park since the 1930s.
The Santa Monica Pier attracts over four million visitors annually. And I am happy to be one of them.
To get there by bus go to http://www.metro.net/, put in your starting address then Colorado Avenue/Ocean Avenue.
You’ll have a fabulous day!
(All photos copyright roslyn m wilkins)