American Guide #33 Venice (California) Canals


   The Venice Canal Historic District is a district in the Venice section of Los Angeles, California. The district is noteworthy for its man-made canals built in 1905 by developer Abbot Kinney as part of his Venice of America plan. Kinney sought to recreate the appearance and feel of Venice,

Well so much for the official historical version. Now let me get at it, straight outta Venice, CA  from a local’s perspective. The Venice Canals of the 1950s,60s,70s and even 80s was a neglected and secluded area of the urban Los Angeles sprawl. The canal area was were hippies, bikers , artists and other non-conformists resided to escape “the man” and all the trappings of “the establishment”.

The most notorious of the residents were The Heathens, a violent 1% motorcycle gang that often fought with the Hells Angels and LAPD.  As a youth bent on excitement and adventure I often found my way through the canals. A favorite and much-anticipated event of Venice was the Canal Festival were all the freaks basically freaked out in an orgy of music, sex, booze and dope.  Many musicians played and a favorite were the Canalagators. Well this scene has been long gone but the canals of Venice, CA are still here for all to enjoy. A real unique piece of Los Angeles history!

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