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The Unique History of the Santa Monica Pier

Published on August 4, 2020

The Santa Monica Pier’s history is an unknown story to most. Guest and visitors alike walk these piers (yes, 2 piers side-by-side) and know little of its past except for the well-known “End of the Trail” of the famous Route 66.

The origin of this famous West Coast experience, that now sees over 10 million visitors a year, did not start off like you see it today. The flashing lights of the amusement park, the Pacific Wheel skyline, souvenir shops, arcade fun, midway games, restaurants, and Pier performers are all creations of the Santa Monica Pier’s evolution.

Watch and listen as the Deputy Executive Director of the Santa Monica Pier and Pier Historian, Jim Harris, talk through the years of the Santa Monica Pier on this episode of Throwback Thursdays: Santa Monica Pier by the Santa Monica History Museum with Board Chairman, Rob Schwenker.

How much do you really know about the Santa Monica Pier? This one-on-one history session has it all – transformation, suspense, disaster, relief and drama! Sit back, grab some popcorn, and teleport to Santa Monica in the early years…

Santa Monica Pier History Museum – Throwback Thursdays: Santa Monica Pier

Check out our description breakdown with timestamps below so you can easily scroll forward to a specific topic or rewatch portions of the video!

Time Topic
0:00 Video Start
1:20 Jim Harris introduction
3:25 Santa Monica Pier – Jay Fiondella
4:35 Pier Opening 9/9/09
7:15 “Best fishing in the Bay”
8:55 Amusement Park and Yachts…?
11:25 The Carousel, A National Landmark!
13:15 Santa Monica Pleasure Pier
14:15 La Monica Ballroom
15:35 Yacht Harbor in 1931
20:00 Captain Olaf Olsen & Popeye
23:50 The World’s Greatest Casino on the sea
26:55 Santa Monica Lifeguards
28:37 The Greatest Water Men
31:35 Santa Monica “Pier” Arch Sign
33:40 The Paddle Boarding Experience
41:35 The Merry Go-Round since 1947
44:55 The King of Western Swing
47:20 Save the Santa Monica Pier
56:15 The BIG storm of ’83
1:02:35 The rebuild, Pacific Park, and Twilight
1:05:40 Pier economy changes with Pier Events
1:08:14 “The Soul of the Pier”
1:09:00 Q&A with Jim Harris
1:19:19 Video End