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Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Santa Monica Pier: The First 100 Years

Wednesday, September 9th, marked the 100 year anniversary of the Santa Monica Pier. The day was filled with various celebrations, culminating with a fireworks show off the pier - the first one since 1991.

Even though we homeschool, Wednesday night was a "school night" for our kids, so we decided to avoid the crowds and traffic at the pier, and watch the fireworks from Palisades Park, overlooking the pier and ocean below. We found a good spot just south of Montana Avenue, with a nice, unobstructed view (above).

From where we were at, the fireworks show was "good, but not great." There was zero wind coming off the ocean, and as a result, much of the fireworks got lost in the large, smoky cloud that formed out over the ocean. Oops. I don't think that was part of the plan.

In many ways, the best part about the night wasn't the fireworks, but the crowd that came out to watch. There were families, kids, parents, grandparents, and (this being in Santa Monica) tons of single adults.

The pier means a lot of different things to different people: a place to fish, people watch, or enjoy the view of the coast and mountains. A place to ride the (relatively tame) roller coaster, impressive Ferris wheel, or historic carousel. Time in the arcade or one of the restaurants. A summer concert or winter sunset.

My guess was Wednesday's crowd wasn't there just for the fireworks, but to celebrate these kinds of memories and the fact that a 100 year old structure is still going strong. In other parts of the country, 100 year old buildings or structures are fairly common. In Los Angeles, they're historic.

As a Christian, I'm reminded of the times God commanded those who look to Him to remember the past. Joshua, the successor to Moses, is perhaps the most obvious example, but there are many others. Not to live in the past, but not to ignore it either. To learn from it, to "remember."

There is a time and a place to celebrate milestones, achievements, and what earlier generations accomplished. For us, the one hundred year anniversary of the Santa Monica Pier was a good reminder of that.

Spencer Weiner Los Angeles Times

Here's a really nice shot from the Los Angeles Times of both the pier and fireworks. Additional photos can be found at:,0,1419253.photogallery

More info on the pier can be found at:


Susan said...

Good job on the pier blog. I liked the photos and perspective of how we need to remember/learn from the past. Well done.

Anonymous said...

Remember when the end of the pier was wiped out in that big winter storm nearly 30 years ago? Curt Arnett's father was head of SM parks back then, and I recall he was on the pier assessing the situation. Once upon a time there were other piers in north SM Bay--POP (as we have reminisced previously) and the "Long Wharf" in the Palisades. Otherwise, it is south to Venice Pier and north to Malibu for much less signficant piers. Gene

Smith said...

good post