I found this beautiful painting of the Santa Monica Pier by Los Angeles based artist Dick Burg a few days ago on another site. Click on the image above for a larger view.
Growing up in Los Angeles in the 1970's, this is how I most remember the pier.
The old carrosel building was used extensively in the opening scenes in 1973 film "The Sting." I had the privledge of seeing "The Sting" at a theater just three blocks from the Pier.
The entire audience gave a collective cheer when the Pier - thanks to some excellent matte work - stood in for 1930's Chicago. Totally unexpected. One of those experiencing L.A. moments.
The Santa Monica Pier celebrated it's 100 year anniversary back in 2009.
It's a great place to hang out for a few hours - or the day. You'll find parking, and the crowds, much more managable just south of the Pier. The north side can get a little zoo-ey at times. But that might be part of the fun.