The Santa Monica Pier is a well-loved tourist attraction known all over the world. Each year, more than six million visitors travel from near and far to visit the pier and spend the day enjoying the attractions.

From incredible views to delicious restaurants, there is no shortage of activities to enjoy at this California pier. But what many visitors don’t realize is that the pier has a rich history behind it.

Before you head to the pier to enjoy a day of fun with your family and friends, it is worth understanding more about how the pier got there and how it has evolved over time. When you know more about its past, you’ll be able to appreciate the marvel it is today.

Below, we’ve put together a brief guide to this landmark piece of Santa Monica history. Read on to learn more, and be inspired to plan a trip!

1. The Origins of the Santa Monica Pier

Today, the Santa Monica Pier is one of the most popular California piers to visit. But when the pier was originally conceived, the idea of the Santa Monica pier rides and other amusements was unimaginable.

The pier was originally built to satisfy the sanitation needs of the city of Santa Monica. It took sixteen months to build and opened to the public in September of 1909. Thousands of visitors flocked to the pier to enjoy festivities, and local entrepreneurs soon identified a business opportunity.

2. The Evolution of the Santa Monica Pier

After realizing that this California pier was an attractive destination for visitors, plans were put in place to build attractions and amusements around the Santa Monica Pier.

In February of 1916, Charles Looff–who was a well-known carousel manufacturer–purchased the land south of the pier to develop. He introduced Pleasure Pier rides such as the Blue Streak Racer roller coaster, the Hippodrome, and the Carousel, which features 44 hand-carved horses.

Over the years, the pier has gone through several iterations and periods of new development. In the 1950s, a new family bought the Santa Monica Pier arcade and turned it into the long-running attraction it now is. In the 1970s, the pier was almost destroyed to make way for a resort.

In the 1980s, violent winter storms caused serious damage to the pier, and it was only through a comprehensive revitalization effort that the pier managed to return to its full glory.

3. The Santa Monica Pier Now

Even as new sites and tourist attractions continue to open around it, the Santa Monica Pier is as popular as it ever was. In addition to the rides and attractions, street performers, restaurants, and the incredible views keep visitors coming year after year.

Want to Experience This Piece of Santa Monica History?

No trip to Santa Monica would be complete without a visit to the pier. Understanding how this incredible place came to be can help you to better appreciate what it is now.

When you’re planning your next family vacation or a trip with friends, consider taking the time to visit this iconic site and piece of Santa Monica history.

When you’re done strolling, take a bite of history at Big Dean’s, you can even check out our menu online!

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