In the Old Days:
Arielle Haze views
Unpainting the Town:
Helen K. Garber photos
Art at the Rose Cafe'
New Venice Sign
In the Old Days
Midway and Lagoon
a more-or-less clockwise tour around
Midway Plaisance, situated alongside part of Grand Canal and the central lagoon or lake, which later became the traffic circle.
Midway 1908 or thereabouts
The Midway existed from 1906-1909, furnished with attractions from the Lewis and Clark Exposition, including Streets of Cairo, Chicken Farm, Temple of Mirth, Ouitta's Occult Show, Darkness and Dawn, Spanish Theater, head-hunters, dancing girls, camels, and the obligatory midget and giant.
In 1907 there was a concert by a sixteen piece band, along with Leora's trapeze act and Tarasca's bike ride down a long ramp, through a circle of fire, and over a 36-foot chasm. The reviewing stand is on the right, and it's seen from another side in the next picture.
Midway entrance, 1907
The Amphitheatre or reviewing stand (background) held 1500 or maybe 2500 spectators, depending on which source you consult. From it, visitors watched aquatic events and fireworks displays. From this perspective the Lagoon is hidden on the other side of the Amphitheatre. To the right is the Midway entrance.
Now we're looking from the opposite angle. I'm guessing this picture was taken from the bridge over Grand Canal, looking toward the Amphitheatre, which is in the middle. Midway Plaisance is on the left; the Lagoon Bathhouse on the right. On the opening weekend in 1905 there were swimming races, fireworks and band concerts here. The tall structure is the diving platform.
This seems to have been taken from that bridge that spanned Coral Canal, looking back toward the Amphitheatre. In the right foreground is the corner of the Bathhouse.
In the center is the bridge the previous shot was taken from. We've backed away from the Lagoon, along Coral Canal. Across the water are the minarets of the midway. On the right is the back of the Lagoon Bathhouse; on the left, the Antler Hotel.
Now we've advanced to the Lagoon again. The entrance to the Amphitheatre is on the left, Lagoon Bathhouse on the right. In the middle, looking straight down Windward Avenue toward the ocean, we see the mast of the Cabrillo, which was "docked" at the pier. The round platform was for launching fireworks.
Pretty much the same view but round platform looks different.
Pretty much the same view, from a card postmarked 1925.
From across the water. The Amphitheatre is on the left, the Lagoon Bathhouse on the right.
Even before a beach bathhouse was built, the Lagoon Bathhouse was an original Venice of America structure, but the heating plant for the 70-square-foot saltwater pool wasn't finished in time for the grand opening. It debuted in February of 1906, then in 1909 was remodeled into classrooms used by a military academy. Then it became Venice's high school until 1914, when there was a flood, and soon afterward the building was destroyed by fire.
If you were standing in front of the Antler Hotel, the Bathhouse would look like this.
Antler Hotel, around 1916. Later in the Prohibition era, its basement held a speakeasy.
Bridge over Coral Canal on left, then in the background a bridge over Aldebaran Canal (which later became Market Street.) Antler Hotel, and bridge over Lion Canal.
This photo is from around 1910. Left to right: Antler hotel; bridge over Lion Canal; Cosmos Club; Grand Canal; boathouse; far end of midway.
Antler Hotel on left, then Lion Canal, then the point of land that held the Cosmos Club which later became the Kinney estate. On the right are the Grand Canal and the boathouse, which held a fleet of 35 gondolas.
Same view as above, different day, different postcard company
The boathouse around 1910
Here in this column, the pictures are later than the era of the "tour" at left.
Gondola hold tower 1930s, not sure exactly where this was, it seems to be attached to the boathouse.
Lagoon Bathhouse on left, Coral Canal in middle, Antler Hotel on right. This is later than the preceding views, as we know because the roller coaster in the foreground wasn't built until 1911, in the area where the Midway Plaisance had previously been.
This must be even later, because the Bathhouse seems to be missing. It suffered a flood in 1914 and then it burned.
Another view of the Race Thru the Clouds coaster next to the Lagoon: built in 1911, refurbished in 1921, demolished in 1923.
Lagoon fireworks, from a pre-1910 postcard.
© 2004 - 2012 Pat Hartman