Abbot Kinney, Part 1: The Early Years
by Elayne Alexander, Board Historian Emeritus
ABBOT KINNEY, CREATOR OF VENICE, CALIFORNIA, LED A FASCINATING LIFE FILLED WITH ADVENTURE, SCHOLARLY PURSUITS, PUBLIC SERVICE, AND BUSINESS ENTERPRISES…
In the years that followed Abbot Kinney broadened his real estate investments. These included: land now known as Pacific Palisades, buildings in downtown Los Angeles, a division in the West Adams district, and, with partner Francis Ryan, a swath of beach from Ocean Park into the Ballona salt marshes. In Ocean Park, Kinney and Ryan built a pier and country club, established tennis and polo tournaments, and sold building lots. Trolley service was provided by the Pacific Red Cars to downtown Los Angeles and the future looked bright until Ryan died suddenly of a heart attack at 47. When Abbot Kinney could not agree with the new syndicate who took over Ryan’s share, the two parties agreed to a coin toss where the winner would choose between the developed Ocean Park area or taking on the thoroughly undeveloped swamp area to the south. Kinney won the toss and surprised everyone choosing the marshy area. And thus, a long ago dream of building a “Venice-of-America” began.