One of LA’s radical communities
Santa Monica’s expansive white sand beach and fresh sea breezes have been refreshing citizens of LA since the ‘Red Car’ rail transportation system linked it to the rest of the city at the turn of the century. Since the demise of the offshore gambling ships, which circumvented gaming laws and gave the community a seedy ambience in the 1920s, Santa Monica has forged a reputation as one of LA’s creative and radical communities. Nonetheless, few people can afford to live here without being very securely bank-rolled with the notable exception of the many unfortunates who sleep rough in the beach-side Palisades Park.
The landmark Santa Monica Pier has withstood the poundings of storms and tourists’ feet for seven decades, and the frequent attentions of TV and film crews, including those who used its 1922 carousel for a bit part in The Sting. Away from the beach, and the hotels and apartment houses which face it, Santa Monica’s appeal centres on the trendy cafes of Third Street Promenade – a lively pedestrianized street often engulfed by parades or festivals. A short walk south, at 2612 Main Street, are the worthwhile historical exhibitions of the California Heritage Museum (https://www.californiaheritagemuseum.org). The Santa Monica Museum of Art (http://smmoa.org), no. 2437, shows some of the latest works from the town’s many highly-rated contemporary artists in a 1908 warehouse redesigned by one of its most acclaimed architects, Frank Gehry.