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American neighborhoods are changing, growing and re-defining themselves. Nowhere is this more evident than in Venice, California, where one of Los Angeles' most sophisticated and affluent creative enclaves sits side-by-side with a traditional working class community. This contrast has become even more stark recently, as residents build sustainable architectural homes in densely populated areas of Oakwood, which was once segregated by a covenant and was home to the Venice 13.

Despite all these contradictions, Venice remains a magical spot not only to the tourists that flock to its beaches year after year, but also to those—rich or poor—that call Venice their home.

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Chapters

Chapter 1 Oakwood
The creation of Venice of America was made possible with the working force of hundreds of African-Americans who migrated from the South. Ironically, they were still segregated by covenants, forced to live in servants quarters -- in an area now called Oakwood -- with limited access to the amenities found in the resort town they helped build.
Chapter 2 Venice of America
Developer Abbot Kinney envisioned Venice of America as an ideal city that would "be partly for study, partly for recreation, and partly for health." The resort town cleverly satisfied mind, body and spirit, recreating its Italian forebear, complete with canals, gondolas, amusement parks, and high-minded Chautauquas.
Chapter 3 Architecture & Design
Venice's cultural elasticity has afforded architects, artists and designers the ability to explore new vocabularies of urban living, free from aesthetic or historical restrictions.
Chapter 4 Arts and Beats
While the country rejoiced in its post-war prosperity, Venice had become a "slum by the ocean." Ironically, this cultivated the perfect environment for artists, poets and dissidents to create a counter-cultural haven and an artistic movement that redefined American art in the last quarter of the 20th century.
Chapter 5 Abbot Kinney Boulevard
Abbot Kinney Boulevard as we know it today came to life in the 1970s when the street was renamed after almost a century of being known as Washington Boulevard. A new Rodeo Drive with attitude, the street allows no chain stores to set up shop; it's the public face of the changes Venice has gone through in the last quarter of the 20th century.
Chapter 6 Community
Though fiercely independent, Venice also boasts one of the strongest communities of any neighborhood in Los Angeles; in no other place can you find such an array of not-for-profit organizations in just a few square miles.
Chapter 7 The Crumbs
Beat poet Philomene Long once said that the remains of the great American feast -- its crumbs -- ended up in Venice, and no place is this more evident that in the polyglot tapestry of the Venice Boardwalk, where it pairs the weird with the sublime, the rich with the poor -- creating a democratizing effect that is hard to find in any other place in America.
Chapter 8 Sunshine
From the early days of Abbot Kinney's Venice of America, to the grand opening of the millennial Skate Park, the beach in Venice has come to represent one of L.A.'s most generous and eccentric public spaces. Like the boardwalk, the beach makes room for all, and seldom discriminates.

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YOUTH VOICES

Youth Voices is a digital literacy and civic engagement program that invites youth to explore their neighborhood and become active participants in all aspects of their community. Take a look at some of their work and the Youth Voices curriculum. READ MORE arrow

Field Guides

Be a tourist in your own backyard, explore the places and histories that make up our unique neighborhoods.