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.

ven_01p_01.jpg
Jataun Valentine & Navalette Tabor Bailey - Venice Residents
ven_01p_02.jpg
Willy Wyatt - Old Timer
ven_01p_03.jpg
Lindsey Haley - Chicano Poet and Activist
ven_01p_04.jpg
Charles Brittin - Photographer: Oakwood, Venice
ven_01p_05.jpg
Dr. Karen Umemoto - Professor, Urban and Regional Planning
ven_01p_06.jpg
Ansar "Stan" Muhammad - Executive Director, Venice 2000
ven_01p_07.jpg
Lois Webb - Executive Director, Tech Team Computer Learning Center
ven_01p_08.jpg
Liska Mendoza - Director, Oakwood Recreation Center
ven_01p_09.jpg
Steve Clare - Venice Community Housing Corporation
ven_01p_10.jpg
Lincoln Place Apartments
ven_01p_11.jpg
Liz Forer - Executive Director, Venice Family Clinic
ven_01p_12.jpg
Tom Hayden - Author and Activist

Oakwood Mural

Developer Abbot Kinney's Venice of America could not have been possible without the working force of hundreds of African-Americans who migrated from the South to build and service Kinney's dream. Segregated by covenants, blacks where forced to live in servants quarters -- in an area now called Oakwood -- and had limited access to the amusements found in the resort town. Though still restricted, Venice life was far different from the South, and provided a new generation of African-Americans far more possibilities for home-ownership and self-reliance.

With the construction of the Santa Monica Freeway in the late 1940's, hundreds of Latinos were forced to relocate to Venice -- then still affordable -- and the two groups lived side by side, both ignored and avoided by the creative class. Although Kinney's vision of the ideal city collapsed, the social and cultural seeds that he planted remained unchanged, as artists, activists, dissidents and health-minded individuals began to claim Venice as their own.

With the rise of the civil rights movement and the hippie era, Venice began to glide, as drugs, social programs and low-income housing changed the nature of community and race relations. In the 1980s, the crack-cocaine epidemic that took hold of inner cities across the US left an undeniable mark on the small beach town community, pitting brother against brother and creating one of the country's worst gang warfares. Today, the allure of living near the beach and becoming part of the creative class is recalibrating property values in the area and adding to the ongoing demographic shift.