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The Manhattan Beach Pier is a pier located in Manhattan Beach, California on the Pacific Ocean coast. The pier is 928 feet (283 m) long and located at the end of Manhattan Beach Boulevard. An octagonal Mediterranean-style building sits at the end of the pier and houses the Roundhouse Marine Studies Lab & Aquarium. Surfers can be seen below the pier and sometimes weave in and out of the mussel covered pilings. The pier is popular with locals, tourists, and for fishing, as well as with photographers and artists, offering sunsets and vantage points from the shore and hillside.
In 1897, the Potencia Company was incorporated to develop land in the area and proposed a seaside resort with wharves and piers. The area was named Potencia, but the city of Manhattan was incorporated in 1912 with the word "Beach" being added in 1927. The name was chosen by land developer John Merrill, a native of New York.
A pier is believed to have been one of the first features built when the Manhattan Beach community was developed. Two wooden piers were built in 1901, one at Center Street (later renamed Manhattan Beach Boulevard and one at Marine Avenue called Peck's Pier and Pavilion.
The Center Street pier was 900 feet (270 m) long and pylons were made by fastening three railroad rails together and driving them into the ocean floor. The Center Street pier supported a narrow wooden deck and wave motor to generate power for the Strand lighting system, but sources disagree about whether the system worked. Part of the wave motor may still be buried in the sands at the shore end of the present pier. This "old iron pier", as it was called, was destroyed by a major storm in 1913.
The pier from Manhattan Beach Boulevard
Lack of money, lawsuits, storms, World War I and debates about when and where to build another pier delayed Manhattan Beach from having a pier completed until 1920. Engineer A.L. Harris developed the concept of the circular end for less exposure and damage to the pilings by the waves. The pier was completed and dedicated on July 5, 1920. The next version built was a cement pier with a rounded end and it was 928 feet (283 m) long. Octagonal house that now holds a lunch restaurant was completed in 1922. In 1928, a 200-foot (61 m) wooden extension was added but it was destroyed in a storm in 1940. In 1991 the pier was restored to its 1920s appearance with a dedication ceremony in 1992.
In 1928 the pier was extended out 200 feet (at no cost to the city) when a Captain Larsen of Redondo Beach offered to pay for an extension in exchange for the rights to run a shoreboat between the pier and his barge Georgina. On January 9, 1940, 90 feet of the extension were ripped away during a winter storm. The extension was never repaired and the remaining section was swept away in February 1941.
In 1946 the pier and adjoining beach were deeded over from the city of Manhattan Beach to the state. During the next four decades the pier would remain a focus of beachfront activity, but Mother Nature and old age took their toll and by the 1980s the pier was in sad shape and in need of renovation.
Restoration took place in the early 1990s with a focus on retention of the old time appearance, much like Pier 7 in San Francisco. The original pier had to be fixed as old age and decay required extensive repair, and in fact made it unsafe by the late 1980s (when a jogger was injured by falling concrete).
In 1995, the pier was declared a state historic landmark. It is the oldest standing concrete pier on the West Coast. It is managed by the County of Los Angeles, Department of Beaches and Harbors.
May 8th, 2012
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