California’s Piers

Piers, it seems, have lost their purpose in California.

Well, to be more specific, they no longer provide a dock for steamers to unload goods. This has been the case for a long time. Today, the piers do little else but provide an opportunity for tourists to stretch their legs and wander just a bit further west than where the land itself ends.

So why am I writing about piers? Well, the New York Times has decided to dedicate a whole article to the Piers of California: At Sea Without a Sail.

The article provides some interesting history about the storied piers of the Golden State and why they still exist today. As a resident of Los Angeles, and one who lives just a mile from the Venice Pier and less than ten miles from the Santa Monica Pier, I wanted to add in my two cents.

First of all, the Venice Pier is hardly mentioned. Perhaps, it is because the pier, rebuilt after a winter storm a few years ago, is nothing more than a byway of concrete stretching out to the ocean. No shops, restaurants, or rides. I used to rollerblade to the end of it, but since the city began prohibiting any type of wheels on the pier, I haven’t bothered to step foot (or wheel) on it for a number of years. Pity.

The Santa Monica Pier, on the other hand, is a great big monster of a wooden pier–just the way they should be built. Unfortunately, the food is average, the rides are average, the parking is horrible, and the people are a bit scary at night. In the last five years, I’ve actually been to the Santa Monica Pier fewer times than the Venice Pier. There is one exception, however. The Thursday Twilight Dance Concerts in the summertime are always a great gig. Last year saw the likes of Poncho Sanchez and Dick Dale performed live under the stars. And, it’s free.

So, that’s my two cents on two local piers. The New York Times article covers a handful of others throughout the state, some good, some bad. But don’t get me wrong. No matter what west-facing pier you happen to find yourself, there is really nothing better than sitting right above the break as the sun is going down. That, my friends, is what California is all about.