20 vintage photos of LA beaches

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Elijah Chiland

Guest
#1

Back when elaborate bathing costumes and parasols constituted standard beachwear

For well over 100 years, crowds have flocked to Los Angeles beaches.

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, when elaborate bathing costumes and parasols constituted standard beachwear, visitors and residents descended upon beachfront resorts and boardwalk amusement parks.

Most of those attractions had vanished by the 1960s, but people didn’t stop going to the beach, and new activities like surfing and beach volleyball had emerged as some of the region’s most popular pastimes.

Thanks to old photos like the ones below, we have plenty of record of how, when, and where people have enjoyed the beach throughout LA’s history. If you plan to hit the shore this weekend, take these images as inspiration. And be sure to bring plenty of sunscreen.

Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection
A crowded day at Hermosa Beach. The photo is undated but appears to have been taken prior to the reconstruction of the beach’s pier in the early 1960s.

Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection
A bathing cap-clad beachgoer enjoys the Santa Monica shoreline.

Getty Images
The Venice Midway in the early 1900s. One of the most popular attractions on the boardwalk can be seen on the right: Darkness & Dawn, an early haunted house.

Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection
A woman runs across the beach in Santa Monica.

Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection
A lone surfer at Will Rogers State Beach in 1985.

Los Angeles Public Library
A beach in Malibu, all parked up in 1923.

Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection
Beach volleyball on Venice Beach. In the background is an ornate bath house, once a common sight in LA’s beachfront communities.

Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection
A view of Santa Monica in the early days of its development.

Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection
Surfers at Will Rogers State Beach on an unseasonably hot December day in 1972.

Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection
Malibu surfers wait for waves in 1961.

Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection
Los Angeles beaches remained segregated until the 1960s. A stretch of Santa Monica Beach known as Inkwell, seen here in 1926, was one of the few places black beachgoers could go.

Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection
A couple lays out at Inkwell Beach in 1931.

Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection
Crowds at Hermosa Beach in 1947. On the right is the handsome Surf and Sand Club, designed by Rose Bowl architect Myron Hunt. It was torn down in 1969.

Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection
A group of friends at Manhattan Beach in 1961.

USC Libraries Digital Collection
An early view of the Long Beach Pier, seen here in 1910.

Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection
Crowds pack the beach near the Long Beach Pike amusement park in 1930. The stretch of beach seen here was later redeveloped as Shoreline Village and the Shoreline Marina.

Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection
Long Beach crowds watch sailboats go by in 1939.

Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection
An Armenian-American family at Redondo Beach in 1937.

Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection
Marilyn Monroe above the pier at Paradise Cove in 1950.


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