Friday, 27 April 2012
PACIFIC OCEAN PARK
Pacific Ocean Park was a twenty-eight acre (110,000 m²), nautical-themed amusement park built on a pier at Pier Avenue in the Ocean Park section of Santa Monica, California, which was intended to compete with Disneyland. "And Disneyland and POP is worth a trip to L.A." is a line from the Beach Boys' song "Amusement Parks U.S.A." from their 1965 album Summer Days (and Summer Nights!!). After it closed and fell into disrepair, the park and pier anchored the Dogtown area of Santa Monica.
The park, which commonly came to be known as POP, was very successful in the beginning, but many factors turned its fortunes around for the worse. Escalating crime and deterioration in the community, inefficient street constructions, fiscal mismanagement, and low park maintenence led to the park losing massive amounts of customers and in turn money by the mid '60s.
In 1967, the park ceased operations, and in 1968, it had its assets liquidated by the City of Santa Monica in order to pay creditors. The park was taken apart piece by piece, and what was left became a rundown abandoned carcass of a pier that attracted all sort of seedy and down and out characters. It was home to many homeless people and was a popular hangout for teenagers who loved the thrill of the forbbiden and dangerous. It was in these remnants of POP that the surfing and skateboard culture of Dogtown (Santa Monica/Venice/Ocean Park "ghetto") was born. The most notable regulars of the abandoned pier were the Z-Boys of 70's skateboarding fame.
In the early 70's, the pier experienced a series of arson fires that little by little consumed what was left of the ruins. In 1973, one last fire destroyed what was left. Soon after, the city decided that the ruins of POP had become an eyesore in the community and finally demolished the pier and cleared the site of any evidence there had ever been a pier there.
Today, the only parts that remain of POP are some broken pilings that are underwater and a few signs warning swimmers of their presence. It wasn't until the mid '90s that the area saw another pleasure pier of that magnitude again. This pier is the famous Santa Monica Pier, which has been extensively renovated, just a few blocks to the north of the "POP graveyard".