Whether they weathered storms or were part of Oscar gold, the storied history of the beach city piers — Hermosa Beach, Manhattan Beach and Redondo Beach — will be discussed during a virtual lecture series on March 18.
Hosted by the Hermosa Beach Historical Society, the Virtual Lecture Series began in June 2020 with a discussion on the Channel Islands. The series has continued monthly with discussions including the history of the historic Bijou Theatre to South Bay ghost stories.
Taking part in the discussion will be Gary McAulay, president of the Manhattan Beach Historical Society; Hermosa Beach historian Chris Miller; and Dean Francois, member of the HBHS and former president of the Redondo Beach Historical Society, with Rob Gaddis, a RBHS representative.
“The piers of the three beach cities have served as a focal point for tourism, trade and commerce, and economic activity,” said Francois in an email. “Learning the histories of the piers will help us understand how relevant they are in shaping the way the cities grew over time and what possible outcomes will be for the future. Our Historical Societies help preserve the past for the future, and are an integral part of the community.”
HERMOSA BEACH PIER
According to the Hermosa Beach Historical Society, the first pier, made entirely of wood and 500-feet in length, was built in 1904 by the Hermosa Beach Land and Water Company.
Just nine years later, a new pier, concrete and 1,000 feet in length and paved in asphalt, was built after the original one was torn down after partially being washed away.
“Small tiled pavilions were erected at intervals along the sides to afford shade for fishermen and picnic parties,” according to the Historical Society’s website. “A bait stand was built eventually out on the end.”
Decades later, in 1965, a new pier took shape that extended more than 1,100 feet from Pier Plaza.
“The pier was closed for safety concerns, reopened a little later, formally condemned, then remodeled into today’s ‘rendition’ of the pier- the dedication was in 1965,” said Jamie Erickson, Hermosa Beach Museum director of operations.
Over recent decades, the pier has been renovated, become the home for the Surfers Walk of Fame in 2003, and featured in the Oscar-winning film “La La Land” in 2016.
MANHATTAN BEACH PIER
The Manhattan Beach Pier had its 100th birthday celebration in July 2020 amid the pandemic.
According the Manhattan Beach Historical Society, the current pier is the oldest concrete pier on the west coast.
"The piers have always been considered central, even essential, to our towns but we nearly lost ours in Manhattan Beach due to changing times and indifference," McAulay said. "Saved from demolition through the efforts of historical society members, it is now the beloved icon of our town."
The grand opening of the 928-foot-long pier was held on July 5, 1920, according to the MBHS.
“However, the pavilion (the roundhouse) at the end of the pier and the bath house weren’t completed until July 4, 1922,” according to the MBHS. “The ‘bath house’ was located beneath the pier deck at the base or foot of the pier. This facility included bathing suit rentals, beach umbrella rentals, 360 lockers, and changing rooms.”
Over the decades the pier has been a magnate for fishing, reshaped by storms and erosion, according to the MBHS, leading to rebuilding the pier in 1992.
REDONDO BEACH PIER
The first pier in Redondo Beach was built as a wharf in 1889, about three years before it became a city, according to redondopier.org.
Redondo Beach was busy as the first port of Los Angeles at the turn of the century according to the city’s website.
Multiple wharfs and piers have been erected over the decades, many damaged by storms. Storms and fire destroyed the Horseshoe Pier in 1988 which was later replaced by a concrete pier in 1995.
The rest of the Pier, including iconic Old Tony’s restaurant, survived the fire in 1988 and continues operations through the pandemic.
“Beach City Piers: A History of the Manhattan, Hermosa, and Redondo Beach Piers,” takes place on Thursday March 18, beginning at at 6:30 p.m.
For more information, visit hermosabeachhistoricalsociety.org.