Unfortunately, a huge storm struck on January 27, 1983, which destroyed the northwest corner of the Municipal Pier and caused an estimated $2.5 million in damage to the pier. A second and more powerful storm then struck on March 1, a storm that did even more damage. 40 MPH winds, fifteen foot high waves, and the highest tides of the year combined their forces and by midnight the entire west end of the Municipal Pier had been destroyed and 45,000 square feet of the adjacent Newcomb Pier. Less than two-thirds of the 1,200-foot-long pier remained. Everything west of Moby’s Dock was gone and 20 percent of the pier’s total area was swept into the sea. Damage was estimated at $8.5 million. Included in the wreckage was the pier’s tackle shop and the boat landing and it would spell forever the end of Versal Schuler’s Santa Monica Sportfishing.
After the earlier mentioned talk and debate, construction on the new Newcomb Pier started in November of 1987. That project was completed in August of 1988. The new Municipal Pier opened on April 6, 1990 and just ten minutes after opening Robert Khourney, an eighteen-year-old angler, caught a thirteen-inch bass.
Since the earliest days, businesses have come and gone on the pier but it has retained enough elements of those bygone days to still attract a newer, less familiar generation of visitors. Today’s attractions include Pacific Park, a 12-ride carnival-style amusement park that helps Santa Monica retain the “pleasure pier” status that it has enjoyed for so long a time. Whatever the changes, the various businesses and attractions seem to work and a risorgimento of sorts has taken place. Today more than three million visitors a year visit the pier and it is one of the most visited piers in the state as well as an icon for the entire Los Angeles region. That’s true even though the nine-story-high Pacific Wheel, a Ferris wheel that was a centerpiece of the park, was auctioned off on eBay in 2008. The Ferris wheel, converted to solar power as one part of a program to turn Santa Monica into the nation’s first “Solar City,” was perhaps a little too tame for today’s visitor.
Of additional interest (I think) is Muscle Beach, the area south of the pier. It was originally named for the mussels that were attached to the pier pilings. In the early ’30s, the federal Work Progress Administration decided to build a weight lifting platform on the beach. The project’s dual purpose was to provide jobs for workers and provide a recreation area for Depression-era teenagers. Undoubtedly, someone, somewhere, felt that idle youth should be kept busy before their boredom turned to mischief—kind of like today’s Midnight Basketball Leagues. Eventually the area became home to circus performers, weight lifters, and unfortunately some of the seedier and more dangerous vagrants on the beach. A murder in 1956 and a rape in 1958 resulted in removal of the equipment although eventually Beach Park #4 was given some adult gymnastic equipment. Over time, the name was changed from Mussel Beach to Muscle Beach. Today, more people associate Muscle Beach with the beach area near the Venice Pier.
Santa Monica was named for holy Monica, the mother of Saint Augustine.
Santa Monica Pier Facts
Hours: Open 24 hours a day.
Facilities: There are lights, benches, fish-cleaning facilities and restrooms on the pier. Multi-level balconies allow anglers to fish closer to the water and they were designed to be wheelchair accessible. There is a bait and tackle shop by the end of the pier. There are several snack shops and restaurants on the shore half of the pier and the Mariasol Mexican food restaurant out toward the end. There is parking on the pier in a lot; the cost is $5-7 a day. There is metered parking on streets above the pier. Free concerts are held on the pier Thursday evenings in the summer months. For those worried about visiting the pier at night, a police station is now open near the entrance of the pier..
Handicapped Facilities: Handicapped parking but non-handicapped restrooms. The pier surface is cement and the rail height is 41 inches. Posted for handicapped.
Location: 34.0095897345215 N. Latitude, 118.49714040756226 W. Longitude
How To Get There: From I-405 take Santa Monica Blvd. west to Ocean Ave. Turn left, and go to Colorado Ave., and turn right onto the pier.
Management: City of Santa Monica.