The Santa Monica Pier is a large double-jointed pier located at the foot of Colorado Avenue in Santa Monica, California and is a prominent, 100-year-old landmark.
Santa Monica has had several piers over the years, however the current Santa Monica Pier is actually two adjoining piers that long had separate owners. The long, narrow Municipal Pier opened September 9, 1909, primarily to carry sewer pipes beyond the breakers, and had no amenities. The short, wide adjoining Pleasure Pier to the south, a.k.a. Newcomb Pier, was built in 1916 by Charles I. D. Looff and his son Arthur, amusement park pioneers.
The Carousel was built in 1922 on the Pleasure Pier and features 44 hand-carved horses. It was rebuilt in 1990 inside the Looff Hippodrome. A calliope provides musical accompaniment.
The La Monica Ballroom, designed by T.H. Eslick with a Spanish façade and French Renaissance interior, opened on July 23, 1924. It was the largest dance hall on the west coast, accommodating 5,000 dancers on its 15,000-square-foot (1,400 m2) hard maple floor. In 1948, country music star Spade Cooley began broadcasting his weekly television show from the ballroom, where the enormously popular program remained until 1954. During the summer of 1955, the Hollywood Autocade opened in the La Monica with one-hundred famous and unusual cars, including Jack Benny’s Maxwell and a Rumpler Drop Car. From 1958 until 1962 the ballroom served as a roller skating rink; first as Skater's Ballroom and then Santa Monica Roller Rink, where the speed skating club won many state and regional championships. The La Monica Ballroom was demolished in 1963.
The bridge to the pier and entry gate was built in 1938 by the federal Works Project Administration, and replaced the former grade connection.
The Looff Pier, then known as Newcomb Pier, was acquired by the city in the 1953. In the 1960s various plans were proposed that would entail removal of the pier. The strangest one called for the construction of an artificial island with a 1500-room hotel. It was approved by the City Council, but citizens formed "Save the Santa Monica Bay" to preserve the pier. The outstanding order to raze the pier was revoked by the city council in 1973. That same year the Carousel and Hippodrome were memorable sets in the film The Sting, although the story was set in Chicago.
In the 1950s Enid Newcomb suggested to family friend Morris “Pops” Gordon that his two sons, George and Eugene, purchase and operate the Pier’s arcade. It didn’t take much persuasion, for the Gordons instantly took to the Pier and ultimately made Playland Arcade into the Pier’s longest running enterprise offering the day’s contemporary games alongside those of yesterday, providing inexpensive entertainment to a diverse crowd. George’s daughters Marlene and Joanie have kept the business within the family, and the next generation of Gordons is already in training to maintain the family tradition.