The Oakwood area of Venice is unique because it is so well located — close to the beach with easy access to one of the country’s biggest metropolitan areas — and yet it has a checkered and even violent past.
Between 2000 and 2004 I lived in the Oakwood area of Venice Beach. A neighbor and longtime homeowner used to tell me stories of the old Oakwood; hiding in his attic watching chaos on the street. A woman selling drugs out of her child’s stroller. By the time I lived there much of that old Oakwood was already gone. In the past ten years this neighborhood’s transformation has only continued as more custom luxury homes are built.
Many people know of Venice Beach, the Venice Canals and maybe Muscle Beach, but fewer know the history of the Oakwood area of Venice Beach California.
Sometimes known as the “Oakwood Pentagon” because of it’s shape:
Oakwood’s history may be unique among ocean front neighborhoods.
Venice of America was founded by tobacco millionaire Abbot Kinney in 1905 as a beach resort town.
He and his partner Francis Ryan had bought two miles of oceanfront property south of Santa Monica in 1891. In 1904, Kinney built on the marshy land on the south end of the property, intending to create a seaside resort like its namesake in Italy.
When Venice of America opened on July 4, 1905, Kinney had built a 1200-foot-long pleasure pier with an auditorium, ship restaurant, and dance hall, constructed a hot salt-water plunge, and built a block-long arcaded business street with Venetian architecture. Tourists then rode Venice’s miniature railroad and gondolas to tour the town. But the biggest attraction was Venice’s mile-long gently sloping beach. Cottages and housekeeping tents were available for rent.
The Oakwood neighborhood of Venice got it’s start twenty five years later.
During the age of restrictive covenants that enforced racial segregation, Oakwood was set aside as a settlement area for blacks, who came by the hundreds to Venice to work in the oil fields during the 1930s and 1940s. After the construction of the San Diego Freeway passed through predominantly Mexican and immigrant communities, they moved further west and into Oakwood. Later gangs formed and for a few decades Oakwood was dangerous.
Since the 1990’s gentrification has greatly altered Oakwood.
Although still a primarily Latino and African-American neighborhood, the neighborhood is in flux. According to Los Angeles City Beat, “In Venice, the transformation is….obvious. Homes are fetching sometimes more than $1 million, and homes are being displaced every day.”
To some the neighborhood is unrecognizable. In today’s real estate market the competition between buyers to secure a spot in this ocean-close area is fierce.
To learn more about real estate in this area contact me or call Joan Weisman (310) 981-8535 today.