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The Street Seen: Crescent Bay Park

Our guest columnist this week is Ocean Park local, Mark Gorman. Mark writes a semi-monthly local blog he calls “Street Seen”,  focusing on current, and historic, activity and development that has helped shape this unique part of Santa Monica. 

This week Mark explains the development of Crescent Bay Park, and, as a bonus, we include an earlier Street Seen story that describes the public art sculptures located near the Crescent Bay Park.

The Street Seen: Crescent Bay Park

2000 Ocean Avenue Between Bay & Bicknell

Mark Gorman

Dec 2

Crescent Bay Park – Aerial Photo (2013)

Crescent Bay Park, established in 1911, is a 2 1/4 acre City of Santa Monica recreation park located south of the Santa Monica Pier, west of Ocean Avenue between Bay & Bicknell.

Casa Del Mar and Crescent Bay Park – Aerial Photo (1926)

The park has also been referred to at various times as – Seaside Park, Sunset Park, Southside Park and Crystal Beach Park.

Upper level with gazebo

The two grassy areas are separated by a steep slope, creating a bi-level park:  (i) upper level with gazebo (band stand ?), benches and ocean view; and (ii) lower level with a pergola .

Most of the property for the park was donated to the City in 1910 by real estate developer Carl F. Schader1.  Schader purchased the former Arcadia   Hotel beach front property immediately south of the Santa Monica pier. Here he intended to “remake Santa Monica” with his Vicente Terrace and Seaside Terrace subdivisions.

Schader, seeking to improve his development, donated the Crescent Bay Park property to the City with the conditions that it be forever a public park, and that the City construct a band stand, a public sun parlor (the pergola) and a concrete side walk. 

Crescent Bay Park , c. 1930. (Crystal Pier in the background)

Battery powered, electric tram service on Ocean Front Walk between Venice and Ocean Park began operation in 1916. By 1920, the trams ran between the Venice Pier (passing the Ocean Park Pier and the Crystal Pier) to the Santa Monica Pier.

Electric Tram passing Crescent Bay Park – looking north towards Casa Del Mar, and the Santa Monica Pier (c 1927)

Crescent Bay Park is part of the National Register of Historical Places listed Bay Beach Street Historic District- a public space which served as a primary seaside recreation and leisure site for African American Angelenos during the Jim Crow era.

1. Carl Francis Schrader (1870 – 1934).

Born in Little Rock, AR, Schader came to Los Angeles in 1887. He served as the civil engineer for a number of early improvements in Santa Monica. After a brief turn at real estate in 1891, he left to pursue an interest in desert mining.

In 1909, Schader returned to Santa Monica to develop real estate. He purchased beachfront property just south of the Santa Monica pier (bounded on the north by Seaside Terrace, Ocean Avenue to the east, Pico Boulevard to the south, and the Pacific Ocean to the west) on land that once contained the former grand Victorian style Arcadia Hotel.  Here he intended to “remake Santa Monica” with two subdivisions: Vicente Terrace and Seaside Terrace. His wife, Nellie M. Elliot Schrader (1870 – 1936), developed the Kensington Tract that was between the Vicente Terrace and Seaside Terrace tracts.

With an eye to improving his beach front development, Schader also donated some of his other less desirable land – for an Elks Lodge, a Masonic Temple, and an Auditorium. He worked on getting Pico Blvd upgraded and widened from his development, past the new high school, to join up with Los Angeles’ Pico Street – providing a direct route from downtown Los Angeles to his development.

Schader retired in 1912, leaving the business in the hands of his son Carl J. Schrader (1892 – 1916). However Carl Jr shot himself, and Carl Sr returned to the real estate business. Schrader became involved in real estate in Calapatria in Imperial County, California and in Arizona. He died, at the age of 63, in an odd car accident returning to Los Angeles from Phoenix in 1934.

And here, from Nov 18, Mark’s “The Street Seen” describes the history of:

The Homage to Jack Kerouac

Neilson Way & Ocean Ave @ Pico

On March 13, 1993, the city of Santa Monica unveiled Italian sculptor Mauro Staccioli (1937 – 2018)’s piece Untitled (Homage to Jack Kerouac). Two half-moon, rusted red color, structures nestle amongst the palms on this otherwise unassuming median¹.

Staccioli’s first solo show in the United States was in Massachussetts in 1984. This was followed with a show at the Museum of Contemporary Art of San Diego, as well as with the series of installations in 1987-1991 for the Derassi Foundation in Woodside, California. Then in the 1990s, new interventions and exhibitions, among them the one held at Shoshana Wayne Gallery in 1993.

The structures are not Corten steel – but stucco on wood. The installation was coordinated by the City of Santa Monica Cultural  Affairs with a donation from the artist and Shoshana Wayne Gallery, and additional funding from the City of Santa Monica Percent for Art Program. 

The work is at once incongruous, generating tension from its tilted slices and scale, and yet quite at home in its humble materiality.  The two distinctly nautical structures are seemingly woven between the palm trees around them to symbolize, as with many of Staccioli’s sculptures, the juxtaposition between urban society and nature

Under construction (1992)

In 2008, the City Council allocated $100,000 in one-time funds to assist with major conservation of Santa Monica’s art collection. The funds were used to repair three works: Tony de Lap’s “Big Wave; the installation by Michael Davis in the Public Safety      Facility; and this work by Mauro Staccioli. The Staccioli sculpture was repaired in 2011.

1. “On The Road” is Kerouac’s best known work.

We thank Mark Gorman for sharing his research and passion for Ocean Park, and its unique character, with us and our readers, and look forward to sharing more of his writing in the future.

SMa.r.t.

Santa Monica Architects for a Responsible Tomorrow

Dan Jansenson, Architect, Building & Fire-Life Safety Commissioner; Robert H. Taylor, Architect AIA; Ron Goldman, Architect FAIA; Mario Fonda-Bonardi, Architect AIA Planning Commissioner; Sam Tolkin, Architect, Planning Commissioner; Thane Roberts, Architect; Marc Verville, M.B.A. City Audit Sub-Committee Member, CPA-inactive; Michael Jolly ARECRE

For previous articles see www.santamonicaarch.wordpress.com/writing

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