Had I not been researching restaurants in Los Angeles’ edgy neighbour, Venice, on Google Maps, I would not have discovered urban architectural curiosities known as the Venice Walk Streets. What’s a ‘walk street’, I hear you ask, and why are they in Venice Beach? Well, let me tell you. The Venice Walk Streets are a set of four narrow pedestrian-only walkways hidden off residential streets in the Venice neighbourhood of California, inland from Venice Beach, and they make for a peaceful detour when the noise of Venice Beach gets too much.
They date back to the 1900s when a tobacco tycoon called, Abbot Kinney, decided he wanted to create his version of Venice in Italy – complete with canals – in southern California. Good old Abbott Kinney. Good old Google Maps!
At the time these curious ‘walk streets’ and homes along them were first developed, the Venice Beach boardwalk was a gathering place for street performers who – along with those who worked on the Venice Pier – lived in houses along them. These were regular people on regular to low salaries and they could afford to live in the Venice Walk Streets.
Some look as they would have been when they were originally built, give or take some minor tweaks, while others have been redeveloped into modern designs.
Either way, today the houses are some of the most expensive in Los Angeles, home to the likes of Oscar-winning actress, Julia Roberts. Despite the influx of affluent residents, the walk streets have managed to maintain a charming appeal. Elaborate gardens, gateways and kitschy artefacts adorn each property enticing passers-by to sneak a peek.
Discovering any one of the four Venice Walk Streets feels like falling down a rabbit hole and stepping out into another world, well away from the rowdiness of the Venice Beach boardwalk. I went on a mission to find them and can vouch that the nicest ones are Nowita Place, Marco Place, Amoroso Place and Crescent Place. If you’re planning to discover the Walk Streets of Venice Beach yourself, I would recommend you begin your hunt at Lincoln Boulevard and follow Nowita Place to Shell Avenue.