del Rey History
one of Southern California's most prized recreational areas, Marina
del Rey is the realization of a dream that spans more than 100
years. What began as the vision of a 19th century real estate speculator
has endured bankruptcy, unsympathetic government reports, two world
wars and mother nature, to become a popular destination for day
visitors, tourists, water sports enthusiasts and business travelers.
It all began in 1887 when real estate developer,
M. C. Wicks envisioned turning the Playa del Rey estuary into
a major commercial harbor. Working under the auspices of the Santa
Fe railroad, Wicks' Ballona Development Co. invested
$300,000 to develop the area but went bankrupt three years later.
A visitor to the estuary in those days would
have found no sailors, but plenty of duck hunters. A quarter of
a century later, nothing much had changed. In 1916, the U.
S. Army Corps of Engineers reported that it was impractical
to develop the Playa del Rey inlet and basin as a major harbor.
Marina proponents had another go at it in 1936,
when Congress authorized reconsideration of the previous negative
report, and a year later the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors
ordered another study.
fate had something else in store for the Marina, which lost out
to San Pedro in a competitive bid to create Los Angeles
Harbor. From this point on, development of the Marina would
focus on its evolution into a recreational small craft harbor.
Now the dream was open for the dream to become
reality. After World War II had put a temporary halt to planning,
and more than thirty years after their first report, the Corps
of Engineers submitted another study indicating the feasibility
of creating a pleasure craft harbor.
were many obstacles to overcome, many of which where hurtled by
then Chamber President Larry
Norman whom is credited with bringing about harmony and cooperation
between the city and county in the marina's development. Norman
traveled to the state's capital several times and again to Washington
D.C in order to secure funds which would purchase the harbour
site. Construction delays slowed early development, and when the
Marina finally opened for operation, severe damage from winter
storms forced the initiation of an emergency program to provide
protection from wave action.
The answer came in the form of an off-shore breakwater,
and the County responded by promptly appropriating the cost and
working with Congress to deliver matching funds. The final key
to the successful completion of the Marina was the construction
of the breakwater in January, 1965.
dedication of Marina del Rey was held in April, 1965. It
was the capstone of one man's dream that can now be shared by
all who visit this multi-faceted destination.
What does Marina del Rey offer today?
More than 6,000 recreational boat slips, the highest density of
restaurant seating in a one-square-mile area, outside of New York
City, and boat launching ramps that provide access to over 100,000
trailer-class boats annually.
Moreover, Marina del Rey is part of a vision that
keeps growing. Additions during the years include more than 1,900
feet of guest boat docks, 180 feet of public fishing docks, Admiralty
Park, view piers and a promenade.