Vintage Photo Friday - P.O.P.
|The Ticket Office at Pacific Ocean Park, 1959|
As our Los Angeles weather warms up, my thoughts turn to the beach and the many hours I spent there as a youth. Although I work in Santa Monica, my office is 26 blocks east of the beach, so I rarely get a glimpse of the Pacific Ocean.
When we were kids, we spent every waking moment of the summer at the beach. Mom and Dad MADE me attend summer school, but it was usually over by lunchtime. My friends and I would board the westbound Wilshire Boulevard bus and head for the beach. The bus left us off at the end of Wilshire Boulevard and we'd stroll down the California Incline to the Pacific Coast Highway. Our destination was Tee's, the snack stand just north of the Sand and Sea Club on Pacific Coast Highway. All of my friends were there, baking in the sun. It was popular then to get as tan as we could. We're paying for the sun damage now!
|Alfred E. Newman and Ellen, dancing the Twist @ P.O.P., 1963. (love my pixie band)|
A highlight of the beach area was the amusement venue known as Pacific Ocean Park. Here is a great website with tons of vintage photos of the Pier. P.O.P. was our Disneyland by the Sea. P.O.P. operated from 1958 through 1967, basically, most of my childhood years. I remember going to birthday parties at P.O.P. and just generally running around and going crazy, unhampered by parental supervision. I guess our parents thought the park was safe. They'd let us run wild and go on as many rides as we wanted. For me, P.O.P. was even more fun than Disneyland because we could just get on the bus and go there on our own. Freedom AND the Diving Bell!
Sadly, the park closed in 1967. From Wikipedia: "In 1965, Santa Monica really began its Ocean Park urban renewal project. Buildings in the surrounding area were demolished and streets leading to the park were closed. As a result, visitors found it hard to reach the park and attendance plummeted to 621,000 in 1965 and 398,700 in 1966."
|Empty and abandoned Pacific Ocean Park. Herald Examiner, 1968|
Today's Santa Monica Pier Amusement Park will never be as cool and futuristic as Pacific Ocean Park was. Although it only lasted a short time, POP will remain in my memory forever. Sigh.