Venice of America, Los AngelesTobacco millionaire Abbot Kinney purchased marshland on the southern California coast. He had the grandiose idea to create “Venice in America,” complete with canals. Kinney started work in 1905 to create a luxurious seaside resort that would mirror Italy’s famous Venice. His manmade canals were all the rage at the time, lined with beautiful flower gardens, with gondolas on the water. However, his dream wasn’t meant to be and what started as a whimsical tourist attraction went to wrack and ruin.
It was the sudden influx of automobiles in the country that spoiled everything. In fact, the resort was considered outdated and took up precious road space. This led to all but a few blocks being filled in, while the remainder fell into disrepair. They ended up being the subject of debate among urban renewal plans.
However, after 40 years of red tape and unsavory residents, the canals were restored to their previous quiet decadence. They became a haven for anyone who had the money to stay there. Nowadays, the Venice of America is a pleasant place to stroll among the occasionally funky architecture and gardens.
The Echo Park Time Travel Mart, L.A.Science fiction fans have always loved time travel and now, the Echo Park Time Travel Mart is the place to go. The store bears the slogan, “Whenever you are, we’re already then,” which instantly attracts visitors, keen to find out what it is all about.
The store was opened by 826, an organization that started the Pirate Supply Company in San Francisco and the Superhero Supply Store in Brooklyn. Basically, it sells humorous artifacts from the past, present and future, including such wonders as Robot Emotions and Barbarian Repellant.
Located in the historic Echo Park neighborhood in Los Angeles the store functions as a retail space and literacy tutoring center, just like the other stores. While the windows display quaint items like robots and cavemen, the back of the store is something very different. This is where the non-profit organization tutors 20-30 students every day in creative writing.
All proceeds of goods sold by the Echo Park Time Travel Mart go towards funding the efforts of the non-profit organization. While the store sells quirky time travel items, visitors can also browse and purchase the students’ written publications. It is a win-win situation for everyone.
Garden of Oz, Los AngelesHidden in the Hollywood Hills of Los Angeles, this beautiful, Oz-themed garden is full of whimsy and thrones. Local resident Gail Cottman bought the plot of land directly beneath her Hollywood Hills home. It was her intention to grow a rose garden, but it turned into something more than she could have imagined.
Cottman’s gardening contractor, Manuel Rodriguez, surrounded the roses with a bed of concrete, which he found dull. This led to him decorating the concrete with beads and tiles to make it brighter. When Cottman saw his new flowerbed design, it recalled one of her favorite movies, The Wizard of Oz, where the concept is that “everyone is their own wizard.” Using that concept, she took her rose garden to a whole new level, turning it into “Munchkinland,” a garden dedicated to her much-loved Land of Oz.Running through the shrubs is a yellow-tiled path, which represents the “Yellow Brick Road” of the beloved movie. Meanwhile, it takes visitors through a beautiful and colorful landscape. Moreover, Cottman added thrones dedicated to Duke Ellington and Elvis Presley. She also dedicated a throne to the Dalai Lama and Rosa Parks and more.
While the Garden of Oz isn’t open to the public, passersby can view the beautiful garden from the sidewalk outside. Anyone who has visited the Antoni Gaudi monuments in Barcelona will find a similar, colorful theme here in Cottman’s garden.
Have fun exploring the hidden and unique side of Los Angeles, California.