Newport Harbor, The Canal

Photography and audio by Allen J. Schaben

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If you're cruising Coast Highway in search of the Fun Zone Ferris wheel, remember to turn seaward at the bridge. Otherwise, you'll end up at Fashion Island in a universe where "Newport Coast" means mustard-and-terra-cotta-tinted mega-mansions and "Newport Harbor: The Real Orange County" is a show on MTV.

Turn toward the ocean to the real Newport Harbor, and the focus softens. Sure, the harbor has plenty of billionaires, and old-timers complain that their porch-front views are increasingly blocked by fiberglass mega-hulls. But kayaks and skiffs also glide through the channels, and fish markets serve up fresh-caught prawns.

Despite millions of summer visitors, fewer than 23,000 people live here year-round. On weekday evenings, children race dented beach cruisers along the near-empty, 8-mph boardwalk. Balboa Boulevard's gray-shingled cottages and climbing roses have a Cape Cod patina in the fading light.

At the Fun Zone, the Ferris wheel and carousel still circle despite decades of news articles proclaiming the demise of the tiny 1930s-era amusement park. Ride owners recently posted a prominent sign: "We plan to stay!"

--Deborah Schoch

What is Street Scenes?

Southern California is a vast land of neighborhoods. Drive Olympic Boulevard in Los Angeles, for example, and you'll encounter industrial blocks, the garment district, Koreatown, West L.A. bungalows and the burgeoning entertainment district at the eastern end of Santa Monica.
But most of us don't spend time driving from neighborhood to neighborhood--so L.A. Times photographers have done it for us. Throughout the summer, we'll spotlight their portraits of a variety of neighborhoods, ranging from the Fairfax District to Newport Harbor.

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