From the Archives: 1930s beachfront homes in Newport Beach

Beach houses in Newport Beach
Beach houses at water’s edge in Newport Beach in 1934.
(Los Angeles Times Archive/UCLA)

Many of the original Newport Beach homes sat on the beach. But a series of storms and high tides in 1933-34 led homeowners to rethink this strategy.

The Los Angeles Times reported on Oct. 25, 1933: “The heavy high tides that have been pounding on the coastline of West Newport for about a month, are growing heavier and the damage is increasing. Entire yards have been washed back from fifty to 100 feet, and a mile of coastline is affected.”

26th Street washed away in Newport Beach
Sept. 6, 1934: Scene in Newport Beach, where the foot of 26th Street has been washed away by tides. Truckloads of rock are being dumped in an attempt to prevent further destruction by pounding of the waves. This photo appeared in the Sept. 7, 1934, Los Angeles Times.
(Los Angeles Times)

During the second half of 1934, damage from high tides and storms worsened. On Sept. 7, 1934, the Los Angeles Times reported: “Recurrence of giant waves pounding with relentless fury against the Southern California beach area yesterday added to the mounting toll of damage caused during the last forty-eight hours.

“The destructive combers continued to undermine dwellings near the water’s edge at West Newport Beach. Scores of property owners were preparing last night to move their homes to safer locations.”

At lease nine similar stories on Newport Beach coastal damage appeared in The Times between Aug. 22 and Dec. 10, 1934.

For more, check out the July 7, 2019, Los Angeles Times special project: California Against the Sea.

Beach houses threatened by high tides in Newport Beach.
September 1934: Beach houses threatened by high tides in Newport Beach. The image was taken after high tides had receded. The area in the foreground of this photo had flooded.
(Los Angeles Times Archive / UCLA)

Newport Beach home damaged by high tides
1934: Four men standing in surf add boards to the damaged foundation of a house threatened by high tides.
(Los Angeles Times Archive / UCLA)
A beach house on stilts at water’s edge at Newport Beach.
Octobert 1933: A beach house on stilts at water’s edge at Newport Beach. During the next year, destructive high tides either destroyed the beach homes or forced their removal farther inland.
(Los Angeles Times Archive / UCLA)