From the Archives: Oil production booms, then quickly wanes in Venice

January 1931: The Grand Canal in Venice is surrounded by oil derricks.
(Elias J. Spencer / Los Angeles Times)

In just over a year in the early 1930s, a section of Venice had gone from zero oil derricks to dozens.

This image accompanied a story by Porter Flint in the Jan. 5, 1931, Los Angeles Times. Flint reported:

“So this is Venice!” Every day you hear that exclamation at that resort beside the sea, where oil was discovered December 18, 1929, by the Ohio Oil Company. Today, instead of a city of attractive residences, you find an industry which represents an investment thought to exceed $26,000,000 — a transformation accomplished within the space of one year.

Venice today cannot show many landmarks reminding one of its glorious past — gaunt, 130-foot steel derricks proclaiming to its populace that it has at last become an oil center, have turned it into a center of bright lights, oily smells and hamburger stands. Substantial buildings of brick and stone, erected before the oil boom started, have been razed to make way for thundering trucks and tanks. School houses are standing deserted, etc. …


The Venice oil fields were short-lived. At its peak, Flint reported production of 48,000 barrels a day. By December 1930, production was 15,000 barrels a day.

“Oil derricks strung out from Thirtieth avenue to Fifty-fourth avenue in a straight line down the edge of the pounding surf,” Flint reported.

The streets south of 30th Avenue since have been renamed — 35th Avenue is now Eastwind Street.

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