Old Salt Lake | Virtual Museum
The archaeological component is entirely missing from this 1944 study. However, implementation of the recommendations made in the study could have inadvertently saved the famous archaeological sites at and near the Redondo shoreline. The famous Malaga Cove (CA-LAN-138) site is located as indicated in the photo on page 31 of the 1944 study - on the bluff highlighted in green and visualized as a park. Instead the archaeological site was destroyed in 1955 by private development. The same is true for Palmer-Redondo (CA-LAN-127) and the Old Salt Lake or Engva site, etc. Those sites had a chance with this 1944 Los Angeles County shoreline recreation master plan piece.
Since the late 1870's a major recreation activity was "pot hunting" on the shoreline area discussed on pages 31-33 of the 1944 study - looking for artifacts from previous cultures of people who had lived right there for some 7 or 8 thousand years. Collections of artifacts were being excavated by pot hunters and amateur archaeologists, for instance, right from the Malaga Cove archaeological site - while the 1944 Shoreline Development Study was being drafted. The suggestion in the 1944 study to take sand off the bluffs at Torrance Beach to restore the beach sand is an example of how clueless even the best and thoughtful planners were about the ecological, anthropological and archaeological components of beach life on this shoreline. That being said, the authors of the 1944 study were quite right about the shore sand erosion problem caused by the 1939 breakwater put in at Redondo.
Predictably, this assessment of the shoreline situation in 1944 is the same reality today. The difference today is the natural resources of the shoreline (and archaeological sites) have experienced man-caused devastation due to private development - as was called out in the 1944 study could happen. This old study's very good visualizations and recommendations for the best use of the shoreline are now physically and culturally impossible to implement.
_____ [ The Study ] _____
1944 Shoreline Development Study, Playa del Rey to Palos Verdes
A portion of a proposed Master Recreation Plan For the Greater Los Angeles Region.
Published by Greater Los Angeles Citizens Committee. Inc. April, 1944, Los Angeles, 1944. Submitted by the Greater Los Angeles Citizens Committee, Inc., to the Board of Supervisors of the County of Los Angeles, the Mayor and City Council of the City of Los Angeles, and the Mayors and City Councils of Santa Monica Bay cities.
[ The text from the above Torrance Beach and Palos Verdes page is transcribed below. ]
To the north of and adjoining Palos Verdes estates, situated atop the picturesque cliffs which provide a vantage point for an inspiring view of the entire Santa Monica Bay is an area of approximately sixty-five acres ideal for park development. Features of the suggested development plan include a trailer camp, a naturally sheltered sports area, picnic groves, bridle trails, and exploratory walks leading to lookouts or down the cliffs to interesting marine formations and a sandy beach. The park site contains the only available source of sand needed to restore the beaches of the Redondo area. Early acquisition of this virgin lad is desirable to forestall exploitation for private purposes. The purchase would would be minor, as the land is now delinquent.
[ The text from the above Redondo Beach page is transcribed below. ]
Redondo Beach, once rated as an outstanding recreational community, now finds the facilities which attracted vast beach throngs in the past have through neglect and misuse become so unattractive and blighted as to no longer appeal to the recreation seeker. Commercial pleasure zones, once popular, lie idle and rotting, a shoddy barrier to the ocean view. Erosion, which has been accelerated by construction of the harbor-breakwater, has stripped a fine beach of its sand. Unfortunate attempts to develop industry have resulted in a backwash of abandoned structures and large areas of blight. In order regain her lost prestige as a recreational community, bold steps must be taken. The regional park which is illustrated above provides a basic plan for such action. Major features include the use of the abandoned Pacific Electric Railroad right of way as a link in the shoreline pleasure drive; the clearing of structures between the drive and the beach front to establish parking areas and beach facilities; the transforming of the salt marsh to a body of quiet water for boating; and the reconstruction of the abandoned steam plant as a community center housing a civic auditorium and recreational facilities. The surrounding land, when acquired and cleared, will provide areas for playgrounds and picnic facilities.
Proposed Shore Line Parkway Development Visualized
Plan for Redevelopment of Shore Area Drafted
Los Angeles Times, May 30, 1944
Beaches in the City
The Quest for the Ideal Urban Beach in Postwar Los Angeles
by Elsa Devienne , 6 July 2011
Playgrounds for the Nation
The 1940s Master Plans for the development of Los Angeles' shoreline reflected the attempt to turn the Los Angeles beaches into practical playgrounds for a large population: as playgrounds, they ought to be accessible, well planned, and well-organized. At stake was the economic well-being of the region. As one study explained in plain words, the Angelenos "could not afford to neglect the 'goose that lays our golden eggs,'"; the goose being the region's beaches and parks. The beaches did attract tourists and retirees to the region and as such they formed the central theme of advertising campaigns organized by the All-Year Club of Southern California up until the 1960s. Moreover, the beaches were believed to be healthy alternatives to commercial recreational facilities. They could channel the youth's energy and therefore offered an inexpensive solution to what was considered a typical urban-ill: juvenile delinquency. However, the authorities also had to face the fact that beaches were not mere playgrounds but living organisms, or at least, complex ecosystems that needed to be studied thoroughly in order to understand their functioning. The ideal urban beach was then a place where functionality and orderliness as well as the respect for nature's whims were taken into account. This proved to be a difficult ideal to realize even with the help of engineers, urban planners and beach associations and the great amount of studies and reports that they produced in the 1940s.