Never Built: The battle over the Santa Monica Pier

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 “Never Built” is a fascinating new show at the A&D Museum in mid-Wilshire featuring fabulous, sometimes visionary plans for Southern California that never happened. As part of KCRW’s Design and Architecture coverage, we produced this four part series  on some of the most fascinating projects that were never built. 

Larry Barber speaks at the February 13 Council meeting to save the pier.
Larry Barber speaks at a Council meeting to save the pier, February 13, 1973. (Photo from “Santa Monica Pier: A Century on the Last Pleasure Pier” by James Harris) (The original image is no longer available, please contact KCRW if you need access to the original image.)

In the late-’60’s, Santa Monica was literally growing up. Two 17-story apartment buildings were built along the beach near the southern edge of the city. Four more were planned. Single family homes south of Wilshire were torn down to build apartment buildings. In 1971, the city’s first real high-rise went up. That white, 21-story office building that still overlooks the ocean where Wilshire meets the sea. And then there was The Island: A proposed man-made, 35-acre island, right off the beach, connected to the mainland by a sinuous automobile causeway.

But building the island would mean destroying the Santa Monica Pier and the fight to save the beloved pier would transform Santa Monica.