When I moved to Los Angeles eight years ago and worked in an office on Abbot Kinney, it still had that vibe that you could be anything and anybody and find a home in Venice.
It was refreshing – especially for someone like me whose wardrobe is allergic to designer labels and whose flatiron is gathering dust in the dark corner of some drawer. Cool and I are polar opposites. Back in those days I could grab my breakfast at Abbot’s Habit coffee shop – standing in line with the Trinidadian nanny who was buying breakfast for her celebrity charges (Julia Roberts’ twins) – then go in the parking lot in the back and stumble across a drug deal.
There was an unwritten rule that only unique boutiques and one-of-a-kind businesses could set up shop on the roughly mile-long street that is a stone’s throw from the beach. Now it is home to the Lucky Brand jeans chain.
“Venice used to be the best-kept secret in the world,” says Mary Campbell, a 43-year-old artist from Colorado who has lived just off the boardwalk for 20 years. “Nowhere else in the world could poor people live this close to the beach. That’s gone. The first thing that attracted me to Venice when I moved here was it was the only place in the world where you had the economic classes mingling. You had the Shoreline Crips gang and then over on the canals you had rich people. Everybody was together. It was the ghetto by the sea.”
Local Expert Louise has a favorite hotel in Venice Beach. Check it out!