Venice of America was founded by tobacco millionaire Abbot Kinney in 1905 as a beach resort town. When Venice of America opened on July 4, 1905, Kinney had dug several miles of canals to drain the marshes for his residential area and bring a taste of Venice to America. In 1924 the city decided it needed more roads and most of the canals were filled in to pave them. After lots of court hearings from the residents about whether or not it was legal to fill them in, the Supreme Court ruled it was in 1928. By the end of the year, almost all of the canals were gone, save the ones that are still here to this day.
The Venice Canal Historic District is embedded in the residential Venice suburb of Los Angeles The historic district is noteworthy for possessing man-made wetland canals, built in 1905 by developer Abbot Kinney as part of his Venice of America. Kinney sought to recreate the appearance and feel of Venice, Italy in coastal LA
Another set of canals were built south of the Venice Canals, originally known as the New Amsterdam Canals by investors and architects, . The canals which were lit and featured gondoliers and arched bridges drew widespread publicity and helped sell lots in the development.
By the 1920s, with cars quickly gaining popularity, the canals were viewed by many as outdated, and as a result a number of canals were filled in to make room for paved roads. By 1940 the remaining canals had fallen into disrepair, and the sidewalks were condemned. The district remained in poor condition for more than 40 years but some of the canals were finally renovated in the 1990s and have become a desirable and expensive residential section of the city.
The water enters the canals through sea gates in the nearby Marina Del Rey breakwater which open and close to help drain the canals .