Venice Peep Hole Box

Los Angeles Explorers Guild: Venice Peep Hole Box

Venice Peep Hole Box

Venice, California — If you’re paying attention, you may notice a rather unobtrusive, slightly rusted, metal box in the middle of a busy shopping district, beckoning you to take a peek inside …

As you stroll down Abbot Kinney Boulevard, if not overwhelmed by the glitz and glamor of the all those high-end shops, you may notice a small box, about the size of a shoebox, mounted on a pole at the corner of Abbot Kinney and Andalusia Avenue.

The box is emblazoned with the words “Peek” and “Peek Here,” accompanied by arrows pointing to a small, perfectly round, plexiglass-covered hole at the front of the box.

It’s very hard for me to pass up an offer as enticing as this. So I peeked inside and was treated to a delightful look into Venice’s past.

A Peek Back at Venice of America

Upon placing your face against this strange metal box and peering into its depths, you’re rewarded with an idyllic scene that anyone could have witnessed circa 1911 Venice.

Take a peek. Photo from the author’s collection.

When you look through the small hole of the Venice Peep Hole Box, you’re whisked 110 years into the past when Venice, California was built around 13 canals. An intricate 3D diorama transports you to the confluence of Coral Canal (now Main Street) and Venus Canal (now San Juan Street), looking toward the Venice Lagoon (now Windward Circle).

Venice Peep Hole Box: Looking toward the Lagoon
The view would have been from somewhere around here.

In the foreground, you see a quartet of people floating in a rowboat in the middle of the flower-lined Coral Canal. Behind them is another boat, occupied by a couple, approaching one of Venice’s iconic bridges. And in the in the distance you can see the top of the Race Thru the Clouds roller coaster poking up above the canals.

Los Angeles Explorers Guild: Venice Peep Hole Box
Inside the Venice Peep Hole Box. Photo from the author’s collection.

Race Thru the Clouds was a wooden twin-track racing roller coaster once located at the Venice Lagoon, right around where Winward Circle is today. The coaster was built in 1911 (so that dates the the diorama to 1911 Venice at the earliest). Race Thru the Clouds was immensely popular and entertained thrillseekers for 13 years. After going through a few remodels to make the ride steeper and faster, it was torn down in 1924 to make way for new development that never came about.

Race Thru the Clouds: Venice Roller Coaster
Race Thru the Clouds in the early days. Photo from the Ernest Marquez Collection at the Huntington Digital Library.

The Artist Behind the Peep

The Venice Peep Hole Box is the work of artist Robin Murez. It’s part of her Venice Public Art, project featuring 20 works of public art in and around the Venice area celebrating the era of Abbot Kinney’s Venice of America.

Murez is a bit of a Venice firebrand. She used to own a studio on Abbot Kinney before the rents got out of control, and she seems to long for a Venice more in tune with Abbott Kinney’s original vision for serene canals than the car-clogged roadways that dominate it today.

Murez was even arrested for her art — some local folks got upset at her as she painted little blue waves on the streets that used to be canals for her wonderful Kinney Canals Overlay project.

She now has a studio at 2935 Main Street in Santa Monica, and you can visit it on Facebook.

Side note: One of Murez’s pieces of Venice public art, the Coin Toss Thaumatrope Scultpure (at 1337 Abbot Kinney), has recently gone missing. If you have any news about it, please contact Robin at the Facebook link above.


Venice Peep Hole


More Venice Explorations …

Venice Canals. Los Angeles Explorers Guild.

Venice Canals

Venice, California has a (somewhat) secluded series of networked canals, patterned after those of its namesake Italian city.

Keep reading

Tom Fassbender is a writer of things with a strong adventurous streak. When not exploring Los Angeles, he’s been known to enjoy a cup of coffee or two. You can find him at Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

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