Thursday, February 16, 2012

My LA: Manhattan Beach

MANHATTAN BEACH reflects L.A.’s coastal attraction without telling you all about it. With that said, I am going to tell you a little about it. Originally owned by George Peck, this area was called “Shores Acres.” In 1901, John Merrill bought the south portion and hoped to name it after his old home in New York City—Manhattan. However, Peck was not in favor of Merrill’s suggestion, so the two maturely decided to flip a coin to decide on the name.
Whether heads or tails determined Manhattan Beach is up for debate, but my first tale from Manhattan Beach came by means of surfing. Local surfer Ryan Miller, who grew up surfing in San Diego, described surfing the beach’s El Porto break by saying, “the water is barely blue anymore because of the pollution and urban runoff, and the waves are nothing special.” Despite the water’s pollution, it continues to attract local surfers that are experienced enough to tackle big waves elsewhere, but settle for its close proximity. It also attracts inexperienced surfers that are looking for a place to get started. I viewed myself in this latter category the first time I got in the water. I was nervous and terrified. All I could see were waves crashing and surfers nearly crashing into one another. It seemed like driving through traffic without brakes. With all this in mind, I chose the most undesirable surf break, and left the best spots for those willing to rub surf wax with one another. After only days of surfing I soon learned that El Porto provided me with an opportunity to be comfortable in my own wetsuit and enjoy the waist to shoulder high, and occasionally overhead, waves it had to offer.
Since learning to surf I have had many more opportunities to enjoy what Manhattan Beach has to offer. For instance, while parking blocks inland from the beach to avoid overly priced quarter-per-ten minute parking I stumbled upon its residential neighborhoods. Even blocks from the sand many homes reflected the city’s beach theme. Three-story, light blue and white homes were piled among one another. One home had a large wooden sign in its front yard with arrows indicating the directions of the beach and work. In these areas, despite the lack of any view of the beach you can still smell a healthy dose of salt water, and the homes are tightly packed amongst one another as they would appear on the Stand. Speaking of the Stand, these homes sit with their feet buried in the sand reflecting various architecture and age, but all have one common denominator; the homes found here rival Bel-Air in terms of half-acre real estate by $15 million. Clearly, Manhattan Beach can be home to many walks of life. From professional athletes like Blake Griffin to everyday beach goers it offers a taste of L.A. without compromising its beachfront property.
As I have frequented Manhattan Beach for non-surf related reasons I have continued to enjoy what I have found. The Village offers commercial shopping and dining experiences with its mall and chain restaurants. While the shops restaurants between the beach and Sepulveda offer unique experiences, such as Uncle Bill’s Pancake House and The Kettle. As a college student it as has been a nice outlet at any time of day or night. With all these attractions in mind, it is no wonder that modern television utilized Manhattan Beach’s local high school and beach as a fictional representation of Orange County in Fox Television’s hit show The O.C.
--Art Flores
Caption: The Strand
Photo Credits: Mike Dunitz,

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