April 24, 2024 #1 Local News, Information and Event Source for the Century City/Westwood areas.

History Happenings

Summer in the City
By VICTORIA TALBOT

Long before Santa Monica had its new Ferris wheel, the pier was a destination amusement park for many Los Angeles families.

Pacific Ocean Park was located on 28 acres of oceanfront property and was known as “POP†(pee-oh-pee) by residents.

Opened July 28, 1959, the park boasted a roller coaster, carousel, fun house, glass house and many of the traditional attractions that accompany on old-fashioned amusement park.

On summer days, as a child, my parents would drive us down to POP with the top down on the old Chevy.  We wanted to ride the roller coaster or see the sea lions and the dolphins, which played to audiences daily.

Disneyland was a brand-new phenomenon in 1958. But POP was much closer and the price of admission was only 90 cents for adults. It was easily affordable for a family of six, like mine.

Imagine a hot summer day at the amusement park, so close to town and still right on the ocean! The park lasted through 1965 when Santa Monica began its “urban renewal†project. Buildings nearby were demolished and streets were closed which led to the park. Attendance plummeted.

Pacific Ocean Park was closed in 1967. The assets were sold to pay creditors and the remains finally burned in 1974-1975 fires. It was located just south of today’s Santa Monica Pier.

We also often drove to the Malibu Sea Lion for dinner on a summer day. In the parking lot, enclosed inside a pit were a group of sea lions.

Chris Polos, a penniless immigrant from Greece, owned the Malibu Sea Lion. Polos transformed a small roadside café into one of the most popular destinations in Malibu. Now Duke’s, the old Sea Lion was destroyed by fire in 1964. Polos immediately rebuilt it.

Polos died at the age of 99.

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