Abbot Kinney (Abbot Kinney)

Abbot Kinney

Industrialist and Real Estate Baron. An important figure in Los Angeles history, Abbot Kinney founded the nearby city of Venice, California. Convinced that the area’s mild climate would attract artists from around the world, Kinney decided to provide the setting for this cultural renaissance by re-creating Venice,  Italy,  just south of Santa Monica.  In 1902 he began hiring architects and engineers to create a canal system and a master plan of buildings with magnificent Venetian colannaded facades.  “Venice of America”,  as it was originally called,  opened on July 4,  1905.  Kinney’s new city was Hollywood fantasy before Hollywood existed,  with gondolas and costumed gondoliers plying the canals,  arched bridges,  exotic hotels,  pavilions,  and a 1600-foot amusement pier.  Venice was incorporated into the City of Los Angeles in 1925.  Today,  little remains of Kinney’s dream.  Most of the canals were declared health hazards and turned into paved roads in 1929,  and only scattered remnants of the original architecture still stand.  By the 1950’s Venice had become so seedy that director Orson Welles was able to use it as a stand-in for a decrepit Tex-Mex border town in his film “Touch of Evil” (1958).  But around this time the cultural renaissance Kinney had predicted began to happen.  A Venice club called The Gashouse was the headquarters of L. A.’s beatnik community,  and its notoriety brought an influx of young artists looking for low-rent studio and living space.  Now Venice is renowned as a colorful,  freewheeling bohemian enclave.  Abbot Kinney was born in New Brunswick,  New Jersey.  He inherited his father’s successful tobacco business and made his own fortune manufacturing Sweet Caporal cigarettes.  After travelling the world,  he settled in Los Angeles in 1880 and ventured into real estate.  In 1891 Kinney built the beach resort of Ocean Park,  which became the nucleus of Venice.  He died of lung cancer two weeks short of his 70th birthday.  One of Venice’s main thoroughfares,  Abbot Kinney Boulevard,  is named for him. (bio by: Bobb Edwards)  Family links:  Parents:  Mary Cogswell Kinney (1814 – 1877)  Spouses:  Margaret Thornton Kinney (1864 – 1911)*  Winifred Kinney (1870 – 1927)*  Children:  Lucy Crittenden Kinney (1885 – 1891)*  Thornton Kinney (1886 – 1973)*  Kent Kinney (1889 – 1904)*  Sherwood Kinney (1891 – 1944)*  Innes Kinney (1892 – 1933)*  Siblings:  Nathaniel Cogswell Kinney (____ – 1881)*  Ernest Lord Kinney (1841 – 1890)*  Abbot Kinney (1850 – 1920) *Calculated relationship

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  • November, 16, 1850
  • USA
  • New Brunswick, New Jersey


  • November, 11, 1920
  • USA
  • Santa Monica, California


  • Woodlawn Cemetery
  • Santa Monica, California
  • USA

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