Dateline: Santa Monica, 1924

If you pick your way along the paths that front the ocean between Malibu and the Santa Monica Pier, you’d best stay heads up from your phone, lest you get creamed by slender blondes and bronzed others ricocheting past on a run.

That’s not the Santa Monica that Donald Douglas knew—nearly a century has passed since he first walked down to the shoreline from his new house on San Vicente Boulevard in the early Thirties.

What would you have seen, though? I follow a couple of historical accounts on X/Twitter, including Pamela Grayson’s Lost Los Angeles, and the Santa Monica History Museum. Recently they’ve published a few photos from late 1923 into 1924… take a look at the pier that was—and the fire that nearly wiped out the Ocean Park Pier.

This is the scene within which the Douglas Aircraft Company finished assembly and test flying of its Douglas World Cruisers ahead of their planned launch from Clover Field (now KSMO) on March 16.

You might also enjoy this piece from Los Angeles Magazine, “When Santa Monica Airport Was Clover Field,” published in 2014.