The Marina Peninsula is 50! It has a rich, colorful history that is fun to explore. Here are some highlights!
Fist thing you should know is that only 50,000 years ago we were totally underwater! Lowering sea levels exposed a tidal marsh fed by the Ballona Creek. B.P. means “Before Present” in case you were wondering.
Let’s hope that global warming and melting poles don’t take us back in time to the last big melt down.
The first MPCC members: The Tongva Tribe
The Tongva were Uto-Aztecan speaking peoples who came from the Mohave Desert about 3-5 thousand years ago. Their village was near what we know today as the Los Angeles River. In this fertile area seeds, nuts, and fruits grew, and while acorns were a staple in their diet, these ancient peoples also hunted small game. During this time, fish, shell fish, and water fowl were plentiful. The Tongva traveled to nearby islands in intricately fabricated canoes. The Spanish and Mexican invasions, followed by white settlers, sealed the tribes fate.
Cows, Cars and Oil
Around 1820, a mestizo rancher named Augustine Machado chose Ballona Wetlands to graze his cattle. After claiming fourteen-thousand acres thanks to a land grant provided by the Mexican government, Machado took ownership of the area that today stretches from Culver City to Pico Blvd. in Santa Monica. Machado called the land “Rancho La Ballona.” While the Machados became wealthy, Ballona suffered its first major blow due to the conflicting needs between the natural landscape and the grazing livestock.
After Machado lost his claim to the land , the first signs of industry started appearing in and around Ballona. While these businesses thrived, the tides and weather inevitably proved much too strong for the owners, eventually washing away any profitable establishment in the area .
In the 1920’s, the invention of the car made the beach more accessible than ever, inspiring hopeful builders to set their sights on the high grounds. They named their new development Palisades del Rey. When oil was discovered shortly thereafter, the tourism and new, major motion picture industries took a back seat to the promise of black-gold. As had occurred in the past, Ballona was yet again subjected to harsh, unsustainable conditions that left the wetlands disfigured and grossly polluted.
The Army Corps of Engineers makes a Marina
The time of the aviation age brought about heightened interest in development. During this time The Army Corps of Engineers invested much of their efforts into flood-control. They dredged and cemented the banks and bottoms and installed flap gates to drain freshwater run-off. This new system made way for more establishments during the 1930’s-1960’s that would further disturb Ballona’s natural landscape.
The single most devastating blow, however, came in the 1960’s with the construction of Marina del Rey. Over 900 acres of wetlands were destroyed for its construction, since the Coastal Commission did not exist back then to ensure protection of the wetlands.