The History of Malibu Piers
Throughout the history of Malibu the ocean has been the geographical focal point of the area. The Santa Monica Bay was the boundary that hemmed in the land of Malibu between the Mountains and sea. There were 3 4 significant piers in the history of the Malibu area from which commerce and later recreational activities took place.
(The Long Wharf) (The Malibu Pier) (The Paradise Cove Pier)
The Long Wharf, The Port of Los Angeles, Mile Long Pier
The first pier was actually called a wharf and technically was not in Malibu but right next door in Pacific Palisades. Known as the Long Wharf, Port of Los Angeles or the Mile Long Pier at the time it was built was the longest wharf in the world. Built in 1892 by the Southern Pacific Railroad, the long wharf served as a cargo and passenger port until 1913 and was removed by 1920. A plaque commemorating the Long Wharf location between Temescal Canyon and West Channel Road is all that remains.
The Malibu Pier
The iconic Malibu Pier was built in 1905 by Fredrick Hasting Rindge. Used by the Rindge Family, the original owners of Malibu, to support the Malibu Rancho operations. Located at famed Surfrider Beach the Malibu Pier is the focal point of Malibu. The Malibu Pier opened to the public in 1934 and offered chartered fishing. The Coast Guard used the Pier as a lookout station until 1943 when a storm destroyed the end of the pier and the building at the end of the pier. After World War II the twin buildings at the end of the pier were built that are still there today. The base of the Malibu Pier became a restaurant known as the Malibu Sports Club in 1966 and later the famous Alice’s Restaurant until the pier closed in the late 1990’s due to deferred maintenance by the California State Parks. After restoration the Pier reopened in 2008 and today it is a thriving tourist attraction and home to the Farm restaurant.
The Paradise Cove Pier
The final pier in Malibu is at Paradise Cove. This pier was once significantly bigger than what is present today. Built in 1945 the Paradise Cove Pier was a sport fishing pier and boat launch. You used to be able to bring your own boat and the hoist would drop you into the Santa Monica Bay in Malibu. If you did not have a boat they would rent you a little red dingy from their fleet that lined the pier. It was not unusual to see all kinds of private small boats and the Red rentals out fishing and motoring around the bay. In addition to the private boats there were 2 recreational fishing boats that operated out of Paradise Cove. The Speed Twin and Gentleman were sport fishing boats that left everyday to fish the waters off Malibu. Home to the Rockford Files and many other famous TV and Movie shoots the Paradise Cove Pier was the site of the famous Fonzie jumping the shark scene from Happy Days TV Show. Unfortunately, in 1983 the large El Nino storms destroyed 2/3 of the pier and it was never rebuilt. Today it is a small little stub out into the water which is only a shadow of its former self.
Malibu’s piers are famous for being in many films and iconic photo shoots as well as a part of the rich tradition of Malibu’s History.
The Big Sycamore Canyon Pier
Thank you to my long time friend and client Cody Shirk it was brought to my attention that I left the Big Sycamore Canyon Pier out of my blog. Truth be told, I did not even know about this pier and was surprised to learn about the Pier. I have been to Sycamore Cove State Park hundreds of times mountain biking or stopping in at the beach to eat a to go meal from Tacos De Mexico in Oxnard on my way home to Malibu.
The Big Sycamore Canyon Pier was located 3 miles east of Point Mugu and 4 miles west of the Ventura County Line. First opened in 1940, The Big Sycamore Canyon Pier was part of a mobile home park known as the “Sycamore Fishing Village”, with cabin lounge, sun room, dining room, and fishing barge. Five months after the pier was built it along with shore structures were damaged by winter storms. Little is known about the history of the pier from the 1050’s and 1960’s. In 1968 the California State Parks acquired 6,438 Acres of land including the pier in what today is known as Point Mugu State Park. In 1972 the California State Parks leveled the pier and buildings to make the Sycamore Cove Beach recreation area. There was one beach shack left for use by the State Lifeguards, which I do remember and was present for many parties that went into the wee hours of the night. I had no idea that there was ever a pier there all those times I went to parties at the “Cove House”. Sadly even the Cove House succumbed to Mother Nature and was swallowed up by the waves. Today there is a State Parks office building, Day use beach area with Barbeques, and all that is left of the pier is the remnants of the pier pilings that show themselves on low tide after a winter storm.
Thank you to Cody and his father Walt for the photos and reminding me that looking into Malibu’s history is always a fun and interesting endeavor.