Some background (with historic photographs) - see http://www.westland.net/venice/canals.htm
Venice California originally was to be a copy of Venice, Italy, canals and all. Few of the original canals remain today.
The original sixteen miles of canals were dug in 1904 under the direction of Abbot Kinney. Man and mule worked around the clock to dig the canals in time for the grand opening of Venice on July 4, 1905. Kinney was displeased with the progress so he deployed steam dredging equipment to complete the canals on time.
When Venice of America was first conceived by Kinney, life was literately in the horse and buggy age. By the twenties, the automobile had made its mark and was here to stay. The canals were not practical for the horseless carriage. In 1929 the majority of the canals were filled in and converted to roads.
In the sixties the canals were home to beatniks and artists which soon gave way to the hippies. Rock bands and pot parties were the norm. Jim Morrison of The Doors called the canals home during the 60s. ...
As real estate prices sky-rocketed in the late seventies, the houses along the canals were remodeled and homes were built on the numerous vacant lots. Soon the affluent home owners replaced the artists and Bohemians. In 1994 after nearly thirty years of talks, Los Angeles refurbished the six remaining canals for $6,000,000. Some of the most beautiful homes on Los Angeles' West Side line the canals maintaining a unique community atmosphere. The canals today provide a sense of serenity that Venetians and tourists alike greatly appreciate.