Venice California started as Venice of America, built by tabacco Millionairre Abbot Kinney in 1905. It was a resort destination mimicking the housing of Venice italy and centered around Kinney Pier, which was essentially the Disneyland of the early 1900s.
Long story short: Kinney died, his family lost control of the land to Los Angeles which promptly paved over most of the canals and generally neglected the place, creating the slums that eventually became known as Dogtown and would ultimately give birth to skateboarding.
Today Venice is basically Hollywood by the sea, a mix of opulence and poverty, simultaneously interesting, fascinating, and revolting. The Venice of the early 1900s sounds like a much better place, but some remnants of what once was do remain, as pictured here.