While driving down the road in Venice, California it can be easy to forget that many of the roads were once actual canals, and that the traffic was not SUV’s but actual Gondolas.
There were about 36 or so Gondolas brought over from Italy by steamship, and they were accompanied by Gondoliers. It was this romantic scene, of gondola’s making their way through the canal system and down the Grand Canal (now Grand Blvd) that inspired the “Venice of the West” title.
Stranded and landlocked on the canal turned boulevard is a recreation of a Gondola, painted blue and set down in the middle of a traffic circle.
Today it can be hard to find even one Gondola - though as you drive down Grand Canal you may see one, stranded in a traffic circle. In fact not only can the Gondola not touch water, but if you get close you will see a sign asking that you not touch the fragile Gondola replica.
Nearby it is still possible to glimpse Abbott Kinney’s vision for the Venice of America, with neighborhoods set along his man-made canals.