It’s that time of year again. As seconds, minutes, days, hours tick by and Fall quickly approaches, I believe that it is our duty as Californians to soak up as much sun as possible and enjoy the last bits of summer. I can’t think of a better destination to embrace summer feels than The Balboa Pavilion.  

When looking past the present-day glitz and glam that Newport Beach is infamous for, meaningful history can be found woven into the Peninsula; The three mile long stretch of land wedged between the harbor and ocean was named after Spanish explorer Vasco Núñez de Balboa. It is home to the Balboa Pavilion, also known as California Historical Landmark #959 and National Historic Landmark #84000914. 

The formative years that transformed Balboa Pavilion from swampland to a beach-front destination also helped shape the culture of Orange County.

    • 1888: The McFadden family moved their shipping business to the wharf, now known as the Newport Pier. Eventually, their shipping business turned into a commercial shipping center because the San Pedro Harbor was renovated, lessening the demand for the McFadden Wharf.   
    • 1902: William Collins believed that the swampland, known as Newport Harbor, had potential to become a beachfront resort. He purchased the Newport Wharf, dredged a channel on the north side of the bay, and deposited the sand and soil, creating Balboa Island.
    • 1905: The War Department in Washington D.C. granted a group of promoters, the “Newport Bay Investment Company,” permission to construct the Pavilion. What was originally built for $15,000, evolved into property worth over $6 million according to the City of Newport Beach.

  • 1906: The Pavilion was completed at the same time as the Red Car Line. The line began in Pasadena and ended at the Pavilion, allowing passengers to travel from far away locations to the beach-front destination. The Pavilion became a social hub for dancing, fishing and holidays.
  • 1936: The Balboa Fun Zone was the brainchild of Al Anderson. It featured a small beach and ferris wheel that overlooked the buzzing harbor. It has since been renovated, but maintains the same authentic feel. From the dock in the Fun Zone, visitors can hop on the Catalina Flyer, or embark on a whale watching expedition.  

The Pavilion transferred ownership many times, but never lost its seaside appeal. The Pavilion is Newport Beach’s oldest standing building and has irreversibly transformed the culture of the surrounding areas for the better.

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