Saturday, January 17, 2015
Let's go to Santa Catalina Island (or just "Catalina" to her friends)! It is one of the Channel Island of California, and is located about 22 miles off the coast of Los Angeles - a mere half hour by ferry. The island itself is about 22 miles long and 8 miles across, and Mount Orizaba is its highest point at 2,097 feet.
I love this first shot of the steamship "SS Catalina", also known as "The Great White Steamer". From 1924 until 1975, it carried passengers to and from the island; the Steamship Historical Society of America says that the Catalina has carried more passengers than ANY other vehicle anywhere - an estimated 25 million people. (I have to wonder if the Disneyland Railroad has carried more, but maybe amusement park rides don't count). It also served as a troop transport during WWII. In its later years it fell victim to neglect, and was finally scrapped in 2009.
Here's another shot showing the SS Catalina moored in the harbor of Avalon, the island's only incorporated city (with a population under 4000). A trip to the island is almost like a little trip to Europe, only everyone speaks Yankee! It didn't really become a tourist destination until chewing gum magnate William Wrigley Jr. developed it starting in the 1920's. Wrigley also owned the Chicago Cubs, who used the island for spring training until 1951.
The most recognizable building is the Casino, built in 1928. Wikipedia sez: "With a height equal to a 12-story building, it was built to serve as a theatre on the main floor and a ballroom and promenade on the upper level. Movie studio tycoons such a Cecil B. DeMille, Louis B. Mayer, and Samuel Goldwyn frequently came by yacht to the Casino to preview their newest cinema productions. It also serves as the island's civil defense shelter, large enough to accommodate Catalina's entire year-round population. Within its walls is stored enough food and water for all Avalon's residents for two weeks".
I mostly remember the famous glass-bottom boat tours, as well as night excursions in which the lovable flying fishes could be induced to soar when a brilliant searchlight was aimed at the water. This photo amazed me, since similar diving bell attractions could be found at the Long Beach Pike and Pacific Ocean Park. I never knew that one could be found on Catalina! Assuming that this one worked the same as the others, guests would be lowered under water, and then the diving bell would be allowed to pop up like a cork.
I have more vintage Catalina photos to share… I hope you have enjoyed your visit!