Manhattan Beach has an interesting history, before it was a town, it was part of the ten-mile ocean frontage of Rancho Sausal Redondo, which means "Round Clump of Willows. Gregory Peck (the actor) who owned a section of the north end of town, called it “Shore Acres”. In 1901, Stewart Merrill bought the south portion and called his section Manhattan after his old home in New York City. Peck and Merrill actually flipped a coin to agree on a city name, Manhattan won.
Merrill built a small frame building in 1901, which was the start of the downtown; in 1912 Manhattan was incorporated, planks were laid in the sand on Manhattan Avenue for vehicles and along the Strand and side streets for pedestrians. Two wooden piers were build in 1901, one at Center Street and one at Marine Avenue. The Center Street pier supported a wave motor to generate power for the Strand lighting system. Purportedly, part of the wave motor lies buried in the sands at the shore end of the present pier.
After World War II, many servicemen settled here due to the climate and the proximity to the beach, but it was the development of the defense industry that brought the most people to Manhattan to live and work.
Fondest memory: Actually the defense industry was the reason for my leaving Kansas and its damaging tornadoes and to seek work on the sunny shores of the Southern California coast. Even then, Manhattan Beach was the “in” place to go for dinner and dancing, and it continues to be a town for the young and the young at heart.
go to the beach. Manhattan Beach has some of the best beaches anywhere and probably the best in LA. MB is the birthplace to beach volleyball and has some great surf in the El Porto section of the city. For those visitors looking for the 'Baywatch' atmosphere, look no further than my hometown. (They make you believe they are talking about Santa Monica, but it is really MB they are imitating!)
Fondest memory: waking up on a beautiful Sunday morning in January to 70 degree temps. Played two hours of beach volleyball with some friends and then had lunch at the local Brewery (see restaurant recommendations below and also check out JR's recs for a great description of their signature appetizer!). Finished the day off watching the sunset with some friends while drinking mango margaritas and listening to the soothing sounds of Mr. Jimmy Buffett.
Gawk at and dream about living right off the beach in M.B.- the richest oceanside neighborhood of Los Angeles county by far! Take a tour here. I'll take the first mansion.