Main Content

History of Manhattan Beach, California

Name Origin

When people hear of the place, Manhattan Beach, it is likely that many people’s minds will initially jump to the iconic Big Apple. How did the well known name, “Manhattan”, make its way across the country to the West Coast in California? Interestingly enough, it was decided by the flip of a coin.

It was originally called “Shore Acres” by one of the pioneer land owners, George Peck. John Merrill, a New York City man, bought a portion of the area and wanted to name it after his previous beloved home of Manhattan. The gentlemen decided to resolve this dilemma with a coin toss. Can you guess who won?


Happily winning the dispute, John Merrill went on to build the first building in 1901. Freight and passenger railroad tracks were already laid down passing through Manhattan Beach in 1888 as part of the Santa Fe Railroad as there was previously nothing but sand dunes. The tracks ran through Manhattan Beach to Redondo Beach and a substation was later constructed at Center Street (present day Manhattan Beach Boulevard). Wooden planks were built over the sand dunes forming Manhattan Avenue for civilians and vehicles. Modern day Manhattan Beach still has a lot of sand dunes which are easily observed in its northern region such as in El Porto, home of the beloved Sand Dunes Park enjoyed by both locals and tourists alike.

Other early structures that were also built in 1901 are the two wooden piers. The Manhattan Beach Pier is still frequented today marked as a state historic landmark.

A Growing Population

Manhattan Beach was initially advocated as a place to stay for a summer vacation with trolleys full of people from Pasadena and Los Angeles coming in to be greeted by a real estate agent who would try to convince them to buy property.

It wasn’t until after WWII that Manhattan Beach really picked up traction and gained attention. Many saw it as an attractive option to live year round and it became a popular destination for servicemen returning from the war. Manhattan Beach has remained an enticing area for its vibrant beach culture, beautiful year round weather, and gorgeous homes. There are a variety of styles of homes for sale in Manhattan Beach from contemporary to modern farmhouse. Browse the available Manhattan Beach homes for sale.


Contact Me

Keep up to date with the latest market trends and opportunities in

Los Angeles.