by Dave Schwab
It's the year of the pier.
More specifically, 2016 is the 50th anniversary of Ocean Beach Municipal Pier.
And in keeping with this golden milestone, Ocean Beach will mark the pier's half-century with a variety of fun celebrations throughout the year.
Additionally, Ocean Beach MainStreet Association, the beach community's business improvement district, has a “Pierbook,” where people can share their enduring memories of the iconic structure.
“July is the 50th anniversary of the pier, which opened the weekend of July 2-4 in 1966,” said Isabel Clark, OBMA's program director who's spearheading the pier celebration. “We're also collecting people's pier memories at oceanbeachsandiego.com. If people have memories they want to share, we'd love to have them so we can share them with the world.”
Clark said the notion behind the Pierbook is that Ocean Beach Pier is more than deserving of the recognition and that there are more than just a few memories to be shared.
“People have gotten married on the pier, had their first kiss there or been parents sharing special moments with their children or grandchildren there,” she said. “It's just a special, awesome place.”
Pier stories can be submitted using the form on the OBMA website or by sending the information to firstname.lastname@example.org. Submittals should include contact information as well as stories and photos that may be used in upcoming promotional materials on the website or social media channels. By submitting a story or image, respondents assert that they are the copyright holder of that media and give their consent for OBMA to use their material. For more information, or to have questions answered, call (619) 224-4906.
The Ocean Beach Municipal Pier is one of the most visited landmarks in San Diego County. It was officially christened and introduced to eager San Diegans on July 2, 1966. More than 7,000 of San Diego's then 600,000 residents showed up to celebrate the opening, including then Mayor Frank Curran and Gov. Edmund G. (Pat) Brown, who had the honor of cutting the ribbon.
Although the pier quickly became a popular destination for locals and tourists, its original purpose was for fishing. Local Ocean Beach fishermen needed a way to prevent their fishing lines and lures from getting tangled in the vast kelp and rock beds that lie near the surface of the water near the shores.
The construction of the pier enabled anglers to fish in 25 to 30 feet of water, avoiding most of the shoreline kelp and enabling them to catch species of fish that live in deeper waters.
The pier extends 1,971 feet into the ocean and is the second longest pier on the West Coast. It is purported to be the longest concrete pier in the world. Its unique T-shape at the end adds 360 feet to the south and 193 feet to the north.
The pier was not the first attempt at providing OB residents a place to fish. Prior to the completion of the pier, a 1,500-foot-long bridge had been constructed in 1915 across the mouth of Mission Bay so residents could travel from Voltaire Street to Mission Beach.
Though the bridge served its primary purpose as a means of transportation for locals, it proved to be a poor solution for the town's fishermen.
When the bridge was taken down in 1951, San Diegans were promised a replacement for the tourists and fishermen who enjoyed it. After 15 years, the city finally came through on its promise and opened what is now the OB Pier at the foot of Niagara, a location proven better suited for tourists and anglers alike.
Clark said more announcements about events to celebrate the 50th year of the pier will be forthcoming. She added the pier is becoming an increasingly important marketing symbol for Ocean Beach.
“We'll have some new banners going up in the neighborhood that will have a pier theme,” Clark said. “We really have beautiful artwork for that.”
There is also a pier jigsaw puzzle available for $25 at OBMA's office at 1868 Bacon St. or at select OB businesses. For more information, visit OceanBeachSanDiego.com. The official pier hashtag is #OBPier.