Monday, November 3, 2008

The "Washington Mutual Gondola" - Venice, California

After so many posts highlighting the glory days of Venice, California, I've been asked by many folks "are there any gondolas there now?"

Well, there aren't any in the water any more, but if you look around, you might just see some in other places.

The most visible is the gondola in front of Washington Mutual at 1415 Lincoln Boulevard.
It's a little ways north of the intersection of Lincoln and Venice Blvd.
An easy landmark would be the El Pollo Loco next door.

This is a real eye-catcher.
She's royal blue with bright yellow accents and striping (WaMu colors, of course).
There are curious vents on both ends of the vessel - probably to prevent interior rot.
At the very tail, if you look closely, there's a tiny "Windward" tag. My guess is that Marina Del Rey's oldest and largest yacht maintenance company - Windward Yacht Center - maintains this gondola.
I wonder if she's seaworthy.

I'm not sure what the story is with the ferro. It looks like at one time, there could have been fingers facing fore and aft like a traditional ferro. It's hard to say.
What we do notice, of course, is the "WMB" inset in the ferro blade.
It stands for Washington Mutual Bank, and I may be going out on a limb here, but I believe we're looking at the only bank with a gondola on it's lawn.

Sure, we all know of at least a few gondolas which are "owned" by a bank, some that have been repo'd by banks, but I think this is the only gondola deliberately owned by a bank.
Many locals have held onto the belief that this is one of the original fleet of gondolas brought in by Abbott Kinney around 1905, but she doesn't have the right dimensions to be a Venice-built gondola (at least not from the Venice in Italy).

Last time I was there, I didn't have my tape measure, but I'd estimate that she's not quite 25 feet long.

I've heard that this boat may have originally served as a parade float.

She's not currently passenger-ready.
I'm told that at one time there was a true passenger area, but as you can see, it's been sealed off.
A seat-back remains to give a genuine appearance.

I know, I know,
you're thinking:
"what the heck is up with that forcola?"

It's actually better than some amateur-carved ones I've seen.

here's another view of the ferro and a vent in the hull.
Is it just me or does this gondola also match the ROSS sign quite nicely too!

So there she is folks,
The "WaMu Gondola!"

Anybody else seen a gondola on display like this?


René Seindal said...

I have noted that many gondolas from Venice CA are different from the real Venetian gondolas, but this one has a kind of Fisher Price air over it.

If I had passed it by, I would have shrugged it off as a cheap look-a-like made specifically for publicity. It just doesn't look real.

Anonymous said...

"Anybody else seen a gondola on display like this?" Yes, have a look at the Walt Disney cartoons.

Anonymous said...

I have heard it said that the two oar boats on Alamitos Bay had their lines taken from a gondola in front of a bank. This could be the one! Do you know how long it has been there?