You know that bright greenish-blue color that jumps out at you when you look at the Avalon Pleasure Pier? I'm told that some people like it so well that they have the hardware store mix up batches of it for their do-it-yourself projects. They call it Pier Green. I think it looks pretty cool from the water, and from the land, too. But I can't imagine living in a house that color. Or trying to sleep in a bedroom painted that shade.
It works for the Avalon pier, though. I always walk to the end to watch people fishing, admire the boats in the bay and get panoramic views of the town. If I look over the side into the clear blue water, I usually can see a bright orange Garibaldi or two, in addition to schools of small fish flashing by.
But I've always wondered how the 407-foot pier came to be painted that screaming blue-green color, trimmed in dazzling white. So let's take a stroll into the past, with a little help from the folks at the Catalina Island Museum.
Avalon's first pier, built in 1906 to serve a burgeoning tourist resort, was destroyed by a storm two years later. The next year, an island improvement association received permission to build a new one and it quickly took shape. In 1914, it was sold to the City of Avalon for $5, A year later it was named the Pleasure Pier; now it's also called the Green Pier, or Green Pleasure Pier. The stand-out color was a favorite of Dorothy Shepard, a well-known graphic artist who, with her husband Otis, created many of the designs we see in Avalon today.
In the 1930s, the couple was hired by P.K. Wrigley, son of island entrepreneur and chewing gum magnate William Wrigley, to improve the rustic look of the city. The Shepards spent four years on the Island redesigning paradise, including such things as the location of palm trees planted in the town of Avalon and the uniforms worn by island employees.
Dorothy helped design Crescent Avenue, the street facing the bay, giving Avalon an early California appearance. Meanwhile, Otis Shepard created brochures for would-be tourists.
They did other designs for the Wrigley empire, too, including ads for Juicy Fruit and Doublemint gum.
There are lots of things to like about Avalon's pier, including fish-and-chips stands, the Chamber of Commerce visitor's booth, and the distinctive clock on top of the harbormaster's tower, a gift of the Rotary Club in 1982. Not to mention Joe's Rent-a-Boat, which is celebrating its 90th season.
But Dorothy's colorful green paint is the thing most of us think of when someone mentions the pier. If you're looking for greener pastures, it's the place to go.
by Rosemary McClure