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I just saw a 1930s photo of Marion Davies’ beach house in Santa Monica, and the ocean almost touches the property line. These days the Pacific seems to be about a quarter mile away. What happened?

Photograph courtesy joeruggiero.blogpspot.com

A big pile of rocks happened.The Santa Monica breakwater opened in 1934 to accommodate yachts and all other amenities the big neon pier sign promises. In later decades seaside construction projects dumped unwanted sand there. The beach had quintupled in size by the 1960s, when the estate that William Randolph Hearst built was flourishing as a private club. Now anyone can frolic at the Annenberg Community Beach House that replaced it.