grand canal on Balboa Island, California
In 1908 and 1909, with permission of the Orange County Board of Supervisors, William Collins, a real estate promoter from Pasedena, moved his small dredge to the eastern part of the Newport bay, a mud flat called "Snipe Island," and begin cutting a channel along the north side of the bay across from the Pavilion, pilling the sand and silt up on the mud flat and thus Balboa Island was born.
Welcome to Balboa Island :
History of Balboa Island - Come see what made this historic island great.
About The balboa island improvement association
In 1918 the Balboa Island Improvement Association was started (and is still going strong). The BIIA was a strong motivating force in working with the City on bulkhead repair, ferry service, a sewer system, water, gas, electricity, paved streets and sidewalks, and street lighting.
At this same time an advertising campaign was prepared offering lots
for $350.00 - $750.00. The high-priced lots were located on the waterfront. However, despite the advertisements, Collins originally sold lots on the Island for as little as $25, with promises that all streets, sewers and street lights would be soon installed and a bridge and ferry service would soon follow. Soon thereafter, construction began for the ferry landing, streets were staked out, lots were mapped, and a few narrow sidewalks were built.
Balboa Island was a summer vacation place. Most homes had no heaters, and were closed up in the winter. Families came down for the entire summer. Cooking was done on a gasoline stove as there was no gas or electricity. Coal oil lanterns and candles were used. The first "seawall", a wooden bulkhead that protected part of the Island, was built in 1909. This 14-inch wooden bulkhead was built along the south side of the island and an impromptu sewer system was laid out with pipes draining onto the beaches at their low tide levels to keep the discharge out of sight. This was partially replaced by a cement barrier (cheap German cement) in 1912. Water lines to the Island were first laid in 1914.
The seawall was rebuilt in 1922. The Grand Canal wooden bulkhead and walk was rebuilt with concrete in 1929. The present day Bayfront bulkheads, walks and public piers were completed in 1938.
In 1924, the narrow bridge to Balboa Island was replaced with two lanes of wood. That bridge existed until 1928, when it was demolished to make way for a Concrete Bridge. Some of the wood from the old bridge was used to construct the building next to the "Jolly Roger" restaurant on Marine Avenue. (now Wilma's). In 1929, a new Concrete Bridge was built and served for 51 years. In 1981, the Bridge was replaced with a modern concrete structure with 9' wide walks.