Monday, March 1, 2010

Another Rainy Day in Bay City

In the 1930s, corruption infected Santa Monica (along with neighboring Los Angeles). This aspect of the city is depicted in various Raymond Chandler novels thinly disguised as Bay City. Chandler's "Farewell, My Lovely" was inspired by the true story of the S.S. Rex. Beginning in 1928, gambling ships started anchoring in Santa Monica Bay just beyond the 3-mile (5.6 km) limit. Water taxis ferried patrons from Santa Monica and Venice. The largest such ship was the S.S. Rex, launched in 1938 and capable of holding up to 3,000 gamblers at a time. The Rex was a red flag to anti-gambling interests. After state Attorney General Earl Warren got a court order to shut the ships down as a nuisance, the crew of the Rex initially fought off police by using water cannons and brandishing sub-machine guns. The engine-less ship surrendered after nine days in what newspapers called The Battle of Santa Monica Bay. Its owner, Anthony Cornero, went on to build the Stardust casino in Las Vegas, Nevada.

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