The first downtown building was built by Merrill around 1901.
Cities like Manhattan Beach don't just appear -- yet, comparatively speaking, the history of Manhattan Beach covers a relatively short span. In its earliest days, Manhattan Beach was part of the ten-mile ocean frontage of Rancho Sausal Redondo, which means "Round Clump of Willows."
In 1901, John Merrill bought the south portion and called his section Manhattan after his old home, New York City. The first downtown building was built by Merrill around 1901, a small frame building later used for city offices. The official date of incorporation was December 2, 1912. Two wooden piers were built in 1901, one at Center Street and one at Marine Avenue. The Center Street pier supported a wave motor to generate power for the Strand lighting system. Purportedly, part of the wave motor lies buried in the sands at the shore end of the present pier. The next pier was built on the same site and extended about 922 feet into the ocean. Engineer A.L. Harris developed the concept of the circular end for less exposure and damage to the pilings by the waves. The pier was completed and dedicated on July 5, 1920. After World War II a large influx of people came to Manhattan Beach as a result of the desirability of the area for year-round living. Servicemen visiting during the war returned to live here. Since then the beach town has continued to flourish enticing those looking for year round beauty and a small town feel to make it their home.
Today, the city of Manhattan beach is comprised of approximately 35,000 residents. A four mile walking/running path called the greenbelt runs from the northern most part of town through the neighboring town Hermosa Beach. Manhattan is broken into four distinct areas that the locals call the Sand Section, the Tree Section, the Hill Section and East Manhattan. There are five local public grade schools, one middle school and a high school that educates both Manhattan Beach and neighboring Hermosa Beach students.
Manhattan Beach is divided into four distinct areas; the Sand Section, the Hill Section, the Tree Section and East Manhattan.
The Sand Section is closest to the beach and water as its name implies and is walking distance to shops and restaurants in the local downtown area. Downtown includes many unique and quaint shops and high end boutiques as well as fabulous local eateries and gourmet restaurants. The pier is accessible from most of the Sand Section and is home to the town Aquarium, famous for teaching our residents about local sea life and preservation of our beautiful beaches. The real estate in the Sand Section consists of smaller plots of land, many with ocean views and walking distance to the beach. There are "walk streets" running east to west that creates neighborhoods in front of homes where cars cannot drive. The most expensive properties in town line the Strand or walking path along the beach and range from $4MM up to over $20MM.
The Tree Section is north east of the Sand Section and home to many local families. Similar to the Sand Section most of this area is within walking distance to town and the beach, but offers slightly larger pieces of land which allows for homes to be a little farther apart. The name was derived from the diverse collection of mature trees that line many of the streets there. The small town atmosphere in the Tree Section creates close knit neighborhoods.
The Hill Section is South East of the Sand Section and is the second most expensive area in town. Because of its rolling nature, many of the homes have ocean and/or city views. The lots are generally larger and have space for large yards.
East of Sepulveda or more widely known as Pacific Coast Highway, is East Manhattan. Just over a mile from the beach, this area allows for bigger lots and more separation from one's neighbors. Residents migrating from the east coast seem to feel more at home here, with the formal sidewalks and large front and back yards.