The story of Bruce’s Beach begins with the Tongva, who roamed the dunes and gathered seafood along this windy stretch of coast. Then came the Spanish, and by the early 1900s, George Peck and others developed what is known today as Manhattan Beach.
In 1912, Willa Bruce purchased for $1,225 the first of two lots along the Strand between 26th and 27th streets. While her husband, Charles, worked as a dining-car chef on the train running between Salt Lake City and Los Angeles, Willa ran a popular lodge, cafe and dance hall — providing Black families a way to enjoy a weekend on the coast.
Many referred to this area as Bruce’s Beach. A few more Black families bought and built their own cottages by the sea. A community was born.