This month marks 100 years since work began on the Santa Monica Pier, according to a story in the Daily Breeze (and its co-papers): "What people know as the Santa Monica Pier is actually a pairing of the Looff and Municipal piers. . . The Municipal Pier opened first, on Sept. 9, 1909, after 16 months of construction. It was erected as part of a sanitation system for the new city of Santa Monica," per the story by Josh Grossberg.
Officially, the 1600-foot pier was built to house pipes that carried raw sewage out beyond the breakers, so that said sewage could be dumped into the ocean.
The Looff Pier came along years later, when Charles Looff, who built Coney Island's first roller coaster, moved to Long Beach, and began eyeing Santa Monica as a location for his next project. That's from the SM Pier's official website and the Pacific Park site. Looff Pier is where the Hippodrome building is. Another history is at the SM Landmarks site.This picture of the Looff Pier in 1918 is from the SM Landmarks site.
So the real festivities will kick off in September 2009, and the Pier website is soliciting memories and anecdotes at its site. The city has a $100,000 "Preserve America" grant to cover the celebrations.The Santa Monica Conservancy has published a walking guide to the pier and its history which you can get free for the asking--just email firstname.lastname@example.org.