September 13, 2012

Photo Essay: Surfridge, LAX's Beachside Ghost Town - Part Two

...Continued from Part One...

When I got to Sandpiper Street, the only non-fenced street that runs through Surfridge, I hadn't walked around the entire perimeter of the LAX-bordering ghost town yet, but I chose to stop and walk through the town rather than proceed farther south along the border of the airport. After all, this was probably going to be my only way in.

I saw few signs of Surfridge's vandalized past - only a sole, rusty can, possibly of spray paint, tucked next to the ubiquitous chain link fence.

Several roads bisect the town from every direction, with weeds sprouting up through them, with no regard for their pavement.

Planes fly like migrating birds overhead, their engine roar a deafening call of their journey. Beyond the south side of Sandpiper, the land is industrial rather than residential - decidedly more municipal than what I imagined had been razed beyond the north side.

Although already atop a bluff above the beach, at this point, Surfridge becomes downright hilly, ascending to a peak elevation...

...ripe for planespotting. I was not alone, but my fellow trespasser was enrapt with the sky above, and now with the streets below, as I was.

As the road crests over the hill, the ocean opens up below...

...and you can imagine why this view was so sought-after by beach-dwellers and Hollywood elite, and why being cast out of Surfridge was such a loss for its residents.

The old asphalt continues to crumble, weathered only by sea air and not by wheel or foot, and nature slowly takes over. Greenery sprouts from below, reaching towards the sun. Perhaps one of those landscapers will come wack the weeds.

LAX seems to have no plans for Surfridge, other than doing nothing to let anyone enjoy the view.

I never actually got inside of the fence, which was particularly frustrating on the beach-side of Surfridge where you can see a couple standing foundations that remain beyond the threatening signs prohibiting trespassing and loitering (the latter of which I was most certainly guilty).

But amidst some of the palms that managed to be spared outside of the fence...

...and the stairs that now lead to nowhere...

...I did see one patched area that clearly used to be the way in, for someone, at least once.

I remind myself that, by choosing to walk down Sandpiper, I didn't actually walk around the entire property - only the entire northern chunk. Perhaps more delights await in the southern chunk, even closer to LAX. I'll have to go back.

In the meantime, the area is largely untouched, where birds intermingle with planes in the sky, flying equally as low, circling in memoriam of the lives that once thrived in Surfridge.

Related Posts:
Photo Essay: Surfridge, LAX's Beachside Ghost Town - Part One
The Road to Nowhere


  1. Your trailblazing must make you a Surfridgette.

  2. Thanks for the tour of a lost world....

  3. So sad that there is not any way into this area, even for pedestrians to enjoy walking along the coastline. I've always been fascinated by this area.

  4. They could turn this into a park

  5. Living on the east coast I had not been to this area since 1992, pre-9/11 when I used to watch planes take off and land from my Sandpiper St. vantage point. Visited LA area in late 2021, fascinated that the area is still heavily fenced and untouched with heavily enforced "no stopping" along Vista Del Mar, police patrolling on motorcycles. The tiny pocket park along the fenceline has a porta potty and maybe 8 parallel parking spaces, always full, and a real danger to back into or open your car door with traffic wizzing by on the highway. Thank you for posting those great pictures, better then the ones I took from a moving rental car.

  6. To get a better feel for the location of the former Surfridge use Google
    earth/maps and search for LAX. The multiple airport runways consume all of the property on the east side. The ocean is accessible from the public Dockweiler Beach facility to the west of the property.

    Why isn't the property accessible? Good question. If the jet noise impacts are debilitating to human hearing, why is there a state beach located below the runways? Does the ocean surf sound mitigate jet noise to beach goers? While having physical structures and people congregating in the runway Doolittle Zone is regulated by FAA, it seems that removing the remaining infrastructure (roads, overhead poles) and restoring the dunes to a more natural condition and facilitate habitat conversion would be a plus.

    Of course, the land would need to have greater maintenance and management than fences and "No Entry" signs.