Just like carnivals, theme parks on piers were traditional attractions and entertainment back in the days. A stand-out, Pacific Ocean Park was once a widely known all-around hang-out spot. As a matter of fact, tt was the favorite surfing spot of the Z-boys of Dogtown. [See my entry on Venice Beach about them] It was closed due to renovation projects that blocked its streets leading to the site. Other California rides were long dissipated through time and other forms of entertainment, or due to storm devastation and such.
One hundred years gone by and Santa Monica still cherishes that glory days.
Other than the ferris wheel there’s rollercoaster, carousel and arcade center. Like California traditions, I’ve seen birders, meditators, evangelist preachers, street musicians and jugglers during my visits there. It’s also a known setting to drop a knee and pop the question. There’s a good variety of restaurants in the pier.