Beachfront property taken from black owners in the '20s may be returned 100 years later

Bruce's Beach was a black-owned resort in Southern California's Manhattan Beach in the 1920s. While most public beaches were segregated and only accessible to white visitors, Bruce's was a lone haven, providing patrons with a chance to enjoy an exclusively black beach, dance hall, bathhouse, and lodge. The resort was hugely popular for a time, attracting the attention of local racists and Klan members who attempted to terrorize the owners and patrons into leaving. They hung no trespassing signs, slashed tires, and burned down the house of a local black family. When that didn't work, the city declared eminent domain and seized the property, paying the Bruces about $14,235, a small fraction of its worth. The property then sat empty for decades.

"The Bruces had their California dream stolen from them," said county Supervisor Janice Hahn. "Generations of their descendants … almost certainly would have been millionaires if they had been able to keep their property and their successful business."

– via CNN

A bill being introduced this week would transfer ownership of the property, currently a park and life guard facility, back to the Bruces' descendants. The property is now worth about $75 million.

The Bruces died just five years after having their property stolen by the city. They suffered physical and emotional trauma and were unable to secure another location to start a new resort. They spent their final years as laborers in South Los Angeles.