The picturesque canals of Venice, California, are one of the seaside community's hidden charms, secreted away from the hustle and bustle of the famous boardwalk. But in Venice's early years, the canals that survive today -- restored in the 1990s after decades of neglect -- were only a sideshow. The main attraction -- the original canals of Abbot Kinney's Venice of America -- are lost to history, long ago filled in and now disguised as residential streets.In planning Venice of America, cigarette baron Abbot Kinney incorporated several references to the community's Mediterranean namesake, from the Italianate architecture to his fanciful notion of launching a cultural renaissance there. But Venice of America would not have lived up to its name were it not for its canals. When it opened on July 4, 1905, Venice of America boasted seven distinct canals arranged in an irregular grid pattern, as seen below in Kinney's master plan for the community, preserved today in the Los Angeles Public Library Map Collection. Totaling nearly two miles and dredged out of former saltwater marshlands, the canals encircled four islands, including the tiny triangular United States Island. The widest of them, the appropriately named Grand Canal, terminated at a large saltwater bathing lake. Three of the smaller canals referred to heavenly bodies: Aldebaran, Venus, and Altair.