Santa Monica

Santa Monica is one of my favorite places on earth.  It is as diverse of a community as can be realized.  Boasting world famous beaches, restaurants, climate & real estate, there is something for everyone in this amazing city.  Santa Monica also provides its own city services including outstanding police & fire departments.

Santa Monica was founded in 1769 by Father Juan Crespi, an explorer of the Gaspar de Portolà. He was inspired by the free flowing springs and named the area Saint Monica, who wept for her rebellious son. Later, in the 1840’s, the Mexican-American War cost the US dearly, although the US came out on top and the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was signed, with California being born on February 2, 1848.
In the 1870’s, Colonel Robert S. Baker & wife bought the land for $54,000, which Nevada Senator, John P. Jones bought half of his interest in the land. In 1875, the two subdivided the region to create Santa Monica. The town is fronted by the ocean, and then bordered by Montana Avenue, Colorado Avenue & 26th on the North end. The Avenues are simply named after the Pacific coast states, as the streets are numbered. That same year, Jones built a railroad connecting Los Angeles & Santa Monica.
The first town hall was created in 1873, which later turned into a beer hall, and is now a part of the Santa Monica Hostel. It is known as the oldest existing structure in Santa Monica. In the 1880’s, business started to rise, centering around Third Street Promenade. The Santa Monica Hotel was built, located between Colorado and Utah (today, Broadway) Avenues, but burnt down two years later in 1887. In 1889, Senator Jones built a mansion, Miramar, and his wife, Georgina planted a Moreton Bay fig tree, which is now California’s second largest tree of its kind today, located in the courtyard of the Fairmont Miramar Hotel.
In the 1890’s, the Southern Pacific Railroad was built on the North end of Santa Monica to accommodate large ships, making it the longest pier at 4,700 ft. The plan didn’t last, as it acted as a port until 1903 and was then moved to San Pedro Bay, now known as the Port of Los Angeles. Although the move was not loved, it did allow for the Scenic part of Santa Monica to stay open, allowing the rail line from Santa Monica Canyon (sold to Pacific Electric Railroad) to stay in use until 1933. During all of this, Abbot Kinney obtained the deed to the coastal strip, naming it Ocean Park. In 1895, it became his first amusement park, with a race track and golf course, later becoming the famous Abbot Kinney of Venice of America.
When the 1900’s came about, amusement piers became very popular, with Santa Monica having five alone. The pier that Santa Monica is currently known for was built in 1909, and was later merged with a second half to form one large pier. In the South Bay, Abbot Kinney’s pier, Venice of America, was built in 1904 to rival his partner’s pier. Kinney’s pier was 900 feet long and 30 feet wide, and included a Japanese tea house, auditorium, dance hall & much more. 
At the turn of the century, Santa Monica & Venice both had a growing population of Asian-Americans. This population of Japanese & Chinese minorities became an important part of the economic growth in this area. Around the 1910’s, car racing became popular amongst the Santa Monica crowd & was later home of the United States Grand Prix in 1914 & 1916. This awarded the American Grand Prize & the Vanderbilt Cup trophies, later attracting up to 100,000 people in 1919. This vast amount of people made the city put a halt to the races.
In the 1920’s, Donald W. Douglas founded the Douglas Aircraft Company in 1921 & built a plant at Clover Field (now, known as Santa Monica Airport). A few years later, he built four planes that attempted an aerial circumnavigation around the world. After 175 days, two of the four planes made it back and were greeted by nearly 200,000 people on September 23, 1924. During the end of the 20’s, Santa Monica’s population grew from 15,000 to 32,000 & the downtown area had a construction boom, including buildings such as the Hershey’s Department Store, along with elegant hotels including the Miramar Hotel and the Club Casa del Mar
During the 1920’s, the sport of beach volleyball was believed to be developed in Santa Monica, thanks to Duke Kahanamoku, who brought the form of the game over from Hawaii when he worked as an athletic director at the Beach Club. Santa Monica soon became the sight for many celebrities when comedian, Will Rogers, bought a substantial ranch in Santa Monica Canyon. It was equipped with a Polo field, where Rogers played with friends Spencer Tracy, Walt Disney & Robert Montgomery. After selling a parcel to William Randolph Hearst, he then gave it to Marion Davies, who was a popular hostess for grand parties of Hollywood celebrities. Davies sold the property in 1945 for just $600,000 and was later sold to the State of California and was a public beach facility. This facility later became popular as the Beverly Hills 90210 TV show used it as the Beverly Hills Beach Club. 
In the 1930’s, the Great Depression hit Santa Monica deeply, dropping employment to 1,000. The amusement piers became a form of cheap entertainment, while Muscle Beach (now in Venice Beach) was known for its free shows of gymnasts & body builders, which still continues today. The S.S. Rex, a gambling ship anchored in the Santa Monica Bay, was also built in this time, holding up to 3,000 gamblers at one time. After the engine-less ship was shut down; following a 9 day battle with police officials with water cannons known as the Battle of Santa Monica Bay, the owner went on to built Stardust Casino in Las Vegas, NV. 
In 1931, a much needed benefit found Santa Monica: The DC-3 commercial aircraft was built by the Douglas Corporation. This aircraft became extremely successful, first flying from Clover Field, and brought many needed jobs to the city. Later, in 1938, the federal Works Project Administration built City Hall.
When the onset of World War II began, Douglas’ business grew increasingly. Warner Brother’s Studio created camouflage to hide the factory & the airfields, while Santa Monica City College started teaching GIs broadcasting. The Sears building was built in 1947 using an architecture style from Rowland Crawford’s Moderne-styling, which is still in tact today.
In the 1940’s, the city’s entertainment industry boomed. The Santa Monica Civic Auditorium opened in 1958 and was later used as the holding spot for the Oscar awards ceremony. Countless acts performed here, including the Beach Boys, Bill Cosby, Bob Hope & many more.  The last amusement pier was opened, also, in 1958 & held its strength against Disneyland until the late 1960’s. The Cheetah, a rock and roll club, featured performances by Pink Floyd & Alice Cooper. 
The Santa Monica Freeway was complete in 1966, bringing the promise of new prosperity. Third Street Promenade was renamed the Santa Monica Mall, failing & later turning into three blocks of retail paradise. Closing in 1968, the Douglas Plant removed Santa Monica’s biggest employment provider, reopening (decades later) for the Museum of Flying.
The 70’s brought about a new era of health & fitness. Multiple fitness related business opened, including; the Supergo bicycle shop, the Santa Monica Track & Field Club, Shotokan karate school & the World Gym chain. Jane Fonda even opened up her own small aerobics studio on Main Street. Progressivism became the main political force in Santa Monica, bringing upon the foundation of the Santa Monica’s Renters’ rights (SMRR) and created a renter’s control policy in 1979. In the late 1970’s, the sitcom, Three’s Company, was set and shot in Santa Monica. 
After the economic downfalls during the 60’s & 70’s, Santa Monica began to rebuild itself. Main Street’s low end bars & cheap furniture stores were revamped with new owners, attracting high end restaurants and expensive boutiques. The Santa Monica Pier was still an icon, although it contained lower-end activities; creepy arcade games, dilapidated bars, etc. It was severely damaged in the 1983 by El Nino, destroying more than a third of the pier. Because of the $43 million it took to rebuild the pier, it still remains the city’s most known icon. In the late 1980’s, the Santa Monica Mall was turned into the Santa Monica Promenade (today it’s known as Third Street Promenade). The taxable revenue skyrocketed 440% from 1989 to 1998, and is still a huge success today.
During the 1990’s, Santa Monica continued to grow, attracting high end corporations, including MGM, Sony, Symantec and many others. The Shutters Hotel and the Leows hotel were a couple of the several new lavish hotels starting business. In 1994, the Northridge earthquake destroyed many residence & historic buildings, mainly on the north side of town. The Evening Outlook, being open for 123 years, was closed in 1998, having a total 20,000 paid subscribers. In 1999, the State of California created a law that overrode Santa Monica’s rent control ordinance. Landlords were creating rents so ridiculous that the units remained vacant, but were now forced to lower them to more reasonable prices.
In the past decade, Santa Monica still remains popular to multiple cultures and the tourists. In 2003, a law was created that restricted the allocation of food to the homeless community, which is obviously disobeyed by some corporations. Companies are still being magnetized to the Santa Monica community, including Yahoo! and Google, both moving in 2005 & 2006 respectively. Plans to bring back the railroad system to Santa Monica have been in motion, being called the Subway to the Sea, and, if successful, should be in service in the late 2010’s.

Click above to see more information on the city of Santa Monica as well as recent Santa Monica real estate market activity. 


Timothy Joseph - Coldwell Banker - Beverly Hills North Real Estate
301 N. Canon Drive Suite E • Beverly Hills, CA 90210
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