Thursday, June 27, 2013

Santa Barbara

Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo sailed in 1542 up the Channel and made first contact with Chumash Indians in October.
About 13,000 years ago, the Chumash settled in the area of Santa Barbara.  When the Mssionaries arrived, the Chumash were living along the coast and on the Channel Islands.  There were 150 independent villages and a population of about 18,000.  Different, but related languages were spoken.
The Chumash are known for making the plank canoes, their basketry, their mysterious cave paintings and their money made from shells.

The Mission and El Presidio were settled about the same time in the 1780's.  This began an area of Colonization and the Christianization  of the Chumash.  The missions were secularized in the 1820's.  The Spanish governed the area until 1822, when California became a Mexican territory.  In 1846, Colonel Johm Fremont and his soldiers took Santa Barbara for the United States.
The Rancho Period-Agriculture and ranching became strong from 1830-1865.  Horses, cattle ranches and community were the focal points of this era.
Victorian Period began after the Civil war.  Victorian homes soon became prominent over Spanish colonials.  Shipping grew as goods and people from the east came pouring in.  This, also, became a period of great experimentation and agriculture became more important.
Santa Barbara was devastated by the 1925 earthquake.  The Spanish Colonial's survived the earthquake  and an ordinance passed making the downtown area Spanish colonial in architecture.
Santa Barbara was transformed from adobes into a rowdy, lawless Gold Rush era town or Victorian era health resort, a center of silent film production, an oil boom town, a town supporting  a military base and hospital during World War II and finally the economically diverse resort destination it is today.
The oldest human skeleton  yet found in North America is Arlington springs Man was unearthed on Santa Rosa Island, approximately 30 miles from downtown Santa Barbara.
The chumash were peaceful hunter gatherers and lived from the natural resources and navigated the ocean in tools, that were built similar to those used by the Polynesian.

First Europeans to see the area were members of a Spanish expedition led by a Portuguese explorer, who sailed through the Channel in 1542 and anchored briefly near Goleta.  Sir Francis Drake sailed past the area in 1579.  Vizcaino gave the name "Santa Barbara to the area, in gratitude for having survived a violent storm in the channel on December 3, which is the eve of the feast day of Saint Barbara.

It took until 1769 for a colonizing land presence with the arrival of Gaspar de Portola and Father Serra in upper Las Californias.  The expedition was sent by King Carlos III to occupy the region, convert the natives to Christianity and fortify it against the British empire and Russia.

Portola's expedition reached Santa Barbara on August 14, 1769.  The native's irritated the Spanish with gifts and loud music that Portola moved the camp, so the soldiers and missionaries could get some rest.  Portola did not stay and in 1782, a force of soldiers led by Don Felipe de Neve and accompanied by Father Serra built the Presidio of Santa Barbara, which was one of several military outposts meant to protect the area against foreign interests.  The presidio was finally completed in 1792.

The soldiers that came to build the Presidio had brought their families with them and many decided to stay in Santa Barbara.  The adobes were built near the Presidio and arranged haphazardly.  Many of Santa Barbara's old families are descended fro the early settlers.  Many of the street and place names are derived from the early settlers.

By 1803, the Mission's chapel was finished and by 1807, a complete village for the Indians had been completed by their own labor.  The site of the village is on the Mission grounds.

On December 21, 1812, one of the largest earthquakes in the history of California completely destroyed the first Mission, along with most of Santa Barbara.  This earthquake, also, caused a tsunami which carried water all the way to modern day Anapamu Street and carried a ship a half mile up Refugio Canyon.  After the earthquake, the Mission padres decided to build a larger and more elaborate Mission complex, which is the one that survives to the present day.  The church was completed in 1820 and the bell towers were not finished until 1833.

The most serious military threat to Santa Barbara during the Spanish period was from Hippolyte de Bourchard, a French privateer working for the Argentine government, which along with Mexico was attempting to throw off Spanish rule.  Bouchard was given the task of destroying as many Spanish assets as possible and in particular the ports in the Americas.  He had done that in Monterey, which was the capital of Alta California, before coming to Santa Barbara.

Bouchard landed at Refugio Canyon, where they pullaged  and burned the ranch belonging to the Ortega family.  Monterey alerted Santa Barbara and the Presidio despatched a squadron of cavalry who caught three stragglers and dragged them back to Santa Barbara.  Bouchard sailed to Santa Barbara a few days later and threatened to shell the town if his men were not returned.Jose de la Guerra y Noriega, who was the commandant of the Presidio granted Bouchard's request, but Bouchard did not realize he had been tricked.  Santa Barbara was not as heavily defended as it seemed to be.  The hundreds of cavalry that Bouchard had seen through his spyglass were really a few dozen men riding in large circles who were stopping and changing consumes each time they passed behind a patch of heavy brush.  Bouchard departed without destroying the town.

In 1822, the Spanish role ended and Santa Barbara, along with the rest of Alta California became a territory of Mexico.  In 1824, there was an Indian rebellion.  The Indians resented the poor and scape-goating treatment given by the soldiers at the Presidio, who were resentful of not being paid by the new government.  The rebellion was started by the inland relations of the Chumash at Mission Santa Ines and spread to Mission La Purisima Concepcion.

In Santa Barbara, cattle ranching became the predominant land use.  Horsemanship and cattle ownership were the symbols of status.  The Chumash became laborers on the ranches with the oldest established families.  During the Mexican period, Santa Barbara grew into a modest and informally organized collection of structures around the central Presidio.  By the mid-1840's, the population had reached approximately 2500.

In August, 1846, Commodore Robert F. Stockton anchored a warship in Santa Barbara harbor and deployed a contingent of ten Marines to occupy the town.  They proceeded to the Presidio, where they hoisted the Stars and Stripes over the City for the first time.  The town was peaceful, so the ten marines left and were replaced by ten calvary men from John C Fremont's army.  A contingent of a hundred Mexican cavalry sent by General Jose Maria Flores came and chased the calvary away.  The calvary fled on foot up Mission Canyon and fortified a rocky ledge below La Cumbre Peak resisting the calls to surrender, when the Mexican force set fire to the chaparral the Americans climbed over the mountain ridge going north and eventually reached Monterey and joined forces with Fremont.

The final event of the Mexican-American war for Santa Barbara was Fremont's return over San Marcos Pass which at the time was little more than a trail.  This happened on the night of December 24, 1846 during a torrential rain storm.  He led his California Battalion over the mountains.  Once he got over the mountains he spent several days regrouping and then marched into Santa Barbara to capture the Presidio with no resistance.  All the men interested in fighting had left for Los Angeles to join forces head by Flores and Andres Pico, which had assembled to defend Los Angeles.  On January 3, Fromont headed south, arriving in Los Angeles ten days later. The treaty of Cahuenga was signed on January 13, 1847, which ended the war in California.  After the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was signed a year later, Santa Barbara formally became part of the United States.

Santa Barbara began to attract settlers, as people discovered the charms; including the fact that almost anything planted would grow.  California became the 31st state in 1850 and quite soon after that Santa Barbara City and County came into being.  The population in 1850 was 1185 people, but that number doubled in ten years.

On April 9, 1850, Santa Barbara incorporated as a city and formed an official town council.  Settlers coming from the east, wanted dwellings made of wood, which had to be shipped from Oregon, as the local trees were not suitable. The import of wood was one of the issues that resulted in the development of the port.

Another consequence of the American takeover was the creation of the street grid which replace the haphazard jumble of dwellings and irregular paths.

Another change that accompanied the transformation of Santa Barbara from a small village to a significant town was the founding of the first newspaper, the Santa Barbara Gazette in 1855.  the newspaper was printed in half English and had Spanish.  Spanish remained the language used for public records until 1870.

During the 1850's, life in Santa Barbara was disrupted by men returning from gold camps in the Sierra Foothills and gangs of toughs and highwaymen.  Some targeted the Spanish population causing racial incidents.  The confrontation with the gang led by Jack Powers at the "Battle of Arroyo Burro" in 1853 in which he intimidated and drove away a posse of approximately 200 citizens was one of the most dramatic incidents of the period.  Powers was not thrown of town until some vigilantes from San Luis Obispo rode to Santa Barbara to get rid of him.  He was murdered and hurled into a den of hungry wild board in Sonora, Mexico.

In 1859, Santa Barbara recorded the highest temperature  of 133 degrees F, which was ever noted on the North American continent.  This record stood until Death Valley topped it by one degree in 1913. Two other weather events happened that had an effect on the development of Santa Barbara.  There were catastrophic floods during the winter of 1861-1862, during which the Goleta Slough, which was formerly open to deep water vessels, completely silted up, becoming the marsh it remains today and the disastrous drought of 1863, which forever ended the Rancho era, and the large ranches were broken down and sold in smaller parcels for development.

Victorian period-During the Civil War, one troop of cavalry organized to join the Union cause, but never saw action against confederate forces; they served briefly and bloodlessly in Arizona versus Apache raids.  In 1869, the first coeducational preparatory school in Southern California, Santa Barbara  College opened.  Improvement in the harbor included the building of Stearns Wharf in 1872, which increased the commercial capacity of the port.  Also in 1872, Jose Lobero built an opera house, State Street was paved and gas lamps lit downtown.

Writer Charles Nordhoff was commissioned by Southern Pacific Railroad to write about Santa Barbara and to draw Easterners to the town.  This writing was responsible for the boom in the tourism industry that commenced in the 1870's and would eventually lead to Santa Barbara becoming a world famous resort. The Arlington Hotel built in 1874 and destroyed by fire in 1909, housed many of the Eastern tourists.

The isolation of Santa Barbara ended in stages.  Stearns Wharf allowed access by steamboat in 1887, the railroad to Los Angeles was completed and in 1901, the railroad was put through to San Francisco. The day the first train arrived from San Francisco; was the last day of the stage coach over San Marcos Pass.  The first electric streetcar line opened in 1896, as the demand for transportation increased.  In 1900, the population had reached 6,587.

In the 1890's Summerland Oil Field was found and began to be developed.  Summerland was the site of the world's first offshore oil well.  Most of the oil had been pumped out by 1910, derricks remained on the beach into the 1920's and the field remained partially productive until 1940.

Santa Barbara was the center of the United States silent film industry from 1910 to 1922, before anyone associated the name "Hollywood" with movies.  The Flying A Studios, a division of the American Film Company covered two city blocks and was at a time the largest movie studio in the world.  The studios produced 1200 films during that period of time, including the world's first indoor set and likely the first animated cartoon.  Only about 100 of these films are known to have survived today.  Many of the films were westerns with Lon Chaney, Sr. and Victor Fleming as a couple of the actors.  Before the Flying A became predominant in 1911, there were 13 separate film companies.  The local film era ended in 1922 when the studios moved south, needing a larger city.

By 1920, the population had reached 19,441.  The completion of the water tunnel under the mountains to Gibraltar Reservoir on the Santa Ynez River relieved some water shortages.  A movement for city beautification began and the idea was to unify the architecture around a Spanish Colonial style, which would go along with mission and other buildings.

A very destructive earthquake happened on June 29, 1925 and was the first destructive earthquake in California since the 1906 earthquake.  The 1925 earthquake converted much of the of Santa Barbara to rubble.  The epicenter of the quake was centered on an unknown fault offshore and most of the damage came about because of two strong aftershocks, which occurred onshore and five minutes apart.

The earthquake happened at 6:23  a.m. and because of that there was a low death toll.  The was a fire after the earthquake, but it was contained by a company of Marines who had arrived immediately to maintain order.  The earthquake and the movement for architectural reform is credited with giving Santa Barbara its unified Spanish character.  The most famous new structure at the time was the Spanish-Moorish style County Courthouse completed in 1929.

In 1928, oil was found at the Ellwood OIl field and development of this new and rich pool was fast.  The peak production in 1930 was 14.6 million barrels of oil.  Derricks went along piers into the ocean and the cliffs were dotted with storage tanks.   Some of the development exists today.  In 1929, as part of the wild burst of oil drilling activity following on the Ellwood discovery, the Mesa Oil field was discovered.  The field sprouted over 100 oil derricks in the early 1930's caused the first anti-oil protest, but a local ordinance already allowed such development.  The field failure in the late 1930's allowed residential development to continue on the Mesa, although the field was not formally abandoned until 1976.

During World War II, the United States Marines took up residence on the high ground adjacent to Goleta Point, which is now the location of University California  at Santa Barbara.  The military filled in the Goleta Slough in order to expand the airport.  The United States Navy took over the harbor area and north of Point Conception, the Army created Camp Cooke, which is now Vandenberg Air Force Base.  On February 23, 1942, a Japanese submarine emerged from the ocean and lobbed about 25 shells at the Ellwood Oil facilities.  The was one of only two direct attacks on the United States mainland during the entire war and the first such attack since the War of 1812.  The attack caused $500 damage to a catwalk.  On March 2, 1942,  military authorities issued Public Proclamation #1, which began the internment of Japanese during the war.  Approximately 700 people of Japanese ancestry assembled on Cabrillo Blvd. to be taken to Manzanar.

After the war ended any people who had seen Santa Barbara during the war came back to stay.  The population grew by 10,000 by 1950.  Highway 101 was built through town during this time.

The oil industry moved most of the local operations offshore during the 1950's and 1960's.  In 1947, offshore leases were approved by the federal government and seismic exploration of the Channel took place in the 1950's; even though fishermen complained that the underwater explosions were killing fish.  The first of the large oil platforms went up in 1958.  Stearns Wharf was the main connection for all services going out to the platforms.

A blowout on January 28, 1969 on an offshore oil well at the Dos Cuadras offshore oil field spewed between 80-1000,000 barrels of oil, which produced an immense oil slick which spread over hundreds of square miles of ocean in the Santa Barbara Channel contaminating shorelines and killing wildlife and ruining the tourist industry.  GOO(Get Oil Out) was formed shortly after the spill, and oil drilling has been a sensitive subject ever since.  Consequences of the spill included the passage of the National Environmental Policy Act and the California Environmental Quality Act in 1970, which require assessment of potential environmental impacts of projects before they begin.

In 1964, the Coyote Fire burned 67,000 acres of back country along with 150 homes and briefly threatening the entire town of Montecito.  In 1977, the Sycamore Fired roared through Sycamore Canyon on the northeast fringe of Santa Barbara and destroyed over 200 homes.  Most destructive was the 1990 Painted Cave Fire, which burned over 500 homes in several hours during a Sundowner wind event.  The fire crossed over the freeway into Hope Ranch and caused over a quarter billion dollars in damage.

In the mid-1970's, the forces opposing uncontrolled growth had become stronger than those favoring development.  On April 8, 1975, the City Council passed a resolution to limit the city's population to 85,000 through zoning.  In adjacent areas, it was normal to deny water meters to developments which had been approved by the County Board of Supervisors.  The city and adjacent areas stopped growing but the price of houses rose sharply.

In 1991, voters approved connection to state water supplies and growth resumed in parts f the city, especially outlying areas.  In 2006, only 6 percent of resents could afford a median value house.  As a result, many people who work in Santa Barbara commute from adjacent, affordable areas.  The resultant traffic on incoming highways is another issue being addressed by long range planners.

The information for this post was taken from Wikipedia.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Carmel, CA

The information I am posting here was mainly taken from Wikipedia.  Carmel is truly an "art town with idiosyncrasies".

Carmel, otherwise known as Carmel-by-the Sea, is located in Monterey country, CA.  The city was founded in 1902 and incorporated on October 31, 1916.  Carmel is known for its natural scenery and rich artistic history.  In 1906, the "San Francisco Call' devoted a full page to the "artists, poets and writers of Carmel-by-the Sea" and in 1910 it reported that 60% of Carmel's houses were built by people who were "devoting their lives to work connected to the aesthetic arts."  Early City Councils were dominated by artists, and the city has had several mayors, who were poets or actors, including Herbert Heron, founder of Forest Theater; bohemian writer and actor Perry new berry and actor-direcotr Clint Eastwood, who was mayor for one term, from 1986-1988.

Forest Theater was founded in 1910 and was one of the earliest outdoor amphitheaters west of the Rockies.  Actor/director herbert Heron is generally cited as the founder and driving force and poet novelist Mary Austin is often credited with suggesting the idea.  Originally, the works were by California authors, Children's theater and the plays of Shakespeare.  The property was deeded to the City of Carmel-by-the Sea, so it could qualify for federal funding and in 1939, the site became a WPA  project.  After several years, the site re-opened as The Carmel Shakespeare Festival with Herbert Heron as its director.  The festival continued through the 1940's ; except for the years of World War II (1943-1944).  In 1949, Heron and others created the  Forest Theater Guild and while under the leadership of Cole Weston, the 60 seat Indoor Forest Theater was created.  The Guild remained active until 1961, with the closing of the original Forest Theater Guild, the outdoor theater lay unused and neglected for most of the 1960's.  From 1968-2010, Marcia Hovick's Children's Experimental Theater leased the indoor theater, which is now operated by Pacific Repertory's Theater's School of Dramatic Arts.  In 1972, a new Forest Theater Guild was created, producing musicals and adding a film series in 1997.  In 1984, Pacific Repetory Theater began producing on the outdoor stage, reactivating Herbert heron's Carmel Shakespeare Festival in 1990.  In 2005, Pac Rep presented the theater's highest attended production, Disney's Beauty and the Beast, to a combined audience of over 10,000 ticket holders.

Carmel is known for being dog friendly, as well as some unusual laws; which includes a prohibition on wearing high heel shoes without a permit.  This law was enacted to prevent lawsuits from tripping accidents caused by irregular pavements.

Carmel-by-the Sea is located on the Pacific Coast about 330 miles north of Los Angeles and 120 miles south of San Francisco.

History of the area comprises Native American, early Spanish and American history.  The Esselen speaking people were believed to be the first Native Americans to inhabit the area, but the Ohlone people pushed them south into the mountains of Big Sur around the 6th century.

In 1542, Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo led some Europeans up the California coast without landing.  These were the first Europeans to see this land.  Another sixty years passed before another Spanish explorer and Carmelite Friar Sebastian Vizcaino discovered for Spain, what is known as Carmel Valley in 1602, which he named for his patron saint, Our Lady of Mount Carmel.

The Spanish did not attempt to colonize the area until 1770, when Gaspar de Portola, along with Father Serra visited the area in search of a mission site.

From the late 18th through the early 19th century, most of the Ohlone population died out from European diseases, as well as overwork and malnutrition at the mission where the Spanish forced them to live.  When Mexico gained independence from Spain in 1821, Carmel became Mexican territory.

Mission San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo was founded on June 3 of 1770 in nearby Monterey and was relocated to Carmel by Father Serra due to the interaction between soldiers stationed at the nearby Presidio and the Native Americans.

In December, 1771, the move was completed.  The mission consisted of simple buildings of plastered mud until a more sturdy structure was built of wood from nearby pines and cypress trees to last through the seasonal rains.  This was only a temporary church until a permanent stone edifice was built.

In 1784 Father Serra died and was buried at his request at the Mission in the Sanctuary of the San Carlos next to Father Crespi.  He was buried with full military honors.

The Mission at Carmel, also contains the state's first library.

John Martin, who was a Scottish immigrant, acquired lands surrounding the Carmel mission in 1833, which he named Mission Ranch.  Carmel became part of the United States in 1848, when Mexico ceded California as a result of the Mexican American war.

Carmel-by-the Sea was lso known as "Rancho Las manzanitas" and was purchased by French businessman Honore Escolle in the 1850's.  Escolle owned the first commercial bakery, pottery kiln and brickworks in Central California. His descendants still live throughout the area.  In 1888, Escolle and Santiago Duckworth, a young Catholic developer from Monterey had dreams of establishing a Catholic retreat near the Carmel Mission.  The two filed a subdivision map with the County Recorder of Monterey County.  By 1889, 200 lots had been sold.  Carmel was applied to another place on the north bank of the Carmel River 13 miles easy-southeast of the present day Carmel.  The original post office opened in 1889 and finally closed for good in 1903.  Abbie Jane Hunter, founder of the San Francisco based Women's Real Estate Investment Company, first used Carmel by the Sea on a promotional postcard.

In 1902, james Frank Devendorf and Frank Powers of the Carmel Development Company filed a new subdivision map of the core village that became Carmel.  The post office opened in 1902.  In 1910, the Carnegie Institution established the Coastal Laboratory and a number of scientists moved to the area.

In 1905, the Carmel Arts and Crafts Club was formed to support and produce artistic works.  After the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, Carmel was deluged by all sorts of artists turning to the established artist colony after the bay city was destroyed.  The new residents were  offered home lots-ten dollars down, little or no interest, and whatever they could pay on a monthly basis.  By 19194, the Carmel Arts and Crafts Club had achieved national recognition.

In 1907, the towns'f first cultural center and theater, the Carmel Arts and Crafts Clubhouse was built.  Poets austin and Sterling performed their "private theatricals" there.  By 1913, the Arts and Crafts Club had begun organizing lessons for aspiring painters, actors and craftsmen.  Some very prominent painters in the United States offered six weeks of instruction for $15.

In 1924, the Arts and Crafts Hall was built on an adjacent site and both the clubhouse and the hall burned down in 1949.  The facilities were rebuilt as a two theater opening in 1952.

Edward Kuster designed and built the Arts and Crafts Hall and the Theater of the Golden Bough and was originally located on Ocean Ave.  Kuster was a musician and lawyer from Los Angeles who relocated to Carmel to establish his own theater and school.

In 1931, the Carmel Sunset School constructed a new auditorium complete with Gothic-inspired architecture with seating for 700.  The facility was bought by the City n 1964.  A $22 million renovation was done in 2003.

In 1949, the first Forest Theater Guild was organized, and under the leadership of Cole Weston, the 60 seat indoor Forest Theater was created.  For most of the 1960's, the outdoor theater lay unused and neglected.  In 1968, Marcia Hovick's Children Experimental Theater leased the indoor theater and continued until 2010.  In 1972, a new Forest Theater Build was incorporated and continues to produce musicals, adding a film series in 1997.

In 1984, Pacific Repertory theater initiated productions on the outdoor Forest Theater stage, reactivating Herbert Heron's Carmel Shakespeare Festival in 1990, which in 1994, expanded to include productions at the Golden Bough Playhouse.


In 1905, poet George Sterline came to Carmel and helped to establish the town's literary base.  He was associated with Mary Austin, as well as Jack London, who also spent considerable time in the Carmel and Monterey area.  In San Francisco, George Sterling was known as the "uncrowned King of Bohemia"  Following the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, George Sterling and many of his associates followed him to Carmel.  George Sterling is often credited with making Carmel famous.  In 1905, novelist Mary Austin moved to Carmel. Mary Austin is best known for her tribute to the deserts of the American Southwest in "The Land of Little Rain."

In 1914, poet Robinson Jeffers and his wife found their "inevitable place" when they first saw the Carmel-Big Sur Coast south of California's Monterey Peninsula.  Over the next decade on a windswept barren promontory, using granite boulders gathered from the rocky shore of Carmel Bay.  Jeffers built Tor house as a home and refuge for himself and his family.  It was in Tor house that Jeffers wrote all of his major poetical works.  He called his home Tor house due to the craggy knoll, the "for" on which it was built.  Carmel Point, then was a treeless headland, almost devoid of buildings.  Construction began in 1918 and the granite stones were drawn by horses from the little cove below the house.  Construction was completed in mid 1919.

In 1920, Jeffers began his work on Hawk Tower, which was meant as a retreat for his wife and sons.  Jeffers built the tower by himself in less than four years.


In 1906, Arnold Genthe, a San Francisco photographer joined the Carmel arts colony, where he was able to pursue his pioneering work in color photography.  According to the Library of Congress, where over 18,000 of his negatives  and prints are on file.  Genthe "became famous for his impressionistic portrayal of society women, artists, dancers and theater personalities."

Edward Weston, a renowned photographer, moved to Carmel in 1929 and shot the first of many nature photographs at Point Lobos, which is on the south side of Carmel Bay.  In 1936, Weston became the first photographer to receive a Guggenheim Fellowship for his work in experimental photography.  Weston had traveled extensively with Ansel Adams, who moved to the Carmel Highlands in 1962.

Gray Gables at Lincoln and Seventh was the birth place of the Carmel Art Association, and was founded by artists Josephine Culbertson and Ida Johnson.

The Carmel Bach Festival began in 1935 as a three-day festival of concerts, expanding to 3 weeks until  the 2009 season, which, due to economic concerns was reduced to two weeks.  The Festival is a celebration of music and ideas inspired by the historical and ongoing influence of J.S. Bach in the world.

New buildings must be built around existing trees and new trees are required on lots that are deemed to have an inadequate number of trees.

The one-square-mile village has no street lights or parking meters.  In addition, the businesses, cottages and houses have no street numbers.  The early artists who were the first builders of the homes in the town, named their houses, rather than having numerical addresses.  Due to the lack of numbers, the Postal Service provides no delivery of mail to individual addresses.  Instead residents go to the centrally located post office to receive their mail.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Ventura, CA

The information in this post was taken from Wikipedia and "fun in Ventura".

The official name of Ventura is San Buenaventura, which means city of good fortune.  Prior to 1891, it was known as San Buenaventura.  It is the county seat of Ventura County and was incorporated in 1866.

Father Serra founded Mission San Buenaventura in 1782, which formed the basis for the city of San Buenaventura.  The first mission burned in 1801 and a replacement building of brick and stone was completed in 1809.  The bell tower and facade of the new mission was destroyed by an 1812 earthquake.  On July 6, 1841, Governor Juan Bautista Alvarado grnted Rancho San Miguel to Felipe Lorenzana and Raymundo Olivas, whose Olivas Adobe on the banks of the Santa Clara River was the most magnificent hacienda south of Monterey.  The Chumash tribe inhabited the area and had deep roots in Central and Southern coastal regions of California and lived here for a long period of time.

After the Civil War settlers came and bought land from the Mexican or became squatters.  Much of the land was acquired by Easterners, including railroad magnate, Thomas Scott.  Scott was impressed by one of his employees, Thomas R. Bard.  Bard was in charge of train supplies to Union troops.  Scott sent Bard west to handle Scott's property.

Ventura, overall remained quiet and rural , as it was not easily accessible and after its incorporation in 1866, it remained isolated from the rest of the state.

Bard is often thought of as the Father of Ventura and his descendants have been identified with the growth of Ventura County.  The Union Oil Company was organized with Bard as president in 1890 and has offices in Santa Paula.  Ventura Oil Field was first drilled in 1919 and at its peak produced 90,000 barrels per day.  The city is located between the Ventura River and the Santa Clara River.  This location provided soil so fertile that citrus grew better here than anywhere else in the state.  The citrus farmers formed Sunkist Growers, Inc., which is the world's largest organization of citrus production.

On March 12, 1928, the St. Francis Dam, which was 54 miles inland, failed and over 600 lives were lost.  The flood reached Montalvo about 5:30 a.m. At that point in time the amount of water was 2 miles wide and traveling about 5 miles per hour.

Traveling to Ventura by car from the south was slow and hazardous until U.S. Highway 101 was completed over the Conejo grade in 1969.

If you were traveling from the north, access was by way of a single road along the beach and stagecoach passengers either had to wait until low tide when horses could cross on the exposed wet sand or go up the Ventura River Valley and then cross over the mountains to Santa Barbara via Casita Pass.  Inland, Ventura was hemmed in by the Los Padres National Forest.  This route became passable with the completion of the Maricopa Highway(Highway 33) in the 1930's.

In 1920, there were approximately 4000 people and in the last 30 years, it has increased to approximately 107,000.

Mission San Buenaventura was named for St Bonaventure.  Mission San Buenaventura was the most successful and influential of the California Missions founded by Father Serra.  After  the earthquake of 1812-1813, the Mission lands were divided up among the settlers.  Administrators were appointed to transfer the divided lands to private property owners and to proceed with secular development of the country.

The original Mission grounds expanded to the Ventura River and included a large garden of fruit vegetables and herbs.  With labor from the Chumash tribe, a reservoir and a seven-mile aqueduct is constructed to channel water to the mission from the Ventura River.  After the earthquake and tidal wave, the Padres and Native Americans were forced inland up the Ventura River, where they built temporary "casitas".  The area is now called Casitas Springs.

Rancho San Miguel stretched from the Santa Clara River to the mouth of the Ventura River and includes 4 miles of coastline.

In 1865, the Chinese were important in building railroads across California and many of the immigrants settled in Ventura county.  China Alley was established across from the Mission on Figueroa Street.  The alley contains temples, tea houses, gambling halls and a fire brigade.  By the 1870's, an anti-Chinese movement forces the Chinese out of Figueroa Street.  By the 1920's, the last of the Chinese settlements are burned downed or removed.

In 1872, Ventura has a new pier and quickly becomes the busiest port between San Pedro and San Francisco.

In 1873, Ventura becomes its own county.  In 1887, the first train pulls into the new Ventura depot on Front Street.  Rumor ias it that Buenaventura is shorten to Ventura, when it is discovered the name is too long to fit onto railway tickets and time boards.  Today, the location of the depot remains an empty lot overlooking the 101 freeway and Pacific Ocean.

In 1898, the "Tale of Two Trees" Two bluegum eucalyptus trees overlook the city are landmarks that are important to Venturians.  One tree is part of a grove of 13 trees, originally planted by Jospeh Sexton and Owen Marron.  By 1940 only five trees remained until vandals chopped down three trees.  The trees were replanted bringing the total back to vie.  In 1956, vandals again chopped down three trees leaving one original tree and one replacement tree.

In 1900, livestock is the #1 commodity; which is soon replaced by the Lima Bean making Ventura the Bean county of the nation with over 50,000 acres planed by 1920.  Today, strawberries are the #1 crop.

In 1902, as a gift to the city, Elizabeth Bard Memorial hospital was opened by the first American doctor in Ventura history, Dr. Cephas Bard and Senator Thomas Bard.  The hospital was located on the corner of Fir and Poli.  Dr. Bard's collection of Chumas artifacts are a major contribution to the Ventura County Historical Museum Collection.  Dr. Bard was the first patient to die in the hospital from cancer, a few months after its opening.  The hospital houses offices today and is the only remaining Mission Revival building in town.  Local legend has it that the building is haunted by former patients and Dr. Bard.

In 1909, E.P. Foster donates land for Seaside Park.

In 1912, with the help of E.P. Foster, Gird Percy turns the Rincon Trail, which was little more than a cow trail into the first automobile friendly highway.

1913-Ventura County Courthouse opens and serves as the courthouse through the 1960's.  Today the courthouse serves as the City Hall.

In 1917, the Ventura County fair moves from Port Hueneme to Seaside Park.

In 1918, Kenneth and Tonie Grant donate 107 hillside acres to the city of San Buenaventura.  Grant Park is a picturesque park.  There a cross on top of the park that was erected in 1782 as a marker for those traveling to Ventura.  The cross has been replaced many times.  The park is currently privately owned by San Buenaventura Heritage, Inc.

In 1936, a statue of Father Serra is placed in front of the courthouse.

In 1950, the remaining residents in an area known as Tortilla Flats was displaced by the Ventura Freeway.  Tortilla Flats consisted of working class Mexican , Chumash, Aftrican-American and "dust bowl" Anglo-Americans.  A mural is located underneath the freeway overpass,which celebrate this neighborhood as an important part of Ventura history not to be forgotten.

1960-The construction of the 101 freeway diverts travelers away from Main Street, which reduced tourism and causes businesses to suffer.