Monday, March 25, 2013
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.