Santa Monica is a coastal city in western Los Angeles County, California, USA. Situated on Santa Monica Bay of the Pacific Ocean, it is completely surrounded by the City of Los Angeles - Pacific Palisades and Brentwood on the north, West Los Angeles and Mar Vista on the east, and Venice on the south.
The Census Bureau 2006 population estimate for Santa Monica is 88,050, while a 2007 estimate from the California State Department of Finance places the population at 91,124.Santa Monica is named for Saint Monica of Hippo because the area on which the city is now located was first visited by Spaniards on her feast day. In the skateboard and surfing communities, Santa Monica's Ocean Park neighborhood and adjacent parts of Venice are sometimes called Dogtown. Santa Monica is sometimes referred to with the colloquial abbreviation "SaMo," a precursor to similar terms such as NoHo and WeHo.
Because of its agreeable weather, Santa Monica had become a famed resort town by the early 20th century. The city has experienced a boom since the late 1980s through the revitalization of its downtown core with significant job growth and increased tourism.
The History of Santa Monica, California, USA, covers the significant events and movements in Santa Monica's past. While intertwined with the history of its larger neighbor, Los Angeles, Santa Monica has led an independent existence in modern times.
Santa Monica was long inhabited by the Tongva people.
The first Caucasian group to set foot in the area was the party of explorer Gaspar de Portolà, who camped near present day Wilshire Boulevard on August 3, 1769. There are two different versions of the naming of the city. One says that it was named in honor of the feast day of Saint Monica (mother of Saint Augustine), while the other says that it was named on account of a dripping spring that was reminiscent of the tears that Saint Monica shed over her son's early impiety.
Regarding the latter, one of the padres noted in his diary that the group found a Gabrioleno spring (where University High School is today). They re-named it "Spring of Saint Monica" to recall the tears that St. Monica had for her reckless son, Augustine. This spring remains holy to the Natives Americans in the area.
The Californios valiantly defended their territories against the Manifest Destiny colonial expanision of the United States westward during the Mexican-American War. The annexiation of Mexican territories cost the US dearly, it was by far bloodiest war per capita the US had ever fought against a foreign country (CIA website). Specifically in Los Angeles several battles were fought by the Californios, however in the end the US came out victorious. Mexico signed the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, which gave Mexicans and Californios living in state certain unalienable rights. US Govt sovereignty over California was born on February 2, 1848.
The northern sections of the City of Santa Monica once belonged to Rancho San Vicente y Santa Monica and Rancho Boca de Santa Monica. Jose del Carmen Sepulveda of the prominent Sepulveda family sold 38,409 acres (155 km²) of the land for $54,000 in 1872 to Colonel Robert A. Baker and his wife, Arcadia Bandini de Stearns Baker. Bandini was the daughter of Juan Bandini, a prominent and wealthy early Californian, and was the widow of Abel Stearns, once the richest man in Los Angeles. Nevada Senator John P. Jones bought a half interest in Baker's property in 1874. The first lots in Santa Monica were sold on July 15, 1875. The residents voted to incorporate November 30, 1886, creating a mayor-council government. The first town hall was a modest 1873 brick building, later a beer hall, and now part of the Santa Monica Hostel. It is Santa Monica's oldest extant structure.
The southwestern section of the city originally belonged to the Rancho la Ballona of the Machado and Talamantes families. Mrs. Nancy A. Lucas purchased 861 acres (3.5 km²) from the rancho in 1874 for $11,000. The property was farmed by her sons, and a parcel of 100 acres (400,000 m²) was sold to W.D. Vawter for subdivision in 1884.
Business started springing up. The town's new business district was initially centered around the current Third Street Promenade. Early street names consisted of both numbers and the names of western States; however Utah eventually became Broadway and Oregon became Santa Monica Boulevard.
By 1885 the town's first hotel, the Santa Monica Hotel, was constructed on Ocean Ave., between Colorado and Utah in 1885. The Hotel burned in 1887. The 125-room "Arcadia Hotel" opened on January 25, 1887. Named for Arcadia Bandini, it was one of the great hotels on the Pacific Coast of its era. The hotel was the site where Colonel Griffith J. Griffith shot his wife in 1904, which led to their divorce and his (short) imprisonment.
Santa Monica was incorporated as a city in 1886 with Juan José Carrillo elected as the first mayor.
Senator Jones built a mansion, Miramar, and his wife planted a Moreton Bay Fig tree in its front yard in 1889. (The tree is now in the courtyard of the Fairmont Miramar Hotel and is the second-largest such tree in California.)
When the Southern Pacific Railroad arrived at Los Angeles a controversy erupted over where to locate the sea port. The SP preferred Santa Monica, while others advocated for San Pedro Bay. The Long Wharf was built in 1893 at the north end of Santa Monica to accommodate large ships and was dubbed Port Los Angeles. At the time it was constructed it was the longest pier in the world at 4700 feet, and accommodated a train. The plan did not last: San Pedro Bay, now known as the Port of Los Angeles, was selected by the United States Congress in 1897. Still, the Long Wharf acted as the major port of call for Los Angeles until 1903. Though the final decision disappointed Jones and other property owners, the selection allowed Santa Monica to maintain its scenic charm. The rail line down to Santa Monica Canyon was sold to the Pacific Electric Railroad, and was in use from 1891 to 1933.
Meanwhile, Abbot Kinney acquired deed to the coastal strip previously purchased by W.D. Vawter and named the area Ocean Park in 1895. It became his first amusement park and residential project. A race track and golf course were built on the Ocean Park Casino. After a falling out with his partners he focused on the south end of the property, which he made into Venice of America.
Amusement piers became enormously popular in the first decades of the 20th century. The extensive Pacific Electric Railroad easily transported to the beaches people from across Greater Los Angeles. Competing pier owners commissioned ever larger roller coaster rides. Wooden piers turned out to be readily flammable, but even destroyed piers were soon replaced. There were five piers in Santa Monica alone, with several more down the coast. The earliest part of the current Santa Monica Pier, which is now the last remaining amusement pier, was built in 1909 on what was referred to as the North Bay. The second half, an amusement park pier, was built later and the two rival piers were merged.
Among the South Bay piers, the most notable in this period was Abbot Kinney's Venice of America pier, started in 1904 and built to rival his former partner's Ocean Park Pier. Located at the end of Windward Avenue in Venice, Kinney's pier was 900 feet long, 30 feet wide and included an Auditorium, large replica Ship Cafe, Dance Hall, Dentzel carousel, a Japanese Tea House and an Ocean Inn Restaurant. Venice soon became considered its own neighborhood.
At the turn of the century, a growing population of Asian-Americans lived in or near Santa Monica and Venice. A Japanese fishing village was located near the Long Wharf while small numbers of Chinese lived or worked in both Santa Monica and Venice. The two ethnic minorities were often viewed differently by White Americans who were often well-disposed towards the Japanese but condescending towards the Chinese. The Japanese village fishermen were an integral economic part of the Santa Monica Bay community.
The Ocean Park Pier burned down in 1912. In its place was Fraser's Million Dollar amusement pier, which claimed to be the largest in the world at 1250 feet long and 300 feet wide. The pier housed a spacious dance hall, two carousels, the Crooked House fun house, the Grand Electric Railroad, the Starland Vaudeville Theater, Breaker's Restaurant and a Panama Canal model exhibit. It too burned within the year.
A new charter was adopted in 1914 that converted the city government to a commission form. This proved to be very weak, especially since the police commissioner was poorly paid and had no accountability.
Car racing became popular. Drivers would race an 8.4 mile loop made up of city streets. The Free-For-All Race was conducted between 1910-1912. The United States Grand Prix was held in Santa Monica in 1914 and 1916, awarding the American Grand Prize and the Vanderbilt Cup trophies. By 1919 the events were attracting 100,000 people, at which point the city halted them.
Donald W. Douglas founded the Douglas Aircraft Company in 1921 with his first plant on Wilshire Boulevard. He built a plant in 1922 at Clover Field (Santa Monica Airport), which was in use for 46 years. In 1924 four Douglas-built planes took off from Clover Field to attempt the first aerial circumnavigation of the world. Two planes made it back, after having covered 27,553 miles in 175 days, and were greeted on their return September 23, 1924 by a crowd of 200,000 (generously estimated). The Douglas Company (later McDonnell Douglas) kept facilities in the city until the 1960s.
The nationwide prosperity of the 1920s was felt in Santa Monica. The population increased from 15,000 to 32,000 at the end of the decade. Downtown saw a construction boom with many important buildings going up such as Henshey's Department Store (destroyed) and the Criterion Theater. Elegant resorts were opened, including the 1925 Miramar Hotel and the 1926 Club Casa del Mar. Stiles O. Clements designed the art deco Bay City Building, a 13-story skyscraper topped with a huge four-faced clock that was finished in 1930.
Beach volleyball is believed to have been developed in Santa Monica during this time. Duke Kahanamoku brought a form of the game with him from Hawaii when he took a job as athletic director at the Beach Club. Competition began in 1924 with six-person teams, and by 1930 the first game with two-person teams took place.
La Monica Ballroom opened in 1924 on the Santa Monica Pier. It was capable of holding 10,000 dancers in its over 15,000 square foot (1,400 m²) area. A major storm in 1926 almost destroyed the pier and the ballroom, necessitating major repairs. La Monica hosted many national radio and television broadcasts in the early days of networks, before it was finally torn down in 1962. From 1958-1962 the ballroom became one of the largest roller-skating rinks in the western U.S.
Comedian Will Rogers bought a substantial ranch in Santa Monica Canyon in 1922. Among his improvements was a polo field where he played with friends Spencer Tracy, Walt Disney and Robert Montgomery. Upon his untimely death it was discovered that he had generously deeded to the public the ranch now known as Will Rogers State Historic Park, Will Rogers State Park, and Will Rogers State Beach. More recent residents of Santa Monica Canyon have included Christopher Isherwood, Don Bachardy, Jane Fonda, and Tom Hayden (the last two who previously lived in Ocean Park). The southern rim of the canyon is the oldest residential part of Santa Monica, while most of the canyon is in the City of Los Angeles.
In 1928 Will Rogers sold a parcel with two large houses on the beach at the base of the bluffs to William Randolph Hearst, who then gave it to Marion Davies. Architect Julia Morgan oversaw the construction of what ultimately became the $7 million, 5-building, 118-room Ocean House. As with other lavish Hearst/Morgan projects it contained entire rooms removed from antique European buildings. Davies was a vivacious and popular hostess and Ocean House saw many grand parties of Hollywood celebrities. Davies sold the property in 1945 for just $600,000 to a failed attempt at a hotel. Most of the property was torn down in 1958, leaving only the North House with a marble pool and tennis courts. The remaining property was sold to the State of California and leased as the private Sand and Sea Club. Following the expiration of the 30-year lease in 1990, management of the property was turned over to the City of Santa Monica. For a short period of time until the 1994 Northridge Earthquake, the City operated the site as a public beach facility. It was also used as a shooting location, most notably in the TV show Beverly Hills 90210, in which it was the Beverly Hills Beach Club. Redevelopment of the property has been a political issue in the city since the 1990s. In 2006, the City Council approved plans for the first ever public beach club, which included the rehabilitation of the property and construction of new facilities. The project, now under construction, is made possible by a generous gift from the Annenberg Foundation, at the recommendation of Wallis Annenberg, and in partnership with the City of Santa Monica and California State Parks. The new Annenberg Community Beach House is scheduled to open in early 2009.
The area around the Davies mansion became known as the Gold Coast. Stretching along Pacific Coast Highway between Santa Monica Canyon and the Santa Monica Pier it became fashionable in the 1930s for beach homes of discrete celebrities. Following the lead of Rogers and Davies, other actors with homes there have included Norma Talmadge, Greta Garbo and Cary Grant. Douglas Fairbanks spent his last years living there. Peter Lawford had a house there in the 1960s.
Ed Kolpin, Jr. opened a small tobacco, pipe, and cigar store in Santa Monica, the Tinder Box, in 1928. Later it moved to its current location in 1948 where it began serving the many Hollywood celebrities living nearby. Part of the attraction were the famous pipes handmade by Kolpin himself. In 1959 Kolpin began a tobacco-store franchise, at first locally and then by the mid-1960s there were Tinder Box stores in malls across America. The franchise business was sold in the 1970s, but Kolpin still owns and operates the original store as of 2003.
The Great Depression hit Santa Monica deeply. One report gives citywide employment in 1933 of just 1,000. Hotels and office building owners went bankrupt. The pleasure piers were a cheap form of entertainment that got cheaper, attracting a coarser crowd. Muscle Beach, located just south of the Santa Monica Pier, started to attract gymnasts and body builders who put on free shows for the public, and continues till today.
In the 1930s corruption infected Santa Monica (along with neighboring Los Angeles). This aspect of the city is depicted in various Raymond Chandler novels thinly disguised as Bay City. Chandler's Farewell, My Lovely was inspired by the true story of the S.S. Rex. Beginning in 1928, gambling ships started anchoring in Santa Monica Bay just beyond the 3-mile (5.6 km) limit. Water taxis ferried patrons from Santa Monica and Venice. The largest such ship was the S.S. Rex, launched in 1938 and capable of holding up to 3,000 gamblers at a time. The Rex was a red flag to anti-gambling interests. After state Attorney General Earl Warren got a court order to shut the ships down as a nuisance, the crew of the Rex initially fought off police by using water cannons and brandishing sub-machine guns. The engine-less ship surrendered after nine days in what newspapers called The Battle of Santa Monica Bay. Its owner, Tony Cornero, went on to build the Stardust casino in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The greatest benefit to the city came from the Douglas Corporation when it built the DC-3 commercial aircraft. The DC-3, which first flew from Clover Field, was a terrifically successful airliner that transformed the air transportation business and brought needed jobs to the city. In a more modest show of entrepreneurship, Merle Norman founded her cosmetic business in 1931 by making creams and cosmetics on her kitchen stove. Both her former house and her 1933 Streamline-styled business headquarters are well maintained.
The federal Works Project Administration helped build several buildings in the city, most notably City Hall. The 1938 art deco structure was designed by Donald Parkinson and features terrazo mosaics by Stanton MacDonald-Wright. The main Post Office and Barnum Hall (Santa Monica High School auditorium) were among several other WPA projects.
Douglas's business grew astronomically with the onset of World War II, employing as many as 44,000 people in 1943. To defend against air attack set designers from the Warner Brothers Studios prepared elaborate camouflage that disguised the factory and airfield.
In 1945 Santa Monica City College started the Community Radio Workshop (CRW) to teach returning GIs broadcasting and used the call letters KCRW. (Later KCRW became a popular and innovative NPR affiliate.)
The Sears building was built in 1947 at the south end of the retail district and has retained architect Rowland Crawford's original late-Moderne styling.
The RAND Corporation began as a project of the Douglas Company in 1945, and spun off into an independent think tank on May 14, 1948. RAND eventually acquired a 15 acre (61,000 m²) campus centrally located between the Civic Center and the pier entrance.
As a response to the corruption and inefficiency that grew in the 1930s the current charter was enacted in 1946. It created a council-manager government that has proven to be successful.
Papermate opened its Santa Monica factory in 1957, still in operation by Sanford-Papermate. The plant produced 600 million ballpoint pens in 1971.
The 3,000-seat Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, designed in the International Style by Welton Becket, opened in 1958. From 1961-1968 the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences held its annual Oscar awards ceremony there. Performers that have appeared over the decades include: Andre Previn, Dave Brubeck, Pete Seeger, Ella Fitzgerald, Tony Bennett, Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, David Bowie, Elton John, Ray Charles, Arlo Guthrie, the Beach Boys, the Carpenters, Bill Cosby, Jonathan Winters, Bob Hope, Allen Ginsberg, The Rolling Stones, T. Rex, Led Zeppelin, The Ramones, The Clash, The Buzzcocks, Public Enemy and countless others. Since the late 1980s the auditorium has been more popular for trade conventions than performances. The films The T.A.M.I. Show and Urgh! A Music War were shot there.
Pacific Ocean Park, the last of the great amusement piers, opened in 1958. While it temporarily eclipsed competitor Disneyland, attendance later plummeted and by 1967 the park was foreclosed for back taxes. It sat empty and rotting, an unattractive "attractive nuisance" until finally removed in 1974.
Adjacent to Pacific Ocean Park was the rock and roll club, The Cheetah, which featured early performances by such acts as The Doors, Alice Cooper, Pink Floyd, Love, The Mothers of Invention, The Seeds, Buffalo Springfield and others. It closed in 1968.
The Synanon drug rehabilitation cult moved into the large Casa Del Mar building in 1959 and added their strange presence to the area until they left for more remote quarters in 1968. They retained ownership of the empty building until 1978.
The completion of the Santa Monica Freeway in 1966 brought the promise of new prosperity, though at the cost of decimating the Pico neighborhood that had been a leading African American enclave on the Westside.
Third Street in downtown was converted into the Santa Monica Mall in 1965, an innovative but ultimately unsuccessful development that turned the three block core of the retail district into an open-air pedestrian mall. Large parking structures were built, but rarely filled. Within a couple of decades it was in severe decline. (The Santa Monica Mall, just prior to its conversion to the Third Street Promenade, is a location for some scenes in the movie, Pee-wee's Big Adventure).
The Douglas plant closed in 1968, depriving Santa Monica of its largest employer. A decade passed before the site was redeveloped into an office park. The Museum of Flying was opened on the same site another decades later, in 1989.
Bandleader Lawrence Welk built the Champagne Towers apartment building and the adjoining 300-foot tall Lawrence Welk Plaza in 1969. The plaza is now known by its address, 100 Wilshire, and it is still the tallest building in the city.
During the 1970s a remarkable number of notable fitness- and health-related businesses started in the city. The Supergo bicycle shop (now a large chain) opened in 1971, and coincidentally work on the bicycle path along the beach was undertaken by the city. The Santa Monica Track Club, founded in 1972 by Joe Douglas, has helped the careers of many Olympians, such as Carl Lewis. Sensei James Field opened his dojo in 1974, which became one of the primary Shotokan karate schools in the US and is now called the Japan Karate Association (JKA) Santa Monica. Joe Gold, who had sold his chain of Gold's Gyms years before, started the World Gym chain in 1977. Nathan Pritikin opened the Pritikin Longevity Center in the Casa Del Mar building in 1978. Ocean Park resident Jane Fonda opened a small aerobics studio on Main Street.
In the late 1970s progressivism became the dominant political force in Santa Monica. Santa Monicans for Renters' Rights (SMRR) formed in 1978 and was led by Ruth Yannatta Goldway, Derek Shearer, Dennis Zane, and Reverend James Conn with support from Tom Hayden and Jane Fonda. Conn's Ocean Park Community Organization (OPCO) was formed in 1979 as an adjunct to the Church in Ocean Park, partly in reaction to the rapid pace of change along Main Street. It was the first of what became nine community organizations that serve as neighborhood advocates. A strict rent control ordinance passed in 1979 and SMRR achieved a council majority in 1981. It has largely remained the controlling political organization since then.
By 1977 the large 1894 "American Foursquare"-style home of founder John P. Jones was threatened with destruction. It had been converted into rooming houses and was decrepit. It, along with an adjoining 19th century house, was saved by being relocated to Main Street in Ocean Park and renovated. The Jones house became the home of the Santa Monica Heritage Museum and the other house became a restaurant. The salvation of the buildings was representative of the changes taking place in the city.
The late-1970s/early-1980s sitcom Three's Company was set in Santa Monica.
After the economic doldrums of the 1960s and early 1970s the city's economy began to recover in the 1980s. An early sign of that change was in the neighborhood of Ocean Park. Main Street, a quaint mile of sawdust bars and dilapidated stores selling old furniture, was upgraded by the concerted efforts of a new generation of owners. Soon it was attracting increasingly expensive boutiques and restaurants. Between burgeoning Main Street and the still declining Santa Monica Mall a city block was levelled in 1980 to build a new mall, Santa Monica Place designed by Frank Gehry. The 1984 Edgemar retail complex on Main Street (also designed by Frank Gehry) brought development with regretably little attention to parking.
While the Santa Monica Pier had been preserved from intentional destruction in 1973, it was nonetheless poorly maintained. By the 1980s it had become a blight. The area around the pier was filled with poorly built and maintained buildings that housed seedy biker bars and head shops. The pier itself had dilipated bars, an odd plaster statue store, and creepy game arcades. The city put off repairing the breakwater that protected the pier and the so-called "yacht harbor" immediately north. Studies were made for rehabilitation of the pier and repair of the breakwater, but they were never acted upon. In 1983 major winter storms, part of the El Niño weather pattern, struck Santa Monica on January 27 and again on March 1. The storms destroyed more than a third of the pier, along with stores, bars, cars, and a large crane brought in to begin repairs. Rebuilding the pier was a contentious effort, costing $43 million dollars. Ultimately the work was completed and the pier remains the city's best-known landmark. Three interesting buildings owned by the city were abandoned and destroyed, including the Sinbad's Restaurant that featured a large whale's tale in the facade.
In the 1980s the city put together the plan for turning the failed Santa Monica Mall into the Santa Monica Promenade. The project, completed in 1989 has proven to be a huge success and is a major regional shopping and entertainment center. Between 1988 and 1998, taxable sales in the city grew 440%, quadrupling city revenues. Retails rents in the development area also quadrupled. More than $500 million of private money has been invested into the Promenade and the adjacent streets in the Bayside District Corporation business association.
The city opened its Public Electronic Network (PEN) in 1989, providing citizens with a bulletin board system (BBS) to discuss local issues and access city services. PEN was the first municipally-operated BBS in the world. While plagued by the ills common to BBSes, the site empowered residents. Due in part to the placement of publicly-available terminals in libraries, homeless persons and their issues received considerable attention on PEN. The SWASHLOCK (Showers, WASHers, and LOCKers) plan was developed on PEN and implemented in 1993. PEN also served as a center to organize opposition to the 1990 proposal to redevelop 415 PCH.
The 1990s saw continued development in Santa Monica. The Promenade caught on. Colorado Place, Water Garden, and other nearby office developments on the east side of town attracted MGM, Sony, Symantec, and other corporations. The Shutters Hotel was the first of several new hotels built between the pier and Pico Boulevard. One of them, the Loews, is on the site of the long forgotten Arcadia Hotel. The Casa Del Mar returned to its former glory as a luxury hotel in 1999 after a reported $60 million renovation by the owners of the Shutters Hotel. Even the comparatively-dowdy Miramar Hotel found new prominence with the many visits of President Bill Clinton.
In 1994 an old rail station was transformed by the city into Bergamot Station, a collection of art galleries that has become a center of art exhibition and retailing.
The 1994 Northridge earthquake caused the loss of many residences and historic buildings, particularly on the north side of the city. Other notable damage: St. John's hospital came close to collapsing; Honda of Santa Monica's parking structure pancaked crushing numerous cars. In all, 100 buildings were condemned outright, including 3,100 apartment units, while far more suffered repairable damage.
The Evening Outlook, which had been purchased by the Copley Press newspaper chain in 1983, was closed in 1998 after 123 years of reporting. It reportedly had 20,000 paid subscription at the time of the closure.
MTBE, a major gasoline additive (10% by volume), was discovered in the city's water wells in August 1995. The MTBE was found almost by accident since it was not on the list of known contaminants and acceptable level had not been set. The city waters engineers had to research the hazard and they raised the alarm. Within a year all five wells were closed, leading to the loss of 45% of the city's water supply. One well had a concentration of 600 parts per billion, while another rose from 14 parts per billion to 490 parts per billion within a year. The California EPA guidelines now call for no more than 35 parts per billion. The city's well field is in the Charnock Sub-Basin, a small aquifer in Palms, Los Angeles that both Santa Monica and Culver City draw upon. To maintain supply to customers Santa Monica was forced to purchase water from the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD) at a cost of over $1.1 million per year. Cleanup of the site is ongoing at a current cost of $3 million per year, paid for by the responsible parties, principally: Shell Oil Company, Chevron, and Exxon. Following this discovery other water districts began testing that revealed tens of thousands of MTBE pollution cases across the United States.
The State of California enacted a law, effective January 1, 1999, that overrode Santa Monica's rent control ordinance by mandating vacancy decontrol. Landlords were reported to have raised rents so high that units remained vacant, requiring them to lower their rents to more marketable levels. Rent controls remained on inhabited units, leading to stories of landlords harassing existing tenants in order to make them leave so that higher rents could be charged.
On July 16, 2003, George Russell Weller drove his Buick into the busy downtown Farmers Market, which was held on a city street that was closed to vehicular traffic. The 86-year-old driver killed 10 and injured 63. In the wake of numerous civil lawsuits filed against the City of Santa Monica and the company organizing the Farmer's Market, a new policy was adopted requiring portable concrete barricades to reliably block vehicle access for pedestrian street events.
Santa Monica passed a law in 2003 restricting the distribution of food to homeless people in the city. Some organizations have deliberately disobeyed these laws.
The increasingly upscale nature of the city - not just the northern part, which was always affluent, but the southern Ocean Park neighborhood as well which has become a favorite of those in the entertainment industry - has created some tensions between newcomers and longtime residents nostalgic for the more bohemian, countercultural past. Nevertheless, with the recent corporate additions of Yahoo! (2005) and Google (2006), gentrification continues.
During the 2000s, the MTA has developed plans to return rail transit to Santa Monica, which was gone after the dismantling of the Pacific Electric Railway during the 1960s. It has developed two plans, including the LACMTA Expo Line and LACMTA Purple Line both which would extend into Santa Monica. The Purple Line was originally to be extended into Santa Monica, but was stopped due to legislative action. However, Democratic Congressman Henry Waxman, one of those who opposed the Red Line's extension has recently reconsidered extending the Red Line into Santa Monica. The proposal to extend the Red Line has been described colloquially as the Subway to the Sea. It is estimated that if successful, both lines will be in service by the late 2010s.
Attractions and cultural resources
The Santa Monica Looff Hippodrome (carousel) is a National Historic Landmark. It sits on the Santa Monica Pier, which was built in 1909. The La Monica Ballroom on the pier was once the largest ballroom in the US, and the source for many New Year's Eve national network broadcasts. The Santa Monica Civic Auditorium was an important music venue for several decades and hosted the Academy Awards in the 1960s. McCabe's Guitar Shop is still a leading acoustic performance space, as well as retail outlet. Bergamot Station is a city-owned art gallery compound that includes the Santa Monica Museum of Art. The city is also home to the Santa Monica Heritage Museum.
Santa Monica is the home of the Third Street Promenade, a major outdoor pedestrian-oriented shopping district that stretches for three blocks between Wilshire Blvd. and Broadway Blvd. Third Street has been closed for those three blocks and converted to a pedestrians-only stretch to allow people to congregate, shop and enjoy street performers.
Santa Monica hosts the annual Santa Monica Film Festival.
The oldest movie theater in the city is the Majestic. Also known as the Mayfair Theatre, the theater which opened in 1912 has been closed since the 1994 Northridge earthquake. The Aero Theater (now operated by the American Cinematheque) and Criterion Theater were built in the 1930s and still show movies. The Santa Monica Promenade alone supports more than a dozen movie screens.
Palisades Park stretches out along the crumbling bluffs overlooking the Pacific and is a favorite walking area to view the ocean. It features a camera obscura. For 48 years local churches and the Police Association assembled a 12-tableau story of Christmas in Palisades Park. The sheds were open on the street side, protected by chain-link fencing (for years there was no fencing because vandalism was not yet a large problem). Inside were dioramas of the Holy Family made from store mannequins; critics argued that many of them did not resemble real people, were damaged, or were otherwise inappropriate. In 2001 the city decided to temporarily end the practice of allowing private groups to place displays in city parks, but in 2004 the Christmas displays returned.
Natives and tourists alike have enjoyed the Santa Monica Rugby Club since 1972. The club has been very successful since its conception, most recently winning back-to-back national championships in 2005 and 2006. Santa Monica defeated the Boston Irish Wolfhounds 57-19 in the Division 1 final, convincingly claiming its second consecutive American title on June 4, 2006, in San Diego. They offer Men's, Women's and a thriving children's programs. The club recently joined the Rugby Super League.
Every fall the Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce hosts The Taste of Santa Monica on the Santa Monica Pier. Visitors can sample food and drinks from Santa Monica restaurants.
Santa Monica is an international mecca for skateboarding culture.
Santa Monica has two hospitals: Saint John's Health Center and Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center. Its cemetery is Woodlawn Memorial.
Santa Monica has several newspapers, including the: Santa Monica Observer Newspaper, its only newspaper of general circulation.
Elementary and secondary schools
The Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District provides public education at the elementary and secondary levels. Private schools in the city include the Crossroads School, New Roads School, Concord High School, Pacifica Christian High, St. Anne Catholic School, Lighthouse Christian Academy and Saint Monica Catholic High School. Notable primary schools include the Carlthorp School and Santa Monica Montessori School.
Santa Monica College (SMC, locally known as "Pico Tech" or "UC Santa Monica") is a junior college founded in 1929. Many SMC graduates transfer to the University of California system. It occupies 35 acres (14 hectares) and enrolls 30,000 students annually. The Frederick S. Pardee RAND Graduate School, associated with the RAND Corporation, is the U.S.'s largest producer of public policy Ph.D.s. The Art Institute of California - Los Angeles is also located in Santa Monica near the Santa Monica Airport, though many are misled to believe the institute is in the City of Los Angeles because of its name.
Universities and colleges within a 15-mile radius from Santa Monica include Los Angeles City College, Los Angeles Southwest College, Los Angeles Valley College, Loyola Marymount University, Mount St. Mary's College, Pepperdine University, California State University, Northridge, California State University, Los Angeles, UCLA, USC, West Los Angeles College and West Valley Occupational Center.
The Santa Monica Freeway (Interstate 10) begins in Santa Monica near the Pacific Ocean and heads east. The Santa Monica Freeway between Santa Monica and downtown Los Angeles has the distinction of being one of the busiest highways in all of North America. After traversing Los Angeles County, I-10 crosses seven more states, terminating at Jacksonville, Florida. In Santa Monica, there is a road sign designating this route as the Christopher Columbus Transcontinental Highway. State Route 2 (Santa Monica Boulevard) begins in Santa Monica, barely grazing State Route 1 at Lincoln Boulevard, and continues northeast across Los Angeles County, through the Angeles National Forest, crossing the San Gabriel Mountains as the Angeles Crest Highway, ending in Wrightwood. Santa Monica is also the western (Pacific) terminus of historic U.S. Route 66. Close to the eastern boundary of Santa Monica, Sepulveda Boulevard reaches from Long Beach at the south, to the northern end of the San Fernando Valley. East of Santa Monica is Interstate 405, the San Diego Freeway, a major north-south route in Los Angeles and Orange counties.
The City of Santa Monica runs its own bus service, the Big Blue Bus, which also serves much of West Los Angeles and UCLA. A Big Blue Bus was featured prominently in the motion picture Speed.
The city is also served by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority's bus lines. Metro also complements Big Blue service, as when Big Blue routes are not operational overnight, Metro buses make many Big Blue Bus stops, in addition to MTA stops. It currently has no rail service but Metro is working on bringing light rail to Santa Monica in the form of the Exposition Line. Since the mid-1980s, various proposals have been made to extend the Red Line subway to Santa Monica under Wilshire Boulevard. However, to this day, no plans to complete the "subway to the sea" are imminent, owing to the difficulty of funding the estimated $5 billion project. In the past, Santa Monica had rail service operated by the Pacific Electric Railway, until it was dismantled in the 1960s.
The city owns and operates a general aviation airport, Santa Monica Airport, which has been the site of several important aviation achievements. Commercial flights are available for residents at Los Angeles International Airport, a few miles south of Santa Monica.
Like other cities in Los Angeles County, Santa Monica is dependent upon the Port of Long Beach and the Port of Los Angeles for international ship cargo. In the 1890s, Santa Monica was once in competition with Wilmington, Calif., and San Pedro for recognition as the "Port of Los Angeles".
The city rests on a mostly flat slope that angles down towards Ocean Avenue and towards the south. High bluffs separate the north side of the city from the beaches. According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has an area of 41.2 km² (15.9 mi²); 21.4 km² (8.3 mi²) of land. Its borders extend three nautical miles (5.6 km) out to sea, and so 19.8 km² (7.7 mi²) of it is water for a total area that is 48.08% water.
Santa Monica enjoys an average of 325 days of sunshine a year. Because of its location, nestled on the vast and open Santa Monica Bay, morning fog and haze are a common phenomenon in May, June and early July (caused by ocean temperature variations and currents). Locals have a particular terminology for this phenomenon: the "May Gray" and the "June Gloom". Overcast skies are common for June mornings, but usually the strong sun burns the fog off by noon. Nonetheless, it will sometimes stay cloudy and cool all day during June, even as other parts of the Los Angeles area will enjoy sunny skies and warmer temperatures. At times, the sun shines east of 20th St, while the beach area is overcast.
As a general rule, the beach temperature is from 5 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit (3 to 5.5 degrees Celsius) cooler than it is inland. A typical spring day (Mid-April) is sunny, pleasant and about 68 °F (20 °C). In the summer, which stretches from May to late October, temperatures can reach the mid-80's Fahrenheit (about 30 °C) at the beach. The average temperature for August is 71 °F (21 °C). September is the warmest month of the year in Santa Monica, with an average of 73.2 °F (22 °C). It is also in September that high temperature records tend to be broken. In early September 2004, temperatures of 92 °F to 98 °F (33 °C to 37 °C) were recorded.
In early November, it is about 68 °F (20 °C). In late January, temperatures are around 63 °F (17 °C). It is winter, however, when the hot, dry winds of the Santa Anas are most common. In mid-December 2004, temperatures soared to 84 °F (28 °C) in Santa Monica, for a few straight days, with perfectly sunny skies.
The rainy season is from late October through late March. Winter storms usually approach from the north-west and pass quickly through the Southland. There is very little rain during the rest of the year.
Santa Monica usually enjoys a cool breeze blowing in from the ocean, keeping the air fresh and clean. Therefore, smog is less a problem for Santa Monica than elsewhere around Los Angeles. However, in the autumn months of September through November, the Santa Ana winds will sometimes blow from the east, bringing smoggy inland air to the beaches.
The city is well known as one of the leading sustainable cities in all of the US. Three of every four of the city's public works vehicles run on alternative fuel, making it among the largest such fleets in the country. All public buildings use renewable energy. In the last 15 years, the city has cut greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 10 per cent, a feat in car-crazy Southern California. City officials and residents have made the ongoing cleanup of the Santa Monica Bay a priority - an urban runoff facility catches 3.5 million gallons of water each week that would otherwise flow into the bay. Other environmental features include miles of beaches, extensive curbside recycling, farmer's markets, community gardens, and the city's bus system.
Santa Monica's population has grown from 417 in 1880 to 84,084 in 2000. For population statistics by decade, see History of Santa Monica, California.
As of the census of 2000, there are 84,084 people, 44,497 households, and 16,775 families in the city. The population density is 3,930.4/km² (10,178.7/mi²). There are 47,863 housing units at an average density of 2,237.3/km² (5,794.0/mi²). The racial makeup of the city is 78.29% White, 7.25% Asian, 3.78% African American, 0.47% Native American, 0.10% Pacific Islander, 5.97% from other races, and 4.13% from two or more races. 13.44% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race. There are 44,497 households, out of which 15.8% have children under the age of 18, 27.5% are married couples living together, 7.5% have a female householder with no husband present, and 62.3% are non-families. 51.2% of all households are made up of individuals and 10.6% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 1.83 and the average family size is 2.80.
The city of Santa Monica is consistently among the most educated cities in the United States, as measured by the percentage of residents with graduate degrees.
The population is diverse in age, with 14.6% under 18, 6.1% from 18 to 24, 40.1% from 25 to 44, 24.8% from 45 to 64, and 14.4% 65 years or older. The median age is 39 years. For every 100 females, there are 93.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 91.3 males.
According to a 2006 estimate, the median income for a household in the city is $61,423, and the median income for a family is $100,996. Males have a median income of $55,689 versus $42,948 for females. The per capita income for the city is $42,874. 10.4% of the population and 5.4% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 9.9% of those under the age of 18 and 10.2% of those 65 and older are living below the poverty line.
In the state legislature Santa Monica is located in the 23rd Senate District, represented by Democrat Sheila Kuehl, and in the 41st Assembly District, represented by Democrat Julia Brownley. Federally, Santa Monica is located in California's 30th congressional district, which has a Cook PVI of D +20 and is represented by Democrat Henry Waxman.
Santa Monica is home to many notable businesses.
Businesses with their headquarters in Santa Monica include
- video game companies and studios: Activision, Hydrogen Whiskey Studios, Naughty Dog SCE Santa Monica, Insomniac Games, Experian subsidiary LowerMyBills.com,
investment firm Dimensional Fund Advisors,
- search engine company Business.com,
- film / television production company and record label The Playtone Company, headed by actor Tom Hanks and producer Gary Goetzman.
Major companies with branch offices in Santa Monica include Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Universal, MTV and Edmunds.com. The Design Center California for Volkswagen is located at what once was the Museum Of Flying at the Santa Monica Airport. The DCC moved to its present location from Simi Valley in 2006. Volkswagen's only styling studio in North America has been responsible for many notable automotive designs, including The New Beetle & The Audi Road Jet concept seen at the Detroit Car Show. The offices for the Comedy Central show South Park are located in Santa Monica.
Former Santa Monica businesses include Douglas Aircraft (now merged with Boeing) and MySpace (now headquartered in Beverly Hills). Supermarine, now Atlantic Aviation at the Santa Monica airport
Santa Monica passed a measure in 2007 to move marijuana smoking to the bottom of the police priority list.
While gentrification has transformed the city, some areas of Santa Monica have serious crime problems. The city estimates that there are less than 500 gang members in Santa Monica, although community organizers, such as Oscar De La Torre dispute this claim. Gang activity has been prevalent for decades in the Pico neighborhood, particularly the portion of the area running roughly from 14th Street to just east of Cloverfield, and between Pico Boulevard and Colorado Ave. This war has sporadically spilled into the halls of Santa Monica High School and impacts daily life for students at Olympic High School (at the corner of Ocean Park Blvd and Lincoln Blvd). These various feuds have claimed dozens of lives over more than two decades. While there are gangs in the Pico neighborhood: Graveyard gangsta crip trays, and the Santa Monica 17th St, and Santa Monica 13 Latino gangs, the grave yard gangster crips and santa monica 17 have been rivals for years.
One of the most violent feuds was between Latino Santa Monica gangs and the rival Culver City 13 gang. In 1998, five shooting deaths occurred in a two week period between these two gangs.
In October of 1998, alleged Culver City 13 gang member Omar Sevilla, 21, of Culver City was killed. A couple of hours after the shooting of Sevilla, German tourist Horst Fietze was killed by a Culver City gang member. Several days later Juan Martin Campos, age 23, a Santa Monica City employer and former gang member was shot and killed. Police believe this was a retaliatory killing in response to the death of Omar Sevilla. Less than twenty-four hours later, Javier Cruz was wounded outside his home on 17th and Michigan, a violence riddled pocket of the Pico area.
One of the most eye opening events was the double homicide in the Westside Clothing store on Lincoln Boulevard. During the incident, Culver City gang members David "Puppet" Robles and Jesse "Psycho" Garcia entered the store masked and began opening fire, killing Anthony and Michael Juarez. They then ran outside to a getaway vehicle driven by a third Culver City gang member, who is now also in custody. The clothing store was believed to be a local hang out for Santa Monica gang members. The dead included two men from Northern California who had merely been visiting the store's owner, their cousin, to see if they could open a similar store in their area. Police say the incident was in retaliation for a shooting committed by the Santa Monica 13 gang days before the Juarez brothers were gunned down.
Aside from the rivalry with the Culver City gang, Black and Latino Pico gang members also feud with the Venice and West Los Angeles gangs. The main rivals in these regions include Venice 13, and Venice Shoreline Crips gangs located in the Oakwood area of Venice, CA. The Sotel 13 gang located in West Los Angeles has long been the main rival of Santa Monica's Latino gangs.
- Hamm, Germany (since 1969)
- Mazatlán, Mexico (since 1970)
- Fujinomiya, Japan (since 1975)
- Jay Adams, famous skateboarder
- Tony Alva, famous skateboarder
- Tom Anderson, founder of MySpace
- Kenneth Anger, film-maker, author
- Dave Markey, film-maker, musician
- Sean Astin, film-actor, director, and producer
- Steven Blum, voice actor
- Ryan Braun, Major League Baseball player, Milwaukee Brewers
- Juan José Carrillo First mayor of Santa Monica, L.A. Police Chief, politician and judge
- Earl Cole, winner, Sole Survivor of Survivor: Fiji
- Rivers Cuomo, Weezer front man
- Larry David, Comedian.
- Scott Davis, former tennis player
- Alexis Denisof, actor
- Bob Dylan, Musician
- Elonka Dunin, American game developer
- Dwight Evans, former Major League Baseball player
- Shelley Fabares, actress
- Ed Fallon, Iowa politician
- Miguel Ferrer, actor
- Bobbi Fiedler, congresswoman
- Bonnie Franklin, actress
- Lynette Fromme, criminal
- John Frusciante, musician, guitarist Red Hot Chili Peppers
- Frank Gehry, architect
- Sara Gilbert, actress
- Helen Golay, convicted murderess
- Adam Goldberg, actor
- Jennifer Grant, actress, writer
- Helen K. Garber, photographer
- Alyson Hannigan, actress
- Dan Harrington, poker player
- Horace Heidt, '40s bandleader
- Christy Hemme,Professional wrestler for Total Nonstop Action Wrestling
- Anjelica Huston, actress
- Tommy Kendall, NASCAR driver
- Cory Kennedy, It -girl, fashion model
- Apollonia Kotero, actress, model, dancer, and singer
- John La Gatta, fine artist and Society of Illustrators Hall of Fame recipient in 1984
- Lorenzo Lamas, actor
- Rebecca Perry, Composer/Arranger
- Tim Leary, former MLB player
- Jun Hee Lee, Actor
- June Lockhart, actress
- Mark Loretta, Houston Astros second baseman
- Lorna Luft, entertainer
- Tobey Maguire, actor
- Stephen Malkmus, musician
- Teena Marie, singer, songwriter, producer
- Kevin Millar, MLB player
- Chris Masters, professional wrestler
- John Nash, Nobel prize, arrested when lived here, subject of A Beautiful Mind
- Gunnar Nelson, musician
- Grant Nordman, Canadian politician
- Stacy Peralta, famous skateboarder, film maker
- Robert Redford, motion picture actor, director, producer, businessman, model, and philanthropist
- Randy Rhoads, guitarist
- Christina Ricci, actress
- Ashley Roberts, singer
- Nicole Scherzinger, singer
- Mike Scott, former MLB player
- Bobby Sherman, singer and actor
- Neil Strauss, writer, journalist
- Gloria Stuart, actress, artist
- Jessica Sutta, singer
- Amber Tamblyn, actress
- Shirley Temple, diplomat and former film child actress
- Melody Thornton, singer
- Robert Trujillo, musician
- Suzanne Vega, songwriter and singer
- Wolfgang Van Halen, rock bassist, son of Eddie Van Halen and nephew of Alex Van Halen
- Owen Wilson, actor (now in Malibu)
- Luke Wilson, actor
- Syrus Yarbrough, model and reality TV star of The Real World
- Trifun Zivanovic, figure skater
- Cole and Dylan Sprouse, actors
- Rick Monday, MLB player, Dodger radio announcer
Filming location and setting
The U.S. sitcom Three's Company was set in Santa Monica.
The 1963 U.S. mega-comedy It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World included several scenes shot in Santa Monica, including those along California Incline, which led to the Big W.
The television series, Buffy: The Vampire Slayer, had one of its major sets at the intersection of Stewart and Olympic Blvd, in Santa Monica.
Several scenes of Entourage have been filmed at Urth Cafe on Main Street.
The movie Seventeen was shot at Santa Monica High School.
The television series Pacific Blue was set in Santa Monica.
The 1989 movie Heathers used Santa Monica's John Adams Middle School for many exterior shots.
The television series, Private Practice starring Kate Walsh is situated at Santa Monica.
Forrest Gump ended his famous run across America at the Santa Monica Pier.
The movie Cellular concludes with a scene set at the Santa Monica Pier.
Raymond Chandler's most famous character, private detective Philip Marlowe, frequently has a portion of his adventures in a place called "Bay City", which is modeled on depression-era Santa Monica. In Marlowe's world, Bay City is "a wide-open town", where gambling and other crimes thrive due to a massively corrupt and ineffective police force.
The setting on a certain portion of Mitch Albom's book, The Five People You Meet in Heaven, has similarities to the Pacific Pier located along the Santa Monica beach. In the book, it is named Ruby Pier. Mitch Albom even acknowledged the Pacific Pier for its cooperation.
The name of the band Linkin Park is a homage to Santa Monica's former Lincoln Park which was near a recording studio they were using. (The park has since been renamed "Reed Park" in honor of longtime city councilmember Christine Reed.)
The modern rock band Theory of a Deadman's song titled "Santa Monica", is a first-person account about a girl leaving her significant other to start a new life in Santa Monica.
The band Everclear released a song titled "Santa Monica" in 1995, which became their first mainstream hit.
The band Savage Garden also released a song titled "Santa Monica" off their #3 US album Savage Garden (1997).
The ska/reggae band, Bedouin Soundclash has a song entitled "Santa Monica".
One of the few songs that musical satirist Tom Lehrer has recorded since the 1970s is a tribute to the holidays of the Jewish calendar entitled "I'm Spending Hanukkah in Santa Monica".
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