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Santa Monica

Santa Monica is a pedestrian-friendly beach city which is split into 8 districts.  Each district offers a diverse mix of shopping, dining, entertainment and outdoor recreation.   Santa Monica also offers a unique history as one of the first areas on the California coastline to be visited by outside explorers.

Santa Monica Demographics

  • Population 89,736
  • Population Breakdown:
    • White Persons 77.6%
    • African American Persons 3.9%
    • Native American Persons 0.4%
    • Asian Persons 9.0%
    • Pacific Islander or Native Hawaiian Persons 0.1%
    • Hispanic or Latino Persons 13.1%

Santa Monica History

Santa Monica’s contact with outsiders began well before many other parts of southern California.  In 1542 Juan Rodriquez Cabrillo, a Portuguese explorer, entered Santa Monica Bay.  This early discovery would not be followed by further exploration until Gaspar de Portola’s arrival in 1769.  A member of Portola’s expedition, Father Juan Crespi, was inspired by a free-flowing natural spring.  Crespi named the area after Saint Monica, who wept for her wayward son.  After Mexican independence from Spain, Mexico divided the area into three expansive land grants in 1828.  These three grants were called Rancho San Vicente y Santa Monica, Rancho Boca de Santa Monica and Rancho La Ballona.

In addition to its rich history of early exploration, Santa Monica was also one of the first areas to draw tourists from the East Coast.  During the 1850’s Santa Monica became a winter playground for well-to-do Easterners.  This tourism money brings Santa Monica commercial growth over the next twenty years which leads to its purchase by Nevada Senator John Percival Jones in 1874.  To this day, Jones is regarded as the founder of Santa Monica.  A year later Senator Jones would sell the first residential lots to the public.  In nine months the population of Santa Monica would grow to 1,000 people.   In 1887 the city of Santa Monica was incorporated.

After the turn of the century, Santa Monica began growing by leaps and bounds.  That growth included the completion of Santa Monica’s mile-long wharf in 1893 which made Santa Monica the major port of call for Los Angeles until 1903.  But it wasn’t all serious business growth.  In 1909 Santa Monica’s famed Pier opens drawing an international crowd of enthusiasts.

By 1920 Santa Monica’s fame as a popular vacation spot causes the population to soar to 37,000 people.  Soon after, Santa Monica State Beach plays host to another phenomenon that helped bring notoriety to the area, a new international fitness craze on Muscle Beach.   Internationally well known for a variety of reasons, Santa Monica remains one of California’s most famous beach-front cities.

Santa Monica continues to preserve the past recently sponsoring a $45 million multi-phased pier restoration project which began with the refurbishment of the historic carousel.  In 1999 a beachfront redesign included the rebirth of legendary Muscle Beach, renovation of Palisades Park and the debut of two new beachfront hotels, the last properties to be built along Santa Monica’s shoreline.   Santa Monica Pier celebrated its Centennial in 2009 as one of America’s oldest and most famous beach front recreational areas.


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