A History of Malibu’s Neighboring City, Santa Monica


RE/MAX ELITE loves Malibu and it’s adjacent cities, such as the infamous Santa Monica. Malibu’s dear neighbor has an interesting history filled with ups and downs in the real estate market in addition to other bits of history many would not know about. To start with, Robert S. Baker and John P. Jones were the founders of the “City of the Sea”, also known as Santa Monica, in 1875. They founded a town that was fronted on the ocean and named every avenue and street after a western state. This inevitably led to the first Real Estate purchase in Santa Monica on July 15th, 1875.

The years after 1880 allowed for business and Real Estate development to boom in the “City of the Sea”. In 1885, the first hotel of the town was built and lasted until 1887 when it was burned down. In 1893, the Long Wharf was built toward the north end of Santa Monica so that it could hold large ships, which was soon known as “Port Los Angeles”. This wharf was also deemed the longest pier in the world and even accommodated a train. Although the decision by Congress in 1897 gave San Pedro Bay the title of “Port of Los Angeles”, Long Wharf still acted as a major port of call for Los Angeles.

In 1895, “Ocean Park” was created. “Ocean Park” acted as the first amusement park and residential Real Estate project. It had multiple branches on the estate, one of which being the “Ocean Park Casino” which incorporated a racetrack and golf course. The amusement park was a great site for neighboring cities such as Malibu. The owner, Abbot Kinney, later focused on the south end of the “Ocean Park” property, also known as Venice of America, after he had a falling out with his partners.

In the 20th century, amusement piers became extremely popular. Santa Monica had many competing amusement pier owners, trying to best the other. Some entertaining themes that were common at the amusement piers consisted with roller coasters, live entertainment, and food stands. Originally,  there were five piers in the Santa Monica area with several more down the coast. Santa Monica Pier, built in 1909, is now the last amusement pier still standing today.

The 1920’s were years where Real Estate and construction in downtown Santa Monica boomed. Many known buildings built include the Criterion Theater, Miramar Hotel, Club Casa del Mar, and Henshey’s Department Store (which no longer exists). Santa Monica also built its very own Santa Monica Airport, which was used for over 46 years. Some of the land around the coast was also used for shooting scenes in the popular television show, “Beverly Hills, 90210”.

The Great Depression led to the creation of some of the well-known sites in the neighboring cities of Malibu. Due to the wide spread unemployment and lack of finances, the people of Santa Monica turned to the amusement piers as a cheap form of entertainment. Muscle Beach was also created and attracted gymnasts and body builders who put on shows for amusement. World War II stuck up business for Santa Monica and was the economical polar opposite of the Great Depression. Papermate, along with Pacific Ocean Park opened up in the 1960’s, creating a gradual economic uprising. 

The infamous Third Street in downtown was turned into the “Santa Monica Mall” in 1965. It was an open-air three-block retail district with large parking structures. Unfortunately this, like many of Santa Monica’s businesses, was unsuccessful in the long run. Santa Monica was not developing very well despite the constant business investments and times were tough for the city. It wasn’t until the 1980’s that business started to improve and there was a visual change in the town.

The 1980’s were a time for renovation and Santa Monica was ready for a turn around by updating their existing Real Estate properties. The renovation started with repairing the Santa Monica Pier. The Pier had suffered extensive damage over the years through natural disasters and rebuilding it was a contentious effort. The total costs for rebuilding the Pier was $43 million but it was because of these repairs that the Pier is Santa Monica’s best-known landmark. The city also drafted a plan to turn the once failed “Santa Monica Mall” into a success by creating the “Santa Monica Promenade”. The Promenade was a success, so much so that taxable sales grew to over 440 percent, quadrupling the city’s revenues. This also gave headway into the increase in rent costs and property costs.

Santa Monica’s history has been a rollercoaster filled with successful innovation and near citywide failure.Despite these setbacks, the city  was persevered and now Santa Monica well-known with numerous tourist attractions and many residents. Real Estate is actively sought out within it’s boarders just like it’s neighboring cities, Malibu and Los Angeles. Santa Monica has proven that it can survive through anything and will be around for years to come.

All research taken from (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Santa_Monica,_California)






 Check out this Timeline of Santa Monica’s History!

1875: Senator Jones donates 26-acre Palisades Park to the city; the first residential lot sells

for $300. In nine short months the seaside sanctuary grows to a population of 1,000.

1886: The opulent Arcadia Hotel, one of the many grand resort hotels to grace Southern California’s seashore, is built.

1887: The city of Santa Monica is incorporated — all 8.3 square miles.

1888: Initially sited for a grand hotel, Senator Jones’ famous “Miramar” mansion is built on the city block of Ocean Avenue; a landmark Miramar Moreton Bay Fig Tree marks the estate’s location today.

1893: Santa Monica’s mile-long wharf is built; the city bustles as the major port of call for Los Angeles until 1903.

1909: Santa Monica’s famed Pier opens – the oldest pleasure Pier on the West Coast – drawing an international crowd of enthusiasts.

1910: Ocean Park Bath House adorns the shore; across the street the ornate Million Dollar Pier is built (dismantled in 1970).

1920: Santa Monica is home to Hollywood’s “A” list and wealthy Easterners; population soars to 37,000.

1920: Aviation pioneer Donald W. Douglas, Sr., founds Douglas Aircraft Co., which later provided much needed jobs during World War II.

1922: Humorist Will Rogers acquires 345 acres in Rustic Canyon, builds a horse ranch and polo field for fellow players Spencer Tracy, Robert Montgomery and Walt Disney.

1924: Senator Jones’ mansion becomes the grand Miramar Hotel.

1924: Dancers from around the world flock to the newly-built 10,000 person La Monica Ballroom, built on the foot of the Pier.

1925: Santa Monica’s “Gold Coast” becomes hot realty; Greta Garbo checks into the Miramar Hotel as first U.S. residence.

1926: William Randolph Hearst builds Marion Davies a palatial Georgian- style mansion (55 rooms, 37 fireplaces) on Will Rogers State Beach.

1934: Muscle Beach ignites an international fitness craze on Santa Monica State Beach.

1955: Santa Monica inherits Will Rogers’ 345-acre State Historic Park.

1980s: Santa Monica becomes hotbed for world-class dining; two first-class beachfront hotels debut drawing international acclaim; Third Street Promenade opens in 1989.

1984: Aggressive $45 million multi-phased Pier Restoration project begins with refurbishment of the historic carousel.

1989: Third Street Promenade opens, welcoming up to 7,000 visitors daily.

1999: Massive beachfront redesign marks the millennium, including the rebirth of legendary Muscle Beach, renovation of Palisades Park and debut of two new beachfront hotels, the last properties to be built along Santa Monica’s shoreline.

2001: Big Blue Bus Downtown Transit redevelopment.

2002: New Visitor Center opens in Santa Monica Place Mall serving visitors, residents alike.

2005: Santa Monica Convention & Visitors Bureau moves to Main Street Location.

2007: Santa Monica Convention & Visitors Bureau celebrates 25-year anniversary

2009: Santa Monica Pier celebrates it’s Centennial

2010: Opening of the new Santa Monica Place

Data taken from santamonica.com


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