Welcome to Santa Monica
Santa Monica is a beachfront city in western Los Angeles County, California, US. Situated on Santa Monica Bay, it is surrounded on three sides by the city of Los Angeles Pacific Palisades on the northwest, Brentwood on the north, West Los Angeles on the northeast, Mar Vista on the east, and Venice on the southeast. Santa Monica is home to executives and Hollywood celebrities amongst others and it is a mixture of affluent, single-family neighborhoods, renters, surfers, young professionals, and students. The Census Bureau 2010 population for Santa Monica is 89,736.
Santa Monica is named after Saint Monica of Hippo, from a former, turn-of-the-19th-century name for Kuruvungna Springs, now on the SE corner of the campus of University High School at Barrington and Ohio, a short distance from the eastern border of Santa Monica. The Portola Expedition visited Kuruvungna on August 3-4, 1769. Father Crespi renamed the Springs “San Gregorio”, but the expedition soldiers called them “El Berrendo” after a deer they wounded there. Later, the pair of springs began to be called “The Tears of Santa Monica” by locals because they brought to mind the weeping eyes of the saint as she cried for her erring son. The first official record of Santa Monica as a place name was on a 1827 grazing permit and then again the following year on the record of the grant for Rancho Boca de Santa Monica.
Partly because of its agreeable climate, 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.
Attractions & 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 California Heritage Museum and the Angels Attic dollhouse and toy museum.
Santa Monica has three shopping districts, Montana Avenue on the north side of the city, the Downtown District in the city’s core, and Main Street on the south end of the city. Each of these districts has its own unique feel and personality. Montana Avenue is a stretch of luxury boutique stores, restaurants, and small offices that generally features more upscale shopping. The Main Street district offers an eclectic mix of clothing, restaurants, and other specialty retail.
The Downtown District is the home of the Third Street Promenade, a major outdoor pedestrian-only shopping district that stretches for three blocks between Wilshire Blvd. and Broadway (not the same Broadway in downtown and south Los Angeles). Third Street is closed to vehicles for those three blocks to allow people to stroll, congregate, shop, and enjoy street performers. Santa Monica Place, the indoor mall designed by Frank Gehry, is located at the south end of the Promenade. After a period of redevelopment, the mall reopened in the fall of 2010 as a modern shopping-entertainment complex with more outdoor space.
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.
The Santa Monica Steps, a long, steep staircase that leads from north of San Vicente down into Santa Monica Canyon, is a popular spot for all-natural outdoor workouts. Some area residents have complained that the stairs have become too popular, and attract too many exercisers to the wealthy neighborhood of multimillion-dollar properties.
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. Other annual events include the Business and Consumer Expo, Sustainable Quality Awards, Santa Monica Cares Health and Wellness Festival, and the State of the City.
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 and magazines, including the Santa Monica Star, Santa Monica Daily Press, the Santa Monica Mirror, the Santa Monica Observer, Santa Monica Magazine, and the Santa Monica Sun.