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Santa Monica was founded in 1875 and incorporated in 1886. By 1900, more than 5,000 people were settled here. Today, Santa Monica is one of the best-loved beach communities in the country. The City boasts a daytime population of more than 225,000 individuals. That number dwindles down to close to 83,000 people at night. A combination of seaside resort and thriving business community, Santa Monica graces three miles of Pacific Ocean beachfront, and boasts 300 days of sunshine annually.
You should see the intimate side Santa Monica. We have more than 60 landmarked properties scattered around town, which will give you a fine snapshot of our fair city. We’ve set up several tours so you can easily enjoy visiting the landmarked properties around town.
Tour 1 - Adelaide Drive - The North Rim
Tour 2 - Style and Big Trees – The Northeastern Corner
Tour 3 - The Canada Tour
Tour 4 - Apartment Life
Tour 5 - A Taste of Urban Santa Monica
Tour 6 - Early Santa Monica
Tour 7 - People + Property That Shaped Santa Monica
Tour 8 - Ocean Park
Tour 9 - The South End of Santa Monica
|Tour 1 - Adelaide Drive - The North Rim|
|¾ mile distance
Adelaide Drive is located at the Santa Monica Canyon rim and forms the Northern Boundary of the City and features majestic canyon views. Since the turn of the 20th Century, this street has attracted numerous prominent southern Californians.
This street is named after Robert Gillis’ daughter, Adelaide. Robert Gillis was the owner of the Santa Monica Land and Water Co. and bought thousands of acres in the Palisades in the 1880s. In 1923, Gillis sold 22,000 acres to Alphonso Bell, who developed Bel Air, and went on to develop the Pacific Palisades.
|Tour 2 - Style and Big Trees – The Northeastern Corner|
| 4.2 miles
This is the longest tour – a 4.2 mile loop. You’ll enjoy a unique variety of architectural styles from quintessential bungalows to International style, as well as tallest Eucalyptus deanei tree in the country.
Delight in La Mesa drive, it is one of the most elite streets in town. La Mesa Drive is a six-block long, curving street of large and gracious homes mostly dating from the 1920s and 1930s. The drive is lined with mature Moreton Bay fig trees, with their overhanging canopy of leaves and their large, intricate root systems, line both sides of the street. Vintage post top street lamps, with paired lanterns at the ends of the drive and single ones on the interior, illuminate La Mesa during the evening hours. Thirty-seven home contribute to the historic quality of this potential historic district; local architect John Byers is responsible for eight houses. Other architects featured on this street are Paul Williams, Marston Van Pelt and Maybury, Palmer Sabin, Oscar Niemeyer, Lloyd Wright, and J.R. Davidson. La Mesa Drive is a potential landmark historic district.
|Tour 3 - The Canada Tour|
| 1 3/4 miles
Insider’s joke – locals sometimes refer to the part of Santa Monica that’s north of Montana Ave. as Canada. People who live here live well. As you stroll along Georgina and Alta Avenues you will be impressed with the quality, variety and szie of the residences in the neighborhood.
|Tour 4 - Apartment Life|
| Under 1 mile
This tour will give you a very good idea about the development of high rises in the city of Santa Monica….not to mention another famous tree and a cottage. This entire loop is less than a mile.
|Tour 5 - A Taste of Urban Santa Monica|
| 1.1 miles
This jaunt will give you a flavor of how the downtown area developed in the first half of the 20th century.
|Tour 6 - Early Santa Monica|
| 1.2 miles
Downtown has always been downtown. Much of Santa Monica’s earliest development was along Ocean Avenue Santa Monica Blvd. Elements of this 1.2 mile tour will take you back to the days when the West was young, and into the heart of the business district.
|Tour 7 - People + Property That Shaped Santa Monica|
| Approximately 3 miles
We are now at the core of the City. This tour will bring you by municipal structures like the Pier, City Hall and Barnum Theater, not to mention a rare Craftsman apartment building.
|Tour 8 - Ocean Park|
| 2.2 miles
You can spend the better part of the day wandering around Ocean Park and understanding the earliest history of Santa Monica on this 2.2-mile tour.
On June 23, 1891, property developers Abbot Kinney and Francis Ryan bought the controlling interest in the Ocean Park Casino. Later that year, they paid $175,000 for the surrounding tract of land that faced the ocean south of what is now Pico Boulevard. There, they built the Ocean Park Beach Resort. Direct rail service from Los Angeles began when the first train arrived at its Hill Street depot on June 18, 1892. Advertisements appeared for Kinney and Ryan’s “Santa Monica Tract.” The lots, 25 x 100 feet, were priced at $100 and featured piped water. Tents were erected on unsold lots and were available to campers for summer rental. Three years later, Ocean Park was born. Many historic properties still remain.
A highlight of Ocean Park is the Third Street Neighborhood Historic District — bounded by Ocean Park Boulevard, Second, Hill and Third streets — possesses aesthetic significance to Santa Monica in that the area displays a high percentage of original, turn-of-the century structures — from Victorian to Gothic to American Colonial Revival to
California Craftsman to Spanish Colonial Revival. The neighborhood provides a visual representation of the neighborhood’s development through the 1930s.
The easiest place to park for this tour will be on the Thirds St. side of Hollister Court.
|Tour 9 - The South End of Santa Monica|
| 6.5-mile loop
This last set of properties is scattered around the south east side of town.
There are some fascinating bits of history here – including a Shotgun House and the Rotating Beacon Tower - which represents one of the earliest navigational tools used in night flying.