Huntington Beach is a seaside city in Orange County in southern California, United States. According to the 2000 census, the city population was 189,594. It is bordered by the Pacific Ocean on the southwest, by Seal Beach on the northwest, by Costa Mesa on the east, by Newport Beach on the southeast, by Westminster on the north, and by Fountain Valley on the northeast.
It is known for its long 8.5-mile (13.7 km) beach, mild climate, and excellent surfing. The waves are a unique natural effect caused by edge-diffraction of ocean swells by the island of Catalina, and waves from distant hurricanes.
The area was originally occupied by the Tongva people. European settlement can be traced to a Spanish soldier, Manuel Nieto, who in 1784 received a Spanish land grant of 300,000 acres (1,200 km2), Rancho Los Nietos, as a reward for his military service and to encourage settlement in Alta California. Nieto's western area was reduced in 1790 because of a dispute with the Mission San Gabriel, but he retained thousands of acres stretching from the hills north of Whittier, Fullerton and Brea, south to the Pacific Ocean, and from today's Los Angeles River on the west, to the Santa Ana River on the east.
The main thoroughfare of Huntington Beach, Beach Boulevard, was originally a cattle route for the main industry of the Rancho. Since its time as a parcel of the enormous Spanish land grant, Huntington Beach has undergone many incarnations. One time it was known Shell Beach, the town of Smeltzer, and then Gospel Swamp for the revival meetings that were held in the marshland where the community college Golden West College can currently be found. Later it became known as Fairview and then Pacific City as it developed into a tourist destination. In order to secure access to the Red Car lines that used to criss-cross Los Angeles and ended in Long Beach, Pacific City ceded enormous power to railroad magnate Henry Huntington, and thus became a city whose name has been written into corporate sponsorship, and like much of the history of Southern California, boosterism.
Huntington Beach incorporated on February 17, 1909 under its first mayor, Ed Manning. Its original developer was the Huntington Beach Company (formerly the West Coast Land and Water Company), a real-estate development firm owned by Henry Huntington. The Huntington Beach Company is still a major land-owner in the city, and still owns most of the local mineral rights.
An interesting hiccup in the settlement of the district occurred when an encyclopedia company gave away free parcels of land, with the purchase of a whole set for $126, in the Huntington Beach area that it had acquired cheaply. The lucky buyers got more than they had bargained for when oil was discovered in the area, and enormous development of the oil reserves followed. Though many of the old wells are empty, and the price of land for housing has pushed many of the rigs off the landscape, oil pumps can still be found to dot the city.
Huntington Beach was primarily agricultural in its early years with crops such as celery and sugar beets. Holly Sugar was a major employer with a large processing plant in the city that was later converted to an oil refinery.
The city's first high school, Huntington Beach High School was built in 1906. The school's team, the Oilers, are named after the city's original natural resource.
Meadowlark Airport, a small general aviation airport, existed in Huntington Beach from the 1950s until 1989.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 81.7 square kilometres (31.5 sq mi). 68.3 km2 (26.4 sq mi) of it is land and 13.4 km2 (5.2 sq mi) of it (16.38%) is water.
The entire city of Huntington Beach lies in area codes 657 and 714, except for small parts of Huntington Harbour (along with Sunset Beach, the unincorporated community adjacent to Huntington Harbour), which is in the 562 Area Code.
While Huntington Beach retains its 15-year trademark of Surf City Huntington Beach, the Huntington Beach Conference and Visitors Bureau filed four applications to register the Surf City USA trademark in November 2004. The idea was to market the city by creating an authentic brand based on Southern California's beach culture and active outdoor lifestyle while at the same time creating a family of product licensees who operate like a franchise family producing a revenue stream that could also be dedicated to promoting the brand and city. A ruling by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office released on May 12, 2006 awarded three trademark registrations to the Bureau; nine additional trademark registrations have been granted since this time and ten other Surf City USA trademarks are now under consideration. One of the first products the Bureau developed to promote its brand was the Surf City USA Beach Cruiser by Felt Bicycles in 2006. The product has sold out every year in markets worldwide and created demand for a second rental bicycle model that will be marketed to resort locations across the globe starting in 2009. The Bureau now has dozens of other licensed products on the market from Surf City USA soft drinks to clothing to glassware. As of April 2008, the Bureau had more than 20 licensing partners with over 50 different products being prepared to enter the market over the next 18 months. Four of the Bureau's registrations of the trademark are now on the principal register and the remaining ten trademark applications are expected to follow. The Bureau is actively considering registration of the Surf City USA trademark in several different countries and anticipates a growing market for its branded products overseas in coming years.
An ongoing dispute between Huntington Beach and Santa Cruz, California over the trademark garnered negative national publicity in 2007 when a law firm representing Huntington Beach sent a cease-and-desist letter to a Santa Cruz t-shirt vendor. A settlement was reached in January, 2008, which allows the Huntington Beach Conference and Visitors Bureau to retain the trademark.
The downtown district includes an active art center, a colorful shopping district, and the International Surfing Museum. This district was also once the home of the famous restaurant and music club "The Golden Bear." In the late 1960s and 1970s it hosted many famous bands and acts. The Huntington Beach Pier stretches from Main Street into the Pacific Ocean. At the end of the pier is a Ruby's Diner. The Surf Theatre, which was located one block north of the pier, gained fame in the 1960s and 1970s for showing independent surf films such as The Endless Summer and Five Summer Stories. The Surf Theatre was owned and operated by Hugh Larry Thomas from 1961 until it was demolished in 1989. A newer version of The Surf Theatre is now closed, but the International Surf Museum has preserved its memory with a permanent exhibit featuring vintage seats and screening of surfing movies once shown at a Huntington Beach theater.
Many of the events at Huntington Beach are focused around the beach during the summer. The U.S. Open of Surfing and Beach Games are featured on the south side of the pier. Huntington Beach is a stop on the AVP beach volleyball tour. A biathlon (swim/run) hosted by the Bolsa Chica & Huntington State Beach Lifeguards takes place in July, early at dawn. The race begins at the Santa Ana River Jetties and ends at Warner Avenue, Bolsa Chica State Beach. Huntington Beach Junior Lifeguard day camps are held which teaches preadolescents and adolescents ocean swimming, running, and first-aid medical knowledge.
In addition to the beach-focused events, the Fourth of July parade has been held since 1904. The SoCal Independent Film Festival takes place every September.
During the winter the annual Cruise of Lights Boat Tour is held in the Huntington Harbour neighborhood. This is a parade of colorful lighted boats as well as boat tours to view the decorated homes. The annual Kite Festival is held just north of the pier in late February.
Huntington Beach hosts car shows such as the Beachcruiser Meet and a Concours d'Elegance. The Beachcruiser Meet is held in March, attracting over 250 classic cars displayed along Main Street and the Pier parking lot. A Concours d'Elegance is held at Central Park in June and benefits the public library.
Surf City Nights is held during the entire year. The community-spirited event features a farmer's market, unique entertainment, food, kiddie rides and a carnival atmosphere, each Tuesday evening. Surf City Nights is presented by the Huntington Beach Downtown Business Improvement District (HBDBID) and the City of Huntington Beach. The event takes place in the first three blocks of Main Street from Pacific Coast Highway to Orange Avenue.
Huntington Beach is the site of the world surfing championships, held in the summer every year. The city is often referred to as "Surf City" because of this high profile event, its history and culture of surfing. It is often called the "Surfing Capital of the World", not for the height of the waves, but rather for the consistent quality of surf. Gordon Duane established the city's first surf shop, Gordie's Surfboards, in 1955.
Apart from sponsored surf events, Huntington Beach has some of the best surf breaks in the State of California and that of the United States. Huntington Beach has four different facing beaches: Northwest, West, Southwest, and South. Northwest consists of Bolsa Chica State Beach with a length of 3.3 miles (5.3 km), the West consist of "The Cliffs" or "Dog Beach", Southwest is considered everything north of the pier which is operated by the City of Huntington Beach. South consists in everything south of the pier which primarily focuses on Huntington State Beach (2.2 Miles), which almost faces true South.
Bolsa Chica State Beach is operated by the State of California, Dept. Parks & Recreation, and the Bolsa Chica State Beach Lifeguards. The beach is very narrow and the sand is very coarse. Bolsa Chica tends to have better surf with NW/W swells during the winter season. During the summer months the beach picks up south/southwest swells at a very steep angle. Due to the bottom of the beach, surf at Bolsa Chica tends to be slowed down and refined to soft shoulders. Longboards are the best option for surfing in the Bolsa Chica area.
"The Cliffs" or "Dog Beach" is also another popular surf spot. This segment of Huntington Beach obtains these names because dogs are allowed around the cliff area. Beach is very restricted and often is submerged with high tides. Surf at this location tends to be even bigger than Bolsa Chica during the winter and often better. During the summer most of the South/Southwest swells slide right by and often break poorly. The best option is to take out a longboard, but shortboards will do at times. Dolphins have also been sighted in this area.
Just north and south of the Huntington Beach Pier are some well defined sandbars that shift throughout the year with the different swells. Southside of the Pier is often a popular destination during the summer for good surf, but the Northside can be just as well during the winter. Around the Pier it all depends on the swell and the sandbars. Shortboard is your best option for surfing around the Pier.
South Huntington Beach, also known as Huntington State Beach, is where all the south swells impact the coastline. Huntington State Beach is operated by the State of California, Department of Parks & Recreation, and Huntington State Beach Lifeguards. This beach is very wide with plenty of sand. Sandbars dramatically shift during the spring, summer and fall seasons, thus creating excellent surf conditions with a combination South/West/Northwest swell. Due to the Santa Ana River jetties located at the southern most end of the beach, large sandbars extend across and upcoast, forcing swells to break extremely fast and hollow. Best seasons for surfing at this beach is the summer and fall. The best option for surfing in this area is a shortboard.
Huntington Beach is also a popular destination for kite surfing, and this sport can be viewed on the beach northwest of the pier.
Huntington Beach is the host city of the National Professional Paintball League Super 7 Paintball Championships. The NPPL holds its first event of the year traditionally between the dates of March 23 through March 26.
Huntington Beach also hosts the annual Surf City USA Marathon and Half-Marathon, which is usually held on the first Sunday of February.
Huntington Beach has a very large Central Park, located between Gothard and Edwards Streets to the east and west, and Slater and Ellis Avenues to the north and south. The park is vegetated with xeric (low water use) plants, and inhabited by native wildlife. Thick forests encircling the park are supplemented with Australian trees, particularly eucalyptus, a high water use plant.
The Huntington Beach Public Library is located in Central Park in a notable building designed by Richard Neutra and Dion Neutra. It houses almost a half-million volumes, as well as a theater, gift shop and fountains. The library was founded as a Carnegie library in 1914, and has been continuously supported by the city and local activists, with new buildings and active branches at Banning, Oak View, Main Street, and Graham. The library has significant local historical materials and has a special genealogical reference collection. It is independent of the state and county library systems.
The park is also home of Huntington Central Park Equestrian Center, a top class boarding facility that also offers horse rentals to the public, with guided trail rides through the park. There is also a "mud park" available for kids. The world's second oldest disc golf course is available in the park, as are two small dining areas, a sports complex for adult use, and the Shipley Nature Center.
The Bolsa Chica Wetlands, which are diminishing rapidly due to development, contains numerous trails and scenic routes. The wetlands themselves have recently been connected with the ocean again, in effort to maintain its previous, unaltered conditions.