Santa Barbara is a city in Santa Barbara County, California, United States. Situated on an east-west trending section of coastline, the longest such section on the west coast, between the steeply-rising Santa Ynez Mountains and the sea, and having a Mediterranean climate, it is called California's "South Coast", and is also sometimes referred to casually as the "American Riviera." As of the census of 2000, the city had a population of 92,325 while the contiguous urban area, which includes the cities of Goleta and Carpinteria, along with the unincorporated regions of Isla Vista, Montecito, Mission Canyon, Hope Ranch, Summerland, and others, had an approximate population of 200,000.
In addition to being a popular tourist and resort destination, the city has a robust economy which includes a large service sector, education, technology, health care, finance, agriculture, manufacturing, and local government. In 2004, the service sector accounted for fully 35% of local employment. Education in particular is well-represented, with five institutions of higher learning on the south coast (the University of California, Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara City College, Westmont College, Antioch University, and the Brooks Institute of Photography.) The Santa Barbara Airport services the city, as does Amtrak. U.S. Highway 101 connects the Santa Barbara area with Los Angeles to the south and San Francisco to the north. Behind the city, in and beyond the Santa Ynez Mountains, is the Los Padres National Forest, which contains several remote wilderness areas.
The history of the city begins at least 13,000 years ago with the ancestors of the present-day Chumash. Evidence for a Paleoindian presence includes a fluted Clovis-like point found in the 1980s along the western Santa Barbara County coast, as well as the remains of Arlington Springs Man, found on Santa Rosa Island in the 1960s. Approximately 8,000 to 10,000 Chumash lived on the south coast of Santa Barbara County when Portuguese explorer João Cabrilho sailed through the Santa Barbara Channel in 1542, anchoring briefly in the area. In 1602 Sebastian Vizcaino gave the name "Santa Barbara" to the region, in gratitude for having survived a violent storm in the Channel on December 3, the eve of the feast day of that saint.
A land expedition led by Gaspar de Portolá and accompanied by missionary Padre Junipero Serra visited in 1769, but did not stay. The first permanent European residents were Spanish missionaries and soldiers under Felipe de Neve and again accompanied by Serra, who came in 1782 to build the Presidio and Mission. They were sent both to fortify the region against expansion by other powers such as England and Russia, and to convert the natives to Christianity. Many of the Spanish brought their families with them, and those formed the nucleus of the small town – at first just a cluster of adobes – that surrounded the Presidio. Mission Santa Barbara was dedicated December 4, 1786, the feast day of Saint Barbara. The Mission fathers began the slow work of converting the native Chumash to Christianity, building a village for them on the Mission grounds. Many of the natives died in the following decades of diseases such as smallpox to which they had no natural immunity.
The most dramatic event of the Spanish period was the powerful 1812 earthquake and tsunami, one of the strongest in California history, which destroyed the Mission as well as the rest of the town; water reached as high as present-day Anapamu street, and carried a ship half a mile up Refugio Canyon. Following the earthquake, the Mission fathers chose to rebuild in a grander manner, and it is this construction that survives to the present day, the best-preserved of the California Missions.
The Spanish period ended in 1822 with the end of the Mexican War of Independence which terminated three hundred years of colonial rule. The flag of Mexico went up the flagpole at the Presidio, but only for 24 years.
After the secularization of the Missions in 1833, immense amounts of land formerly held by the Church were distributed by the Mexican governors of California to various families in order to reward service or build alliances. These land grants commenced the "Rancho Period" in California and Santa Barbara history. The population remained sparse, with enormous cattle operations run by wealthy families. It was during this period that Richard Henry Dana, Jr. first visited Santa Barbara and wrote about it in Two Years Before the Mast.
Santa Barbara fell bloodlessly to a battalion of American soldiers under John C. Frémont on December 27, 1846, during the Mexican-American War, and after the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo it became part of the expanding United States.
Change came quickly after Santa Barbara's acquisition by the United States. The population doubled between 1850 and 1860. In 1851, land surveyor Salisbury Haley designed the street grid, famously botching the block measurements, misaligning the streets; wood construction replaced adobe, as American settlers moved in; and during the Gold Rush years and following, the town became a haven for bandits and gamblers, and a dangerous and lawless place. Charismatic gambler and highwayman Jack Powers had virtual control of the town in the early 1850s, until driven out by a posse organized in San Luis Obispo. English gradually supplanted Spanish as the language of daily life, becoming the language of official record in 1870. The first newspaper, the Santa Barbara Gazette, was founded in 1855.
While the Civil War had little effect on Santa Barbara, the disastrous drought of 1863 ended the Rancho Period, as most of the cattle died and ranchos were broken up and sold. The building of Stearns Wharf in 1872 enhanced Santa Barbara's commercial and tourist accessibility; previously goods and visitors had to transfer from steamboats to smaller craft to row ashore. During the 1870s, writer Charles Nordhoff promoted the town as a health resort and destination for well-to-do travelers from other parts of the U.S.; many of them came, and many stayed. The luxurious Arlington Hotel dated from this period. In 1887 the railroad finally went through to Los Angeles, and in 1901 to San Francisco: Santa Barbara was now easily accessible by land and by sea, and development was brisk.
Just before the turn of the century, oil was discovered at the Summerland Oil Field, and the region along the beach east of Santa Barbara sprouted numerous oil derricks and piers for drilling offshore. This was the first offshore oil development in the world; oil drilling offshore would become a contentious practice in the Santa Barbara area to the present day.
Santa Barbara housed the world's largest movie studio during the era of silent film. Flying A Studios, a division of the American Film Company, operated on two city blocks centered at State and Mission between 1910 and 1922, with the industry shutting down locally and moving to Hollywood once it outgrew the area, needing the resources of a larger city. Flying A and the other smaller local studios produced approximately 1,200 films during their tenure in Santa Barbara, of which approximately 100 survive.
During this period, the Loughead Aircraft Company was established on lower State Street, and regularly tested seaplanes off of East Beach. This was the genesis of what would later become Lockheed
The earthquake of June 29, 1925, the first destructive earthquake in California since the 1906 San Francisco quake, destroyed much of Santa Barbara and killed 13 or 14 people. The low death toll is attributed to the early hour (6:23 a.m., before most people were out on the streets, vulnerable to falling masonry). While this quake, like the one in 1812, was centered in the Santa Barbara Channel, it caused no tsunami, and most of the damage was caused by two onshore aftershocks. It came at an opportune time for rebuilding, since a movement for architectural reform and unification around a Spanish Colonial style was already underway. Under the leadership of Pearl Chase, many of the city's famous buildings rose as part of the rebuilding process, including the Santa Barbara County Courthouse, sometimes praised as the "most beautiful public building in the United States."
During World War II Santa Barbara was home to a Marine base, at the site of present-day UCSB; a Navy installation at the harbor; was near to the Army's Camp Cook, present-day Vandenberg Air Force Base; and contained a hospital for treating servicemen wounded in the Pacific Theatre. On February 23, 1942, not long after the outbreak of war in the Pacific, a Japanese submarine emerged from the ocean and lobbed 16 shells at the Elwood Oil Field, about 10 miles (16 km) west of Santa Barbara, the only direct attack on the U.S. mainland during the entire war, and the first wartime attack by an enemy power on U.S. soil since the War of 1812. Although the gunners were terrible marksmen, and only caused about $500 damage to a catwalk, panic was immediate. Many Santa Barbara residents fled, and land values plummeted to historic lows. Numerous dud shells have been retained by memorabilia-seeking locals.
After the war many of the servicemen who had seen Santa Barbara returned to stay. The population surged by 10,000 people between the end of the war and 1950. This burst of growth had dramatic consequences for the local economy and infrastructure. Highway 101 was built through town during this period, and newly built Lake Cachuma began supplying water via a tunnel dug through the mountains between 1950 and 1956.
Local relations with the oil industry gradually soured through the period. Production at Summerland had ended, Elwood was winding down, and to find new fields oil companies carried out seismic exploration of the Channel using explosives, a controversial practice that local fishermen claimed harmed their catch. The culminating disaster, and one of the formative events in the modern environmental movement, was the blowout at Union Oil's Platform A on January 28, 1969. Approximately 100,000 barrels of oil surged out of a huge undersea break, fouling hundreds of square miles of ocean and all the coastline from Ventura to Goleta, as well north facing beaches on the Channel Islands. Two legislative consequences of the spill in the next year were the passages of the California Envirnomental Quality Act (CEQA) and the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA); locally, outraged citizens formed GOO (Get Oil Out).
Santa Barbara's business community strove to attract development until the surge in the anti-growth movement in the 1970s. Many "clean" industries, especially aerospace firms such as Raytheon and Delco Electronics, moved to town in the 1950s and 1960s, bringing employees from other parts of the U.S. UCSB itself became a major employer. In 1975, the city passed an ordinance restricting growth to a maximum of 85,000 residents, through zoning. Growth in the adjacent Goleta Valley could be shut down by denying water meters to developers seeking permits. As a result of these changes, growth slowed down, but prices rose sharply.
Four destructive fires affected Santa Barbara during this time: the 1964 Coyote Fire, which burned 67,000 acres (270 km2) of backcountry along with 150 homes; the smaller but quickly moving Sycamore Fire in 1977, which burned 200 homes; the disastrous 1990 Painted Cave Fire, which incinerated over 500 homes in only several hours, during an intense Sundowner wind event; and the November 2008 Tea Fire, which destroyed 210 homes in the foothills of Santa Barbara and Montecito before being put out.
When voters approved connection to State water supplies in 1991, parts of the city, especially outlying areas, resumed growth, but more slowly than during the boom period of the 1950s and 1960s. While the slower growth preserved the quality of life for most residents and prevented the urban sprawl notorious in the Los Angeles basin, housing in the Santa Barbara area was in short supply, and prices soared: in 2006, only six percent of residents could afford a median-value house. As a result, many people who work in Santa Barbara commute from adjacent, more affordable areas, such as Santa Maria, Lompoc, and Ventura. The resultant traffic on incoming arteries, particularly the stretch of Highway 101 between Ventura and Santa Barbara, is another problem being addressed by long-range planners.
In 2006, in a controversial move, the city's major news daily, the Santa Barbara News-Press, fired, or accepted the resignations of, a large portion of their newsroom staff. The departing reporters and editors claimed that the ethical standards of the newspaper had slipped, in particular that owner Wendy McCaw inappropriately inserted herself into content decisions. Some of the staff, including columnist Barney Brantingham, joined the competing Independent. News-Press management described the departures as having occurred over "differences of opinion as to direction, goals and vision."
Santa Barbara is located about 90 miles (140 km) WNW of Los Angeles, along the Pacific coast. This stretch of coast along southern Santa Barbara County is often referred to as the "American Riviera" because its geography and Mediterranean climate are reminiscent of the French and Italian Riviera coastline along the Mediterranean. The Santa Ynez Mountains, an east-west trending range, rise dramatically behind the city, with several peaks exceeding 4,000 feet (1,200 m). Covered with chaparral and with sandstone outcrops, they make a famously scenic backdrop to the town. Sometimes, perhaps once every three years, snow falls on the mountains, but it rarely stays for more than a few days. Nearer to town, and directly east and adjacent to Mission Santa Barbara, is a hill known locally as the "Riviera," traversed by "Alameda Padre Serra" (shortened APS), "Father Serra's pathway." The hillside, made accessible by the advent of the automobile early in the 20th century, is now built with relatively expensive homes. A spectacularly beautiful area looking south toward the Pacific and the Channel Islands and having sunrise to sunset views, Santa Barbara became the winter destination for the titans of post-Civil War America. Private railroad cars clustered on the sidings at Santa Barbara. The Potter Hotel overlooking Santa Barbara's West Beach was a world renowned resort. Owners of industry visited Santa Barbara and chose Santa Barbara hillside locations for their grand estates. Others preferred the beach and built palatially there, from Sandyland Cove, Padaro Lane, the city beaches, and west to what is now Goleta.
The architectural image of Santa Barbara is the Spanish Colonial Revival style of architecture adopted by city leaders after the 1925 earthquake destroyed much of the downtown commercial district. The domestic architecture of Santa Barbara is predominantly California bungalows built in the early decades of the 20th century, with many Victorian homes adorning the "Upper East" and Spanish style homes designed by well known California architects in Santa Barbara and on estates in Montecito and Hope Ranch. The city has passed ordinances against billboards and regulates outdoor advertising, so the city is relatively free of advertising clutter.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 41.4 square miles (107.3 km²), of which, 19.0 square miles (49.2 km²) of it is land and 22.4 square miles (58.1 km²) of it (54.17%) is water. The high official figures for water is due to the city limit extending into the ocean, including a strip of city reaching out into the sea and inland again to keep the Santa Barbara Airport (SBA) within the city boundary.
As of the census of 2000, there were 92,325 people*, 35,605 households, and 18,941 families residing in the city. The population density was 4,865.3 people per square mile (1,878.1/km²). There were 37,076 housing units at an average density of 1,953.8/sq mi (754.2/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 74.04% White, 1.77% African American, 1.07% Native American, 2.77% Asian, 0.14% Pacific Islander, 16.37% from other races, and 3.85% from two or m