History in Santa Monica

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In 1542, Juan Rodriquez Cabrillo anchored in Santa Monica Bay. Padre Juan Crespi, named the area after Saint Monica in 1769. The explorer Gaspar de Portoia's party was the first group to set foot in the area. Padre Juan Crespi, a Franciscan monk, was part of this party. He named the area after Saint Monica on account of the free flowing spring that was reminiscent of Saint Monica, who wept for her wayward son. Santa Monica was at this time under Spanish rule.

Californians fought against colonial expansion from the US in the 1840s. It was one of the bloodiest wars during the Mexican - American War.  The US inevitably won the battle and the US Government became the governing sovereign over California.  

The Sepulveda family sold 38,409 acres of the land for $54,000 to Robert Baker and his wife Arcadia Bandini de Stearns Baker bought what is now Pacific Palisades for $40,000 in 1872.  Nevada Senator John P. Jones bought half of the property in 1874 for $162,000. Jones and Baker subdivided and created the town of Santa Monica in 1875. Jones donated the 26 acre Palisades Park to the city, and started selling off lots.  In 9 months the ocean side area of Santa Monica grew in population to 1000 people. Jones built the Los Angeles and Independence Railroad that connected Santa Monica to Los Angeles. The first building was built in 1873 for the town hall and now is the Santa Monica Hostel, which is still Santa Monica's oldest structure.  

A lot of development started occurring in the late 1800s. The Arcadia Hotel was built as one of the grandest oceanfront resort hotels in Southern California in 1886. Colonel Griffith J. Griffith shot his wife here in 1904, which led to their divorce and him to prison. The residents voted to incorporate Santa Monica on November 30th, and in 1893, Santa Monica's mile long wharf is built, and becomes the major port of call for Los Angeles. At the time it was the longest in the world at 4700 feet. Santa Monica's famous Pier opened in 1909 - the oldest pier on the West Coast. 10 years later, Santa Monica population was standing strong at 37,000.

Will Rogers bought 345 acres in Rustic Canyon, built a horse ranch and polo field for players Spencer Tracy, and Walt Disney, SenatorJones' mansion became the Miramar Hotel, of which Greta Garbo checked in to as the first US residence in the 1920s.  Later in 1955, Santa Monica inherited Will Roger's 345 acre State Historic Park.

In recent years, the famous pier saw a $45 million restoration project begin in 1984, the Third Street Promenade opened in 1989, and in 2009, the restored Santa Monica Pier celebrated it's Centennial.

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