Lobero Theatre, Canon Perdito Street
The strange name of this street dates back to 1847 when the USA and Mexico were at war. The American brig Elizabeth was wrecked near Santa Barbara and local interest in her salvaged cannon is commemorated in the name Canon Perdido Street. The Lobero Theatre came along a little later, in 1873 to be precise. It was built by Italian born Josť Lobero as an opera house. In 1922 the Community Arts Association purchased the theatre which was by then in a bad state of repair. It reopened to the public in 1924, rebuilt to a design by architect George Washington Smith.
Dating back to 1782, El Presidio was used as the local military and government headquarters. Unfortunately, most of the original buildings were demolished after the city’s grid of streets was laid out in the 1850s and 1860s running right through El Presidio. Some parts of the quadrangle survived but it was cut into four parts by Canon Perdito and Santa Barbara Streets intersecting in the middle of the site. In 1966, the land that El Presidio occupied became a State Historic Park and some buildings were reconstructed. This picture has been taken from a cunning angle to hide Santa Barbara Street, but you should have no difficulty spotting where it cuts through the buildings. Click Tab 2 to see a picture of the interior of El Presidio Chapel.
Sunrise over Stearns Wharf
The centrepiece of the Santa Barbara waterfront is Stearns Wharf. Built in 1872 by local lumberman John P. Stearns it was designed to handle both passenger and freight shipping. In the 20th century, shipping traffic declined and during World War II it was used as a naval installation. Although some ships still dock at the wharf, its prime role now is tourism with around 5 million visitors coming to its shops and restaurants each year. Despite the 1926 earthquake and devastating fires in 1973 and 1998, some parts of the wharf date right back to 1872.
Waterfront at Stearn's Wharf
While Santa Barbara shuns the tacky sea front attractions found in many beach resorts, the waterfront is maybe a little down market from the city centre. Certainly when we last visited there were several down and outs on the waterfront near Stearns Wharf. Nevertheless, this area is worth visiting, not just to see the wharf but also for the view of the city against the backdrop of the Santa Ynez mountains.
Santa Barbara is a coastal city about 150 kilometres (95 miles) west of Los Angeles. With the sea on one side and the Santa Ynez mountains circling round the landward side, it has a Mediterranean climate and hence promotes itself as the American Riviera. The Santa Barbara Royal Presidio was founded by the Spanish in 1782 and in 1786 Mission Santa Barbara was founded. The town sprang up around the Presidio and Mission and it grew steadily through Spanish, Mexican and American rule. By 1925 it had grown into a city of around 30,000 people when it was hit by a devastating earthquake, measuring 6.8 on the Richter Scale. The city authorities established planning rules that required the city to be rebuilt in a cohesive low rise Mediterranean style. That style still persists even though Santa Barbara has now grown to a city of over 90,000 people.
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State Street from Figuerola Street
The main shopping street of Santa Barbara has several shopping malls, but the planning rules have ensured that they blend in with the city. It is so refreshing to visit an American city where it is palm trees and not advertising signs that tower over the buildings. Another refreshing aspect of Santa Barbara is its range of ethnic restaurants. In most US towns and cities you may have difficulty finding any non-American cuisine other than French, Italian, Chinese or Mexican. We found a range of ethnic restaurants in Santa Barbara that could easily match UK cities.
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