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Santa Cruz in California.


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Santa Cruz is the county seat and largest city of Santa Cruz County, California in the US. As of the 2008 census estimate, Santa Cruz had a total population of 56,124. It is located on the northern edge of the Monterey Bay, about 72 mi (115 km) south of San Francisco.

The present-day site of Santa Cruz was the location of an American Indian settlement since ancient times. It was also one of the earliest settlements of the Spanish during the exploration of Alta California in the later part of the 18th century, including a California Mission, Mission Santa Cruz. During the late 19th century, after California became part of the United States, Santa Cruz became widely popular for its idyllic beaches and coastal redwood forests, establishing itself as a resort community.

Santa Cruz is now known for its moderate climate, natural beauty, educational institutions, alternative community lifestyles, and socially liberal leanings. It is also home to University of California, Santa Cruz, a premier research institution and educational hub, as well as the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, an oceanfront amusement park.



Santa Cruz's downtown area consists of a segment of Pacific Avenue and adjacent streets. This area is known for shopping in locally-owned businesses (formerly known as the Pacific Garden Mall), and is the city's cultural center with several book stores and independent movie theaters, The Catalyst nightclub, bars which often feature live music, a variety of street performers, an art museum, and a civic auditorium. The atmosphere is generally peaceful and relaxed; people play music and sing. On weekends, at the fork of Pacific Avenue and Front Street, representatives of the local Brazilian and Portuguese-speaking populations have dance contests. There has been a local campaign to "Keep Santa Cruz Weird", and Robert Steffen, a gentleman who walks slowly down Pacific Avenue dressed in pink women's clothing, pink makeup, and a pink parasol demonstrates this. The "Keep Santa Cruz Weird" movement has even inspired a line of merchandise produced by Made in Santa Cruz containing this phrase.

Roy Rydell was engaged as the landscape architect for the former Pacific Garden Mall and other notable places in Santa Cruz including: Abbott Square beside The Museum of Art & History and Lulu's at the historical Octagon, Plaza Branciforte on Soquel Avenue, the Town Clock Plaza, the Communication Building at UCSC, Deer Park Center, Santa Cruz City Hall Annex, and the Alfred Hitchcock estate.

During the Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989, several buildings along what was known as the Pacific Garden Mall were destroyed, including the former beaux arts courthouse renamed and reopened in the 1960s as the Cooper House. The Cooper House was widely regarded as the heart of the downtown area and featured outdoor music played each day by Don McCaslin's band "Warmth". The Cooper House had a restaurant and bar that went through several owners throughout the 1980s but consistently attracted the townspeople, their guests, and local characters such as "Rainbow Ginger" to the outdoor patio where cocktails, food, music, and people watching were always on the menu. Since the earthquake, the old "Pacific Garden Mall" theme was eliminated, and an updated downtown design plan by ROMA Design Group was implemented. The few remaining empty lots on Pacific Avenue are currently in the process of being developed.

Parks, beaches, and greenbelt districts

Santa Cruz is home to several state parks and beaches, including Lighthouse Field State Beach, Natural Bridges State Beach, Santa Cruz Mission State Historic Park, Twin Lakes State Beach, and Seabright State Beach.

Santa Cruz has five greenbelt districts, including Arana Gulch, Lighthouse Field, Moore Creek, Neary Lagoon, and Pogonip. Pogonip is a city-run park and open space located adjacent to the University of California, Santa Cruz. It includes second-growth redwoods and meadows as well as several streams, and is crossed by several hiking trails. The Pogonip also includes a former country club, with its golf courses and polo fields. The name for the park is derived from the Ohlone Native American word pogonip meaning "icy fog". There are also three regional parks and twenty-one neighborhood parks.


Santa Cruz is well-known for watersports such as sailing, diving, swimming, paddling, and is regarded as one of the best spots in the world for surfing. It is the home of O'Neill Wetsuits and Santa Cruz Surfboards, as well as Santa Cruz Skateboards and Santa Cruz Bicycles. Santa Cruz also houses Derby skate park. The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk is California’s oldest amusement park and a designated State Historic Landmark. Home to a National Historic Landmark, a 1911 Charles I. D. Looff Carousel and 1924 Giant Dipper roller coaster, the Boardwalk has been owned and operated by the Santa Cruz Seaside Company since 1915.

In one of the first published descriptions of surfing in California, three Hawaiian princes, Prince Edward Keliʻiahonui, Prince David Kawānanakoa and Prince Jonah Kalanianaʻole, surfed on locally milled redwood boards at the mouth of the San Lorenzo River in July 1885. Santa Cruz has 11 world-class surf breaks, including the point breaks over rock bottoms near Steamer Lane and Pleasure Point, which create some of the best surfing waves in the world. The Santa Cruz Surfing Museum at Steamer Lane is staffed by docents from the Santa Cruz Surfing Club who have surfed Santa Cruz waves since the 1930s. Santa Cruz hosts several surf contests drawing international participants each year, including the O'Neill Cold Water Classic, the International Longboard Association contest, and many others.

The Santa Cruz Wharf is known for fishing, viewing marine mammals and other recreation. Local parks offer many opportunities for birding and butterfly watching, as well as outdoor sports such as skateboarding, cycling, camping, hiking, and rock climbing. In addition to its reputation in surfing and skateboarding, Santa Cruz is known for other alternative sports such as disc golf. The Santa Cruz Skatepark is open to the public 7 days a week and is free. The De Laveaga Disc Golf Course hosts PDGA tournaments, including the annual Masters Cup. De Laveaga was the disc golf and discathon venue for the WFDF-sanctioned World Disc Games overall event held in Santa Cruz in July 2005.
Sun sets on the wharf and the city skyline

The city also is often said to be a huge hot spot for Volkswagen Beetle enthusiasts, featuring many in local auto shows annually. One of the Volkswagen Beetle's custom variations, the "So-Cal" Bug, has received nationwide attention as a true California surf car. Many of these are seen on the beaches in Santa Cruz, as well as the occasional Volkswagen Bus.

Cultural attractions

Santa Cruz has several smaller attractions, including the University of California, Santa Cruz, Arboretum, Mission Santa Cruz, the Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History, the Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History and the Santa Cruz Surfing Museum which is housed in a lighthouse near Steamer Lane.

Cultural events

Santa Cruz County Symphony — Founded in 1958, the Santa Cruz County Symphony is a fully professional ensemble of 65 members which presents an annual concert series at the Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium and the Mello Center in Watsonville. Additional offerings include musician school visits, free concerts for area school children, family concerts, and pops concerts.
Shakespeare Santa Cruz — An annual summer festival at UC Santa Cruz, the event typically performs two Shakespeare plays and one other play every summer, many of which are performed in a unique outdoor space among the redwoods.
Santa Cruz Film Festival — An annual event for independent filmmakers to share their work with film enthusiasts
Santa Cruz Pride — The annual parade is a celebration of sexual preference and diversity in Santa Cruz, held on the Pacific Avenue mall.
Open Studios Art Tour — The art fair has been run for more than three decades and draws artists and patrons from around the area.
O'Neill Cold Water Classic — An annual surfing event that draws crowds at the popular Steamer Lane.
Wharf to Wharf Race — An annual race which has been held for more than three decades.
Woodies on the Wharf — An annual woodies show that takes place on the Santa Cruz Wharf.
Santa Cruz Farmers Market – Several year-round outdoor markets showcasing the agricultural diversity of the Central Coast region with emphasis on sustainable agriculture and organic food. Regional specialties include strawberry, apple, artichoke, artisan goat cheeses and brassica. The main market is held downtown on Wednesdays.

Historic places

Golden Gate Villa
Mission Santa Cruz

Landmarks on the National Register of Historic Places:

A. J. Hinds House (8/25/1983)
Allan Brown Site (6/25/1981)
Bank of Santa Cruz County (3/15/1982)
Branciforte Adobe (1/31/1979)
Carmelita Court (3/20/1986)
Cope Row Houses (1/28/1982)
Cowell Lime Works Historic District (11/21/2007)
Elias H. Robinson House (1/9/1998)
Garfield Park Branch Library (3/26/1992)
Glen Canyon Covered Bridge (5/17/1984)
Golden Gate Villa (7/24/1975)
Hotel Metropole (5/23/1979)
Live Oak Ranch (7/10/1975)
Looff Carousel and Roller Coaster (2/27/1987)
Mission Hill Area Historic District (5/17/1976)
Neary-Rodriguez Adobe (2/24/1975)
Octagon Building (3/24/1971)
Santa Cruz Downtown Historic District (7/27/1989)
US Post Office-Santa Cruz Main (1/11/1985)
Veterans Memorial Building (4/27/1992)

Landmarks on the California Register of Historical Resources:
Mission Santa Cruz
Center of Villa de Branciforte
Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk

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