view of santa monica pier and the beach at sunsetSanta Monica has a solid reputation among LA locals looking for beaches, laid-back glamor and good vibes close to the city. Before the beaches were filled with bathing suits and volleyball courts, and before the pier attracted thousands by the day, Santa Monica went through a long history of evolving. To give our visitors some context, we created a brief breakdown of the history of Santa Monica.

Original Settlers

The area where Santa Monica now exists was originally inhabited by the Gabrielino and Chumash Indians. These natives lost the land originally to Spanish settlers in the 1500s, and then were left to reckon with trades of power to Mexico and then the U.S. The U.S. did promise around 1.2 million acres of LA land back to the tribes, but then failed to ever fully deliver on those promises.

The Naming of Santa Monica

The story behind the original Spanish settlers says that Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo pulled up in the Santa Monica Bay in 1542. This was the beginning of a settlement and exploration of the area by Europeans. In the late 1700s, Gaspar de Portola, a Spanish explorer, came across two springs on a hot day in the Santa Monica area. The relief from the water, and the beauty of the area inspired him and his men to name the place after Saint Monica, because it was her Saint’s day on the religious calendar.

Mexican Rule and Gold Rush Purchases

In 1828, the Spanish settlers sold the land of Rancho San Vicente y Santa Monica to Don Francisco Sepulveda and the Mexican Republic. This ownership would only last about two decades until Colonel Robert S. Baker came from Rhode Island to the West Coast in the great Gold rush. He purchased the land from Don Francisco for $55,000 to find land for his cattle to roam. Later, a U.S. Senator named John P. Jones bought into the ranch, envisioning it as a future commercial hub for the southwest.

Santa Monica Since

John P. Jones definitely had the right vision for Santa Monica, which has since become a destination of culture and relaxation in Los Angeles Counties. Known for its excellent beaches, world-class restaurants, and brilliant arts scene, the city of Santa Monica has come along ways from its earlier years.

Discover More of Santa Monica

Experience the best of Santa Monica. Check out The Ambrose blog for our insider guide to the SoCal getaway.