Since the days when the Santa Monica area was under the rule of the Mexican Republic, local history has been filled with milestone events and cultural phenomena that make the city the anomaly it is today.
Santa Monica Historical Society Museum founder Louise B. Gabriel has documented these historical milestones in her new photo book, Early Santa Monica, part of the Images of America series, released by Arcadia Publishing.
The book is available at the Santa Monica Historical Society Museum, 1539 Euclid St., Santa Monica. The museum will hold a lecture and book signing by the author at 2 p.m. Sunday, August 20th, at the Santa Monica Bay Woman’s Club, 1210 Fourth Street, Santa Monica. Admission is free.
A patchwork of about 200 vintage photographs from collections of the Santa Monica Public Library, photographer Bill Beebe and The Outlook (formerly Santa Monica’s oldest newspaper, in operation until 1998, for which Beebe was a photographer) and the Santa Monica Historical Society Museum, plus a variety of public and private sources, Early Santa Monica is strung together by Gabriel’s facts and footnotes that accompany each photograph.
Main topics of historical relevance included in the book are the incorporating of the city and auctioning of land due to the efforts of gold prospector Colonel Robert S. Baker and wealthy Nevada Senator John P. Jones; the development of the city; everyday life and the breaking of ground for churches, City Hall and other historical buildings; pleasure piers and amusement culture; beach sports, recreation and the original Muscle Beach; businesses that impacted the region; the “Gold Coast” and local celebrities such as Lawrence Welk, Marion Davies and Shirley Temple, along with the historic movie theaters that contributed to their fame; shopping and the historic Third Street Promenade area; and Donald Douglas’s airplanes and how World War II affected the local area.
The book offers a glimpse of historical structures long gone, as well as the Arch Rock, a natural wonder in the form of a stone cylinder that existed on what is now a stretch of the Pacific Coast Highway; and explains the origins of other landmarks. For example, the site of the Fairmont-Miramar Hotel was formerly “Miramar,” the mansion of Senator John P. Jones.
The book offers a visual tour of the roots of what the City of Santa Monica has become today and offers a historical explanation of the structures, culture and ways of life that have become Santa Monica’s identity. Photographs in the book span from the late 1800s to the mid-20th century.
Author/editor Gabriel is currently president the Santa Monica Historical Society Museum, and she played a role in organizing the Santa Monica Centennial celebration in 1975.
She is a longtime resident of Santa Monica and has surpassed 45 years of ongoing community service benefiting the young, elderly, and disadvantaged. She is a past president of the Santa Monica Hospital Auxiliary, Santa Monica College Patrons, Santa Monica Salvation Army Auxiliary, Santa Monica Boy’s Club Auxiliary and Santa Monica Bay Woman’s Club.
Information, (310) 395-2290.