13,000 years ago Native Americans called the Chumash settled this
area. By the time the Spanish Missionaries arrived, they were
living all along the coast and on the Channel Islands. One hundred
and fifty independent villages had a population of about 18,000.
The people spoke different but related languages.
According to the Natural History Museum, "This
trade was made possible in part by the seagoing plank canoe, or tomol,
which was invented about 2,000 years ago. In addition to the plank
canoe, the Chumash are known for their fine basketry, their mysterious
cave paintings and their money made from shells."
Chumash history site is quite interesting.
The Mission Period
The Mission and El Presidio were settled at about the same time in the
1780s. They began an era of colonization and the Christianization
of the native Chumash. The missions were secularized in the 1820s
(when the ending almost fifty years of growth. Good sites to
view are: The
Mission site and the
Preservation Society site. The Spanish governed the area until
1822, when California became a Mexican territory until 1846 when Colonel
John Fremont and his soldiers took Santa Barbara for the United States.
The Rancho Period
Agriculture and ranching became strong from 1830 to 1865. Although
Mexican and Americans ruled during this time, the actual lifestyle of
the locals was not affected greatly. Horses, cattle ranches and
community were the focal points of this era.
The Victorian Period
After the Civil War, the face of Santa Barbara began to change.
Victorian houses soon outnumbered Spanish Colonials. Shipping grew
in prominance, as goods and people from the East began pouring in
through the small, but growing, port. This begins a period of great
experimentation. Agriculture becomes more important as people
realize that just about anything planted grows here.
The Earthquake of 1925
The town is devastated by the earthquake. Local towns folk
realized that most of the Victorians had burned and most of the
buildings left standing were the Spanish Colonials, that relied more
heavily on indigenous building techniques. An ordinance is passed
making the downtown area Spanish Colonial. UCSB
has a good site to see for Earthquake information.
The Boom Period
Somewhere between the Earthquake and now, Santa Barbara exploded from a
quiet agricultural community to a busy, well rounded
Tidbits of interesting facts include:
- When the Rincon portion of Rt 101 was built in the
1930s, it marked the first time you could actually drive to Santa
Barbara along the coast.
- During WWII, Japanese fired 16 shells. They
caused no injuries but did cause $500 damage to a shed and catwalk
at the seaside Barnsdall-Rio Grande Oil Co. field along Goleta
- Parts of the Mission's aqueduct are still in use by
the city's waterworks department even today.
- Many early movies were filmed in Santa
Barbara. It was the first "Hollywood of the North."