Santa Barbara is located about 90 miles (140 km) WNW of Los Angeles, along the Pacific coast. This stretch of coast along southern Santa Barbara County is often referred to as the "American Riviera" because of its Mediterranean climate. It is the historical home of the Chumash Tribe. The Santa Ynez Mountains, an east-west trending range, rise dramatically behind the city, with several peaks exceeding 4,000 feet (1,200 m). Covered with chaparral and with sandstone outcrops, they make a famously scenic backdrop to the town. Nearer to town, and directly east and adjacent to Mission Santa Barbara, is a hill known locally as the "Riviera" traversed by "Alameda Padre Serra" (shortened APS) the pathway of Father Serra. The hillside, made accessible by the advent of the automobile early in the 20th century, is now built with relatively expensive homes. A spectacularly beautiful area looking south toward the Pacific and the Channel Islands and having sunrise to sunset views, Santa Barbara became the winter destination for the titans of post-Civil War America. Private railroad cars clustered on the sidings at Santa Barbara. The Potter Hotel overlooking Santa Barbara's West Beach was a world renowned resort. Owners of industry visited Santa Barbara and chose Santa Barbara hillside locations for their grand estates. Others preferred the beach and built palatially there, from Sandyland Cove, Padaro Lane, the city beaches, and west to what is now Goleta. The city's prime homesites were built out with family homes by the first decades of the 20th century. The city sustained heavy damage in an earthquake on June 29, 1925, which was followed by substantial rebuilding.
The architectural image of Santa Barbara is the Mission revival style of architecture adopted by city leaders after the 1925 earthquake destroyed much of the downtown commercial district. The domestic architecture of Santa Barbara is predominantly California bungalows built in the early decades of the 20th century, with many Victorian homes adorning the "Upper East" and Spanish style homes designed by well known California architects in Santa Barbara and on estates in Montecito and Hope Ranch. The city has passed ordinances against billboards and regulates outdoor advertising, so the city is relatively free of advertising clutter.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 41.4 square miles (107.3 km²), of which, 19.0 square miles (49.2 km²) of it is land and 22.4 square miles (58.1 km²) of it (54.17%) is water. this is because the official city limit extends exactly four miles south into the ocean, and in addition a long "finger" of the city extends out to sea and again inland, in order to make Santa Barbara Airport (SBA) (adjacent to the University of California, Santa Barbara) contiguous with the city.
As of the census of 2000, there were 92,325 people*, 35,605 households, and 18,941 families residing in the city. The population density was 4,865.3 people per square mile (1,878.1/km²). There were 37,076 housing units at an average density of 1,953.8/sq mi (754.2/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 74.04% White, 1.77% African American, 1.07% Native American, 2.77% Asian, 0.14% Pacific Islander, 16.37% from other races, and 3.85% from two or more races. People of Hispanic or Latino background, of any race, were 35.02% of the population. (*This number was revised to 89,600 when it was discovered that a dormitory population outside the city was erroneously included in the 92,325 figure.)
There were 35,605 households out of which 24.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 39.8% were married couples living together, 9.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 46.8% were non-families. 32.9% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.47 and the average family size was 3.17.
In the city the population was spread out with 19.8% under the age of 18, 13.8% from 18 to 24, 32.3% from 25 to 44, 20.4% from 45 to 64, and 13.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35 years. For every 100 females there were 97.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 95.0 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $47,498, and the median income for a family was $57,880. Males had a median income of $37,116 versus $31,911 for females. The per capita income for the city was $26,466. About 7.7% of families and 13.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 16.8% of those under age 18 and 7.4% of those age 65 or over. If one compares the per capita income to the actual cost of living, the number of people living below the poverty line is considerably higher. In June 2004, the median home price in Santa Barbara surpassed $1,000,000 for the first time. Santa Barbara has traditionally had a large homeless population, due in part to the high cost of living.
In 2006, according to the California State Department of Finance, the population of Santa Barbara (now 89,548) had been surpassed by that of Santa Maria, which had thus become the most populous city in Santa Barbara County. Santa Maria's growth can be attributed to its cost of living, Santa Barbara's limited growth policies, and more available land area for Santa Maria.
Santa Barbara has two daily newspapers: The Santa Barbara News-Press, with a circulation of about 39,000 and the Santa Barbara Daily Sound, a free daily. The News-Press was sold by the New York Times Company in 2000, and is now independently owned by Wendy P. McCaw, a local resident and outspoken environmentalist. Other local media include Santa Barbara Life, Builder/Architect Gold & Central Coast Edition; serving the tri-counties leading residential builders and architects a local trade publication, (BuilderArchitect.com). Pacific Coast Business Times, a weekly business journal covering Santa Barbara, Ventura, and San Luis Obispo Counties, Santa Barbara Independent, an arts and entertainment newsweekly, Santa Barbara's Blog, an interactive forum for debate of local sports, news and politics, Edhat Online Magazine, a hyperlocal website, Coastal Woman, a quarterly glossy magazine for local women, and Shape of Voice, a non-profit youth created publication which focuses on social justice and youth issues, as well as television stations KEYT 3, an ABC television affiliate and KPMR 38, a Univision affiliate, Santa Barbara Internet TV, and Santa Barbara Channels; 17 Community Access and 21 Arts & Education [(formerly owned by cox cable)]. Although Santa Barbara has radio stations including radio station KJEE 92.9, The Vibe:Hip Hop y Mas 103.3, 99.9 KTYD and KLITE 101.7 owned by Rincon Broadcasing, some Los Angeles radio stations can be heard, many quite faintly due to the 85-mile (137 km) distance. Santa Monica-based NPR station KCRW can be heard in Santa Barbara on 106.9.
Santa Barbara is home to a vibrant artistic community, and the Santa Barbara Museum of Art is home to a significant permanent collection. Other art venues include the University Art Museum on the UC Santa Barbara Campus, various private galleries, and a wide variety of art and photography shows. The Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History is located immediately behind the Santa Barbara Mission in a complex of charming, mission-style buildings set in a delightful park-like campus. The Museum offers outstanding indoor and outdoor exhibits and a state-of-the-art planetarium. The Santa Barbara Maritime Museum is located at 113 Harbor Way (the former Naval Reserve Center Santa Barbara) on the waterfront. The Contemporary Arts Forum, located on the top floor of Paseo Nuevo shopping mall, contains exhibits of new works in all media.
Santa Barbara boasts numerous performing art venues, including the 2000 seat Arlington Theatre, the largest indoor performance venue in Santa Barbara; the Lobero Theatre, a historic building and favorite venue for small concerts; the Granada Theater, originally built by a contractor named CM Urton in 1920, now the tallest building downtown (the theater was remodeled, and reopened in March 2008); and the Santa Barbara Bowl, a 4562 seat amphitheatre used as a concert space, nestled in a picturesque canyon northwest of Santa Barbara at the base of the Riviera.
The city is considered a haven for classical music lovers with a symphony orchestra and many non-profit classical music groups (such as CAMA). The Music Academy of the West, located in Montecito, hosts an annual music festival in the summer, drawing renowned students and professionals.
Current event listings can be found at Santa Barbara Performing Arts League.
Santa Barbara is a year-round tourist destination renowned for its fair weather, downtown beaches, and Spanish architecture. In addition to the city's cultural assets, several iconic destinations lie within the city's limits. Mission Santa Barbara, "The Queen of the Missions," is located in Santa Barbara. It was founded on December 4, 1786 on a rise about two miles (3 km) inland from the harbor, and is maintained as an active place of worship, sightseeing stop, and national historic landmark. The Santa Barbara County Courthouse, a red tiled Spanish-Moorish structure, provides a sweeping view of the downtown area from its open air tower. The Presidio of Santa Barbara, a Spanish military installation built in 1782, was central to the town's early development and remains an icon of the city's colonial roots.
Also famous is the annual Fiesta (originally called "Old Spanish Days"), which is celebrated every year in August. The Fiesta is hosted by the Native Daughters of the Golden West and the Native Sons of the Golden West in a joint committee called the Fiesta Board. Fiesta was originally started as a tourist attraction, like the Rose Bowl, to draw business into the town in the 1920s.
Flower Girls and Las Señoritas are another attraction of Fiesta, as they march and participate in both Fiesta Pequeña (the kickoff of Fiesta) and the various parades. Flower Girls is for girls under 13. They throw roses and other flowers into the crowds. Las Señoritas are their older escorts. Many Señoritas join the Native Daughters at the age of 16.
For over 40 years the Santa Barbara Arts and Crafts Show has been held on Cabrillo Blvd., east of Stearns Wharf and along the beach, attracting thousands of people to see artwork made by artists and crafts people that live in Santa Barbara county. By the rules of the show, all the works displayed must have been made by the artists and craftspeople themselves, who must sell their own goods. The show started in the early 1960s, and now has over 200 booths varying in size and style on any Sunday of the year. The show is also held on some Saturdays that are national holidays, but not during inclement weather.
In recent years, the Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF), another local non-profit, has also become a major draw bringing over 50,000 attendees during what is usually Santa Barbara's slow season in late January. SBIFF hosts a wide variety of celebrities, premieres, panels and movies from around the world and runs for 10 days.
The annual Summer Solstice Parade draws up to 100,000 people. It is a colorful themed parade put on by local residents, and follows a route along State Street for approximately one mile, ending at Alameda Park. Floats and costumes vary from the whimsical to the outrageous; parties and street events take place throughout the weekend of the parade, which is invariably the first weekend after the solstice.
Other tourist-centered attractions include:
Stearns Wharf – Adjacent to Santa Barbara Harbor, features shops, several restaurants, and the newly rebuilt Ty Warner Sea Center. Rafael Gonzalez House – Adobe residence of the alcaldé of Santa Barbara in the 1820s, and a National Historic Landmark. Moreton Bay Fig – a giant Moreton Bay Fig, 80 feet (24 m) tall, which has one of the largest total shaded areas of any tree in North America Burton Mound – on Mason Street at Burton Circle, this mound is thought to be the Chumash village of Syujton, recorded by Juan Cabrillo in 1542, and again by Fr. Crespí and Portolá in 1769. (California Historical Landmark No. 306) De la Guerra Plaza (Casa de la Guerra) – Site of the first City Hall, and still the center of the city's administration. (California Historical Landmark No. 307) Covarrubias Adobe – Built in 1817; adjacent to the Santa Barbara Historical Society Museum on Santa Barbara Street. (California Historical Landmark No. 308) Hastings Adobe – Built in 1854, partially from material recovered from the wreck of the S.S. Winfield Scott. (California Historical Landmark No. 559) Carrillo Adobe – Built in 1825 by Daniel Hill for his wife Rafaela L. Ortega y Olivera; currently at 11 E. Carrillo St. Cold Spring Tavern El Paseo Shopping Mall – The first shopping mall in California. Santa Barbara Zoo
The first Motel 6, in Santa BarbaraSanta Barbara's many tourist attractions have made the hospitality industry into a major player in the regional economy. For example, Motel 6 was started in Santa Barbara in 1962.
Santa Barbara is bisected by U.S. Route 101, a primary transportation corridor that links the city to the rest of the Central Coast region. The Santa Barbara Airport offers commercial air service. Amtrak offers rail service through the Coast Starlight and Pacific Surfliner trains at the train station on State Street. The Santa Barbara Metropolitan Transit District (MTD) provides local bus service across the city, and Greyhound bus stations are located downtown and in nearby Goleta. Electric shuttles operated by MTD ferry tourists and shoppers up and down lower State Street and to the wharf.
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