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Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara Travel Guide

In 1782, the Spaniards returned for good. A group led by Governor Felipe de Neve, Captain Jose Ortega, and Father Junipero Serra, permanently settled in the area in order to establish a military presidio and mission and, in the process, founded the city of Santa Barbara. In the process of the Spaniards' teaching the Native Americans to wear European clothing, to eat meat instead of their healthful diet of fruit, vegetables, nuts and fish, most the Chumash became ill and died. of European diseases. The Spaniards governed the area until 1822, when California became a Mexican territory. The United States took Santa Barbara from Mexico 24 years later, in 1846. Thus was created a melting pot of Chumash, Spanish, Mexican and North American languages and cultures.

Up until the late 1800's the serene, peaceful community of Santa Barbara was over looked by the rush of westward migrators. About that time word began to reach the east coast that there was a place in California called Santa Barbara which had attributes more valuable than gold or silver. It possessed an ideal climate, hot and cold springs, and a restful atmosphere. Many people began to converge on the little mission with a desire to recuperate from the stresses of life. Santa Barbara was touted as one of the most idyllic health spas to be found anywhere, attracting visitors from around the U.S. and beyond. Some came to relax and recharge and then left, others came and found they did not want to leave. Many of those who remained had money to invest, and the small, sleepy mission soon began showing signs of growth. Modern hotels and cultural centres were created. Presidents, kings and queens, the rich and the famous, all came from around the globe to bask in the beauty and culture that was now Santa Barbara.

In 1910, before Hollywood became the film capital of the world, Santa Barbara was the centre of the motion picture industry. The American Film Company opened the Flying A Studio there. At that time and for several years thereafter, the studio was the largest of its kind in the world. In a ten year span over 1200 movies (mostly westerns) were made. Today, many film celebrities own homes in Santa Barbara. For them it was the perfect place to escape the glare of Hollywood, while at the same time be less than two hours away from their work.

Santa Barbara's architecture springs from the roots of its historic past. Splendid old adobes with court yards named after historical figures and Mediterranean style buildings found throughout the city, were inspired by the Spanish residences of the early years. The museums and cultural centres preserve much of the town's past. The Chumash (now restored to health and re established as a native American community), Hispanic, Mexican and North American influences are very much a part of life in this peaceful sanctuary.

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