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History


History Of The Canyon
Santa Monica and Rustic canyon are two very magical places. Christopher Isherwood who lived in various locations in the canyon described it in an article, 'The Shore,' written for Harper’s Bazaar in 1952. Santa Monica Canyon – known simply as "The Canyon" to its dwellers – lies just north of the city of Santa Monica. It is a shallow flat-bottomed little valley, crowded with cottages of self-consciously rustic design, where cranky, kindly people live and tolerate each other’s mild and often charming eccentricities. The Canyon is our western Greenwich village, overrun now by various types of outsiders, but still maintaining an atmosphere of Bohemianism and unpretentious artiness. The Canyon, including both Santa Monica and Rustic canyon, stretches from Mulholland Drive in the north down through Will Rogers State Park on the west to the Riviera Country Club on the East. The southern border is defined by Mesa Road, but the spirit of The Canyon ends no sooner than the Pacific Ocean. Originally home to the Gabrieleno Indians, The Canyon was a safe and fertile valley.The Canyon had been under both Spanish and Mexican control before Alta California was ceded to the United States in 1847.




It was under the Mexican government that the historic land grants were issued to Francisco Marquez and Ysidro Reyes on June 14, 1834. They were given land rights to "the place called Santa Monica," the 6,656 acre Rancho Boca de Santa Monica. Francisco built his first home on what is today San Lorenzo Street; and Reyes built his ranch house near where Chautauqua and Sunset intersect today. Despite political changes and the challenges of Mother Nature, the beauty and peace of The Canyon began to attract near-by Angelenos. A small grocery store sold fresh produce and items from the local Rancheros and small tents dotted the mouth of The Canyon for picnicking and camping. By 1872 a hotel opened near the waterfront advertising "Come and enjoy yourself. A week at the beach will add ten years to your life." Given the growing popularity of The Canyon, unclaimed land was to be sold at public auction. Advertisements for the July 15, 1875, auction read: On Wednesday afternoon at one o’clock we will sell at public outcry to the highest bidder, the Pacific Ocean, draped with a sky of scarlet gold. By December of 1875, a railroad had been built to ShooFly Landing where Colorado Street reaches the beach today. The Canyon now became accessible to hundreds of people. Traveling characters enjoyed days of croquet, horseback riding, and, of course, bathing. Evening entertainment, lasting into the early hours of morning, was marked by music and dancing. One such traveler was Loius Salvator, the Archduke of Austria, who wrote about The Canyon in 1867, No more economical and happier life can be imagined… than this life given over to picnicking under the trees and to enjoy the invigorating sea breeze, surrounded by congenial acquaintances.