1. Travel

Santa Monica: Neighborhood Profile

A General Overview of Santa Monica, CA


Santa Monica in Los Angeles, California at the Pier

Photo: David McNew/Staff/Getty Images


Bordered By

  • Venice in the South
  • Pacific Coast Highway in the West
  • Brentwood and Pacific Palisades in the North
  • Palms in the East

Santa Monica: A Brief History

During the 1700s, the open land of Santa Monica was under Spanish rule. It was not until 1828 that Mexico--independent of Spain--divided it into three land grants: Rancho San Vicente y Santa Monica, Rancho Boca de Santa Monica and Rancho La Ballona.

In 1872, Colonel S. Baker of Rhode Island bought Rancho San Vicente y Santa Monica while his wife bought what is today known as the Pacific Palisades. A couple of years later, Nevada Senator John Percival Jones--co-founder of Santa Monica--purchased Rancho Santa Monica. He ultimately plotted the city’s layout and donated Palisades Park to Santa Monica. It was the first residential lot to be sold.

Several years later, in 1887, the City of Santa Monica was incorporated. Then, the well-known Santa Monica Pier was opened. It drew international attention and crowds to a growing Santa Monica.

During the ‘20s, like other parts of LA, Santa Monica became home to Hollywood stars and starlets like Greta Garbo and Marion Davies (and her legendary publisher boyfriend William Randolph Hearst). Other names gravitated towards Santa Monica as well like Will Rogers. He bought and built a horse ranch and polo field in Rustic Canyon attracting the likes of luminaries like Spencer Tracy and Walt Disney. The city later inherited his park in the ‘50s. Also during the ‘20s, Donald W. Douglas, Sr. founded the Douglas Aircraft Company in the neighborhood as well.

During the ‘30s, Santa Monica’s famed ‘Muscle Beach’ became a hub for the growing health and fitness rage. Speaking of fitness rages, LA’s was at its height decades later in the ‘80s when Santa Monica had already become a Mecca for visitors and residents in search of the clean, healthy beach lifestyle of Southern California lore.

In 1984, the Santa Monica Pier began undergoing a $45 million restoration project which started with the repair of its famous old carousel. In the late ‘80s, Santa Monica’s famous Third Street Promenade opened.

Santa Monica Today

The late ‘90s saw major redesigns and renovations of Santa Monica’s beachfront, Muscle Beach and Palisades Park. Just a couples of years later, the Big Blue Bus was introduced as well as a new visitor center in the Santa Monica Place mall. Santa Monica celebrated its centennial in 2009.

Today, Santa Monica continues to be a laid-back beach community within a major city, attracting both families and single people to form a community of different faces.

For many, Santa Monica continues to symbolize all of the attributes of LA’s relaxed, healthy oceanside lifestyle--still immortalized in film and TV. It is still a popular area with surfers and skaters and one of LA’s best Irish pub neighborhoods. Its famous skateboarding culture was chronicled in Dogtown and Z-Boys, the well-known documentary about the history of skateboarding.

Historical Sites and Areas of Santa Monica

  • Embassy Hotel Apartments
  • Georgian Hotel
  • Niemeyer-Strick House
  • Ocean Park Library
  • Rapp Saloon/Old Town Hall
  • Santa Monica Pier
  • Third Street Neighborhood Historic District

Transportation in Santa Monica

  • Big Blue Bus
  • City designated bicycle paths
  • Mini Blue Bus
  • Santa Monica Municipal Airport
  • Tide Shuttle

Santa Monica Restaurants and Bars

  • Boa Steakhouse
  • Border Grill
  • Capo
  • Cora’s Coffee Shop
  • The Daily Pint
  • Finn McCool’s
  • The Hideout
  • Ivy at the Shore
  • Michael’s
  • One Pico
  • Pancho’s Tacos
  • The Room
  • Sonny Mcleans
  • Zanzibar

Films and Television Shows Shot in Santa Monica

  • The Big Lebowski
  • Dogtown and Z-Boys
  • Fast Times at Ridgemont High
  • Forrest Gump
  • The Net
  • Rebel Without a Cause
  • Speed
  • Terminator II: Judgement Day
  • Valley of the Dolls
  • Win a Date With Tad Hamilton!

Local Businesses and Organizations

  • Bob’s Market
  • Heal the Bay
  • Highways
  • Jonathan Beach Club
  • Latino Resource Organization
  • The Miles Playhouse
  • The Moms Club of Santa Monica/Venice
  • The Ocean Park Organization
  • Santa Monica Conservancy
  • Santa Monica Playhouse
  • Santa Monica Public Library
  • Santa Monica Skate Park
  • Toyota of Santa Monica
  • Wild Oats Grocery Store
  • YWCA Santa Monica
  • ZJ Boarding House (surfboards)

Schools in the Santa Monica Area

  • Concord High School
  • Carlthorp School
  • Crossroads School for Arts & Sciences
  • Delphi Academy of Santa Monica
  • Edison Elementary
  • Emeritus College
  • Franklin Elementary
  • Garden of Angels School
  • Grant Elementary
  • McKinley Elementary
  • John Adams Middle School
  • John Muir Elementary
  • Lincoln Middle School
  • New Roads School
  • Olympic High School
  • Pacifica Christian High School
  • Santa Monica Catholic High School
  • Santa Monica College
  • Santa Monica High School
  • St. Anne School
  • Roosevelt Elementary
  • SMASH Alternative School
  • University of Santa Monica
  • Westside Montessori DC
  • Will Rogers Elementary

Real Estate Facts

  • Population: 87,823
  • Overall school district performance: 814 (above statewide target of 800)
  • 96% of other LA area houses are less expensive
  • House prices: $630 per square foot
  • Condo prices: $538 per square foot
  • 95% of other LA area condos are less expensive
  • Crime index (measures violent crime reported - lower number is better): 15, approximately 10% lower than the LA County average

Facts pulled from: LA Life: Santa Monica

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.