Holy Smokes, did I love walking the streets of Santa Barbara! The Spanish architecture, ginormous palms, and wealth of succulents, all framed by the Santa Ynez Mountains and the sea are enough to make anyone swoon, really. Where did all this Spanish flair come from, you ask? Well, I’ll tell ya!
We have proof that this beautiful spot along the coast has been inhabited for the last 13,000 years. The earliest known tribe to call it home are known as the Chumash people. As you sadly might have guessed, once the European settlers showed up, life changed drastically.
In the late 1700s, Spanish missionaries were the first to set up camp. They brought disease and Christianity to the natives–who ended up doing most of the hard labor. Sounds like a great deal…
Less than a decade later, an earthquake followed by a tsunami wiped out the entire town. The missionaries used this as an opportunity to rebuild everything bigger and better than before.
After the Mexican War of Independence, Mexico laid claim to the area. This period was short lived, and just a few years later in the Mexican American War, The United States took over through the Treaty of Hidalgo.
The population exploded as the gold rush set a fire in everyone’s bellies. Then, a new gold was found: oil. Santa Barbara was the first to adopt the practices of drilling offshore.
Soon after, another earthquake shook the bones of the city and opportunity was found yet again to build bigger and better. A movement to unify and reform the city’s architecture was underway. And you guessed it, Spanish Colonial style spread across the area.
Such a complicated history to understand how these beautiful buildings found their way to the shores of the Pacific Ocean.
Follow along with me as I wind my way through the Californian hills to Solvang.
Stay tuned for the a quick jaunt around another American city with European roots.