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Encyclopedia > Santa Monica
Santa Monica Pier

Santa Monica is a coastal city located in Los Angeles County, California USA, by the Pacific Ocean, south of Pacific Palisades and Brentwood, west of Westwood, Los Angeles, and north of Venice. As of the 2000 census, the city had a total population of 84,084. In the skateboard and surfing communities it is sometimes called Dogtown, which includes Venice Beach as well.

Because of its agreeable weather, Santa Monica was a famed resort town in the early 20th century. Now, the city has been subsumed into the welter of towns in the greater Los Angeles area, but is still considered a pleasant place to live. Santa Monica has experienced a tremendous economic boom since the late 1980s through the revitalization of its downtown core, significant job growth, and increased tourism.

Santa Monica is famous for its progressive politics, including local policies that favor renters, consumers, and homeless persons. Residents of the city are among the largest contributors in the nation to Democratic Party candidates. Because of its political leanings the city has been jocularly labeled The People's Republic of Santa Monica. Rent control is strictly implemented in Santa Monica and many attribute the city's homeless problem to this policy. Santa Monica is sometimes called the "Homeless Capital of the West"; satirist Harry Shearer calls it "The home of the homeless."



Main article: History of Santa Monica, California

Attractions and cultural resources

The Santa Monica Looff Hippodrome (AKA carousel) is a National Historic Landmark. It sits on the world-famous Santa Monica Pier first built in 1909. The La Monica Ballroom on the pier was once the largest ballroom in the US, and the source for many New Year's Eve national network broadcasts.

Civic Auditorium. Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, designed by Welton Becket in 1958. Home of the Oscars award ceremony from 1961-1968.

The Santa Monica Civic Auditorium was an important music venue for several decades and hosted the Academy Awards in the 1960s. McCabes Guitar Shop is still a leading acoustic performance space. The Cheetah was a famous nightclub. Bergamot Station is a city-owned art gallery compound. The city is home to the Museum of Flying, and the Santa Monica Heritage Museum.

The city has been the site of many notable births and deaths due to its hospitals, St. Johns Hospital and the Santa Monica Medical Center. The municipal cemetery in Santa Monica is Woodlawn Memorial Cemetery.

The oldest theater in the city is the 1912 Majestic, aka Mayfair Theatre, closed since the 1994 Northridge earthquake. The Aero Theater (now operated by the American Cinematheque) and Criterion Theater were built in the 1930s and still show movies. The Santa Monica Promenade alone supports more than a dozen movie screens.

Palisades Park sits on the crumbling bluffs overlooking the Pacific and is a favorite walking area to view the ocean. It features a camera obscura. For 48 years local churches and the Police Association assembled a twelve-stop, drive-through story of Christmas along the Palisades Park. The sheds were open to the street side, covered in chain link fencing. Inside were dioramas of the Holy Family made from donated store mannequins, many with inappropriately fashionable features or missing limbs thinly disguised by clothing or palm fronds. In 2001 the city decided to temporarily end the practice of allowing private groups to place displays in city parks, but in 2004 the Christmas displays returned.

Santa Monica is known for having a large population of British and Irish expatriates, which accounts for the numerous pubs in the city. Bars are as likely to show Premier League games as they are American football games.


Founded in 1929 with an enrollment of 153, Santa Monica College (SMC, informally known as Pico Tech or Harvard-by-the-Sea) now occupies 35 acres and enrolls 25,000 students annually. The 2-year college is the leading source of transfers to the University of California system. Rolling Stone magazine rated it among the top ten community colleges in the nation in 1998. Notable SMC alumni and dropouts include: James Dean, Dustin Hoffman, Rickie Lee Jones, and former Microsoft chief technology officer Nathan Myhrvold. It is the host for KCRW, an innovative and popular National Public Radio affiliate.

The Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District provides public education at the elementary and secondary levels. Santa Monica High School, informally known as Samohi, changed location several times in its early years before settling into its present campus. Until the 1980s, students from Malibu were required to bus into Santa Monica for grades 10-12. Notable alumni include: Gloria Stuart, Glenn Ford, John Ehrlichman, dancer Gene Nelson, Emilio Estevez, Charlie Sheen, Sean Penn, Rob Lowe, Robert Downey Jr., Art Alexakis, Dean Cain, Maya Rudolph, and Carson Daly. The site was used as a location for the movie Rebel Without a Cause.

Private schools in the city include the Crossroads School.


Besides the Santa Monica Freeway, the city also has a large street system. California State Highway 1 (Lincoln Boulevard/Pacific Coast Highway) passes through the city and California State Highway 2 (Santa Monica Boulevard) begins in Santa Monica. Bicycling is popular.

Big Blue Buses parked at the UCLA bus terminal on Hilgard Avenue in Los Angeles.

The City of Santa Monica runs its own bus line, the Big Blue Bus, which also serves much of the Westside and UCLA. It is generally considered to be one of the best run bus lines in California, as evidenced by the fact that it did not raise its regular fare above 25 cents until 2002. In contrast, most public bus lines in California were charging fares of a dollar or higher well before the year 2000.

A Big Blue Bus was featured prominently in the motion picture Speed.

The city is also served by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority's bus lines. It currently has no rail service but MTA is currently working on bringing light rail to Santa Monica.

The city has a general aviation airport, Santa Monica Airport. Passenger flights are available at Los Angeles International Airport to the south.

Like all Los Angeles County cities, Santa Monica is dependent upon the Port of Long Beach and the Port of Los Angeles for international cargo.


Santa Monica is located at 34°1'19" North, 118°28'53" West (34.022059, -118.481336)1.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 41.2 km˛ (15.9 mi˛). 21.4 km˛ (8.3 mi˛) of it is land. The city borders extend three-miles out to sea, and so 19.8 km˛ (7.7 mi˛) of it is water for a total area that is 48.08% water.


Santa Monica enjoys an average of 325 days of sunshine a year. Because of its location, nestled on a vast opened bay (Santa Monica Bay), morning fog and haze is a common phenomenon in the months of May, June and early July (caused by ocean temperature variations and currents). Locals have a particular terminology for this phenomenon: the "May Gray" and the well-known "June Gloom". Overcast skies are common for June mornings, but usually the strong sun burns it off by noon. Nonetheless, it will sometimes stay cloudy and cool all day during the month of June as other parts of the Los Angeles area will enjoy sunny skies and warmer temperatures. As a general rule, the temperature is from 5 to 10 Fahrenheit (3 to 5.5 Celsius) cooler than it is inland. A typical spring day (Mid-April) is sunny, pleasant and about 68F (20C). In the summer, which stretches basically from May to late October, temperatures can reach up to the mid-80's (28-30C) at the beach. The average temperature for August is 71F (21C). September is the warmest month of the year in Santa Monica, with an average of 73F (22C). It is also in September that records tend to be broken. In early September 2004, temperatures of 92F to 98F (33C to 37C) were recorded.

In early November, it is about 68F (20C). In late January, temperatures are around 63F (17C). It is winter, however, when the hot, dry winds of the Santa Anas are most common. In Mid-December 2004, temperatures soared to 84F (28C) in Santa Monica, for a few straight days, with perfectly sunny skies.

The rainy season is from late October through late March. Winter storms usually from from the northwest, and pass quickly through the LA area. The rest of the year, especially the summer months, get very little rain.

The cool breeze keep the air fresh and clean, as it almost always blows from the ocean. Therefore, the "smog" issue which characterize Los Angeles doesn't affect the Santa Monica residents. Sometimes, however, in the autumn months of September through November, the Santa Ana winds will blow from the East towards the ocean, bringing smoggy air to the beaches. Those dry, hot Santa Anas also make conditions ripe for the devastating fires that Los Angeles is known for.

Santa Monica City Hall, designed by Donald Parkinson with terrazo mosaics by Stanton MacDonald-Wright


Population has grown from 417 in 1880 to 84,084 in 2000. For population statistics by decade, see History of Santa Monica, California.

As of the census2 of 2000, there are 84,084 people, 44,497 households, and 16,775 families residing in the city. The population density is 3,930.4/km˛ (10,178.7/mi˛). There are 47,863 housing units at an average density of 2,237.3/km˛ (5,794.0/mi˛). The racial makeup of the city is 78.29% White, 3.78% African American, 0.47% Native American, 7.25% Asian, 0.10% Pacific Islander, 5.97% from other races, and 4.13% from two or more races. 13.44% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There are 44,497 households out of which 15.8% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 27.5% are married couples living together, 7.5% have a female householder with no husband present, and 62.3% are non-families. 51.2% of all households are made up of individuals and 10.6% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 1.83 and the average family size is 2.80.

In the city the population is spread out with 14.6% under the age of 18, 6.1% from 18 to 24, 40.1% from 25 to 44, 24.8% from 45 to 64, and 14.4% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 39 years. For every 100 females there are 93.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 91.3 males.

The median income for a household in the city is $50,714, and the median income for a family is $75,989. Males have a median income of $55,689 versus $42,948 for females. The per capita income for the city is $42,874. 10.4% of the population and 5.4% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 9.9% of those under the age of 18 and 10.2% of those 65 and older are living below the poverty line.

Notable persons born in Santa Monica

External links

  • City of Santa Monica (http://www.santa-monica.org/)
  • Santa Monica Mirror (http://www.smmirror.com/)
  • Santa Monica Daily Press (http://www.smdp.com/)
  • Maps and aerial photos
    • Street map from Mapquest (http://www.mapquest.com/maps/map.adp?latlongtype=decimal&latitude=34.022059&longitude=-118.481336&zoom=6)
    • Topographic map from Topozone (http://www.topozone.com/map.asp?lat=34.022059&lon=-118.481336&s=200&size=m&layer=DRG100)
    • Aerial photograph from Microsoft Terraserver (http://terraserver.microsoft.com/map.aspx?t=1&s=14&lon=-118.481336&lat=34.022059&w=750&h=500)

  Results from FactBites:
Santa Monica News - Topix (0 words)
SANTA MONICA, California.: Songwriter Ron Miller, whose tunes included pop classics "Touch Me in the Morning" and "For Once in My Life," has died.
State Sen. Sheila Kuehl (D-Santa Monica), a television star in the 1960s, has won preliminary approval of legislation that would bolster the 'postmortem right of publicity' held by the heirs of famous people to control the use of their images, voices, signatures and likenesses for commercial purposes.
Santa Monica, CA, May 29, 2007 Over the past 25 years, Scott Baio has lived a life that all red-blooded American males' would sell their big screen TV, car and soul for, a jaw-dropping roster of sexy...
Santa Monica, California - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (1946 words)
Santa Monica is a coastal city located in western Los Angeles County, California, USA, by the Pacific Ocean, south of Pacific Palisades and Brentwood, west of Westwood, Los Angeles, and north of Venice.
Santa Monica is named for Saint Monica of Hippo, the patron saint of wives and abuse victims.
Santa Monica is known for having a large population of British and Irish expatriates, which accounts for the numerous pubs in the city.
  More results at FactBites »



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