27 July, 2009

Summer Memories from Laguna Beach, California-That's My World

When you talk about the history of the Laguna Beach area, the Hotel Laguna is first and foremost in any discussion. Join me on my little lunch excursion to one of my favorite beach towns in Southern California and where I spent a lot of my youth.

Hotel Laguna was the first hotel in Laguna Beach and the first substantial business building. It remains today the most known structure. It is picturesque, romantic and has quite an intriguing past. It has given over 100 years of almost continuous service.

The original structure burned to the ground 60 days after opening and was rebuilt in 1888. The hotel did well providing rooms for the many visitors who streamed into California during the travel boom. Unfortunately, a depression came about in 1896 and the hotel was sold twice before it began to make a profit again.A Mr. Yoch now owned the hotel and, after purchasing the Arch Beach Hotel which was located south of the Hotel Laguna, moved the two hotels together at the present site, Laguna Avenue and Coast Highway. He called this building the "New Hotel Laguna." It proved highly successful and was visited by many dignitaries, including Madam Modjeska (the canyon was named after her) and James Irvine, who was said to be the life of the party circa 1900.

In 1928 the hotel was demolished on speculation that its bat and hoard construction was considered a fire hazard. Work started on a more modern establishment, which was dedicated in 1930. This is the hotel we know today, painted white with side Spanish arches in relief and featuring a bell tower (it never held a bell!).At one time there was a huge neon sign on the top of the hotel proclaiming "Hotel Laguna" to all those traveling north and south on the Coast Highway. It was a beacon to all but finally gave way to a 1966 ordinance law.

In 1985, the hotel was purchased by Mr. Claes Andersen who refurbished the interior and exterior of this "Grand Old Lady" and created an award-winning establishment with a European flair.People feel emotional about Hotel Laguna, probably because years of experiences and memories pervade its walls. Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall are said to have visited and these days it is used as a hide-away by many dignitaries and movie industry people.Of the thousands of visitors that check in each year, few will know its historical significance but will simply enjoy the relaxation and escape provided by the Hotel Laguna.

What better way to cruise the coast than in a 1962 red CORVETTE! Look at those classic lines.
View from Hotel La Casa del Camino . Hotel La Casa del Camino is located a little ways down Pacific Coast Highway from the Hotel Laguna and Main Beach which are considered the main part of town. Entrance to the Hotel La Casa del Camino. A charming place with a very interesting history (do click on the link above to learn more). We ate at the Hotel's "The Rooftop" restaurant where the views of the Pacific are breathtaking.
This is Mrs. H, my deceased best friend's mother who has designated me as her adopted daughter for some 36 years now (i can't be that old). We stayed with her and Mr. H at their lovely home in Villa Park during our recent visit to Southern California. Her favorite beach is Laguna Beach, so we planned a lunch and walk about town one of the days we visited. Mr. Joe, my hubby taking in the warm California sun and gazing out at the fab ocean views from our rooftop luncheon spot.
A veggie burger...yummy food.
View looking west.

View looking south and west.
View looking up the coastline toward Corona del Mar and beyond.


The community of Laguna Beach is the second oldest city in Southern Orange County -- only San Juan Capistrano is older—and it exists for one simple reason. The area where Laguna is situated was considered to be so worthless that none of the large ranchos surrounding it cared to claim it during the land grab which ensued after California was wrested away from Mexico.
Settlers arriving after the Civil War found scarce amounts of land available for homesteading, and one such tract, known then simply as "the public lands" was the coastal strip from Laguna Canyon to Three Arch Bay. One family, the Thurstons, claimed the land in Aliso Canyon and during the 1870s built a house about a mile from the beach. Soon a small community, named Arch Beach, had been started just north of there at the mouth of Bluebird Canyon. By the early 1880s most of the land around its small Post Office and general store had been subdivided. At about the time that Orange County separated from Los Angeles County and became independent in 1889, the little community was caught in an economic downturn and failed.

When the economy renewed itself, the decision was made to relocate the town to the mouth of Laguna Canyon. This was possible because a dispute with the Irvine ranch over the public right to traverse Laguna Canyon had been resolved in the courts, allowing an additional means of access to the coast.

By 1900 Laguna Beach was occupied by five families of homesteaders struggling to farm land not well-suited to sustain them. They soon found an additional source of income by renting sections of the beaches to farmers from Tustin, Santa Ana, Fullerton, Riverside, and other inland communities who were eager to escape the summer heat. Thus began the tourist industry which is still a mainstay of the local economy.

In the early 1920s the area was discovered by a group of landscape painters who laid the foundation of the art community which is still thriving to this day. Subsequently, various groups have "discovered" Laguna Beach and added incrementally to the town's diversity. Show business people from Hollywood, retirees, gays, hippies, yuppies, and most lately the very-well-to-do have made Laguna Beach their home and added to the local culture.
The region was originally known to the Spanish as "La Cañada de Las Lagunas" which means "The Canyon of the Small Lakes", in reference to two lakes found near the head of Laguna Canyon. However, in confusion with the word "Lagoon", Laguna Beach was nearly misnamed "Lagoona" by the State of California. While it was still an unincorporated community, the Postmaster, Nicholas Isch, journeyed to Sacramento to rectify the mistake, and the original Spanish spelling was retained.

Laguna Beach was incorporated as a General Law City in 1927 and has experienced a slow but steady population growth since that time.

Be sure to stop by our wonderful That's My World meme. We had over 100 participants last week. I personally enjoy visiting other blogs from around the world. Enjoy.

50 comments:

Daryl said...

What a beautiful travelog ... makes me want to head out there right now ... and that veggie burger looks yum

MedaM said...

I really enjoyed reading this interesting history and looking wonderful photos that you posted. Your photos are special; they are spectacular as always.

Frank said...

My memories are of a small beach trailer in the cove on the sand surrounded by wooden decks and glass wind screen. Reached by steep dirt road. Eating frozen bananas covered in chocolate and nuts. The old man greeter who waved as you came in from LA. Lots of artists, music and surfers. And going to the mission chapel at San Juan Capistrano with my aunt and uncle for Sunday services. Thank you for such a great tour of Laguna and reviving such wonderful memories. What a cool place.

Reader Wil said...

Thanks for the grand tour in your world, so different from the Dutch environment. It's so wonderful to see the world in a few minutes!

Sylvia K said...

A lovely, fun trip, interesting post and gorgeous photos! Just doesn't get any better than that. And a delicious veggie burger to top it all off-- hmmmmm! Marvelous as always! Thanks for taking us along!

James said...

Wonderful post. I just love OC history. My wife is 5th generation Orange County native. I bet she will love this post too.

Indrani said...

Driving around in that RED CORVETTE... very dreamy. Lovely post.

Dina said...

Ah, so it means small lakes.
Well, I'm having water envy this hot dry summer, reading all these great posts about bodies of water.
Thanks for the story of Laguna Beach.

Carver said...

Great post. I feel like you took me on a tour and I loved it!

marcia@joyismygoal said...

Wow just wonderful- overview and up close and personal. What a lovely place to live or visit - i like the lady ordering lunch

Leslie: said...

I loved Laguna Beach when I was there a few years ago. Your photos are phenomenal...makes me long to return! Love that 'Vet!!

Jane said...

You have some great pictures too, thanks for dropping by my blog btw-much appreciate it. That burger looks very apertising[sic].

Luiz Ramos said...

Beautiful Laguna Beach report.
Lovely shots and history.
Luiz Ramos
PS.
The event on my post was about environmental education that includes Indigenous Rights.

ewok1993 said...

The name alone, Laguna Beach, connotes otherworldly sights and pleasures to be had. I want to be there :)

once in a blue moon... said...

you do travel well!

Ebie said...

Hi Erin, these are beautiful views and beautiful houses too. Very sweet to be an "adopted" daughter. We went to the Crystal Cove last Saturday, and the weather was overcast.

Janet said...

Erin,
Thanks for the history lesson; Laguna Beach is one of my favorite CA destinations. Why not? It has great shopping, great food and a lovely beach to walk on or sit on a bench and read a book in the sunshine.

Janet @ Housepeepers

Babooshka said...

This is like reading a mini novel. Beautifully written journey with punchy images to punctuate words at just the right time.

Marja said...

What a beautiful hotel and amazing how you probably captured the whole history of the area With all that spanish and the style it looks a bit mediterrannee

This Is My Blog - fishing guy said...

Erin: Neat captures from California, you certainly do get around.

Janie said...

Interesting history of Laguna Beach, and great landscape views. I like the Spanish architecture of the "new" hotel.

Elisabeth's bright side said...

That was a great tour on Laguna Beach. I love those old houses designed, constructed and built with proud craftsmanship.

Irene Toh said...

That's such a historical tour of Laguna Beach.Thanks for great pics and storytelling.

Gaelyn said...

Erin, I feel as though I was there. You really know your Laguan stuff. Am thinking about how much you must miss CA.

Norma said...

Wow those are beautiful views and colors! I've only been there once and it was while biking down Hwy 101 with our youth group. 11 days of biking. We only passed thru your beautiful town but it was a lovely memory.

alicesg said...

Wow nice trip for you in your today's post. Love the beautiful red convertible. The scenery is so gorgeous and I wish I was there too just enjoying the view.

Marites said...

interesting history and I really like the soft touch on the photos. It kinda conveys some sentimentality aura. the veggie burger looks yummy!

My world is up too.

mountain.mama said...

That was a great post, but by far my favorite shots were of the Red Corvette! Wonderful.

Arija said...

Certainly a memorable summer with great sceney, friends and food. Lucky you!

BPOTW said...

What a thorough tour! Thanks!

magiceye said...

that was such a wonderful post! thank you for sharing..

Wolynski said...

You certainly capture the essence of Southern California beautifully - stunning shots.

foto CHIP *Birgitta* said...

I like your shots - beautiful - both the scenery and the car :)
Thanks for visiting!

Tom Atkins said...

I enjoy personal travelogues so much, and this one was delightful. I've been to a fair number of places in California, but you highlighted places I have never been, and set off a yearning for another road trip!

Jenn Jilks said...

Beautiful shots- great history! Thanks for visiting My Muskoka !

Abraham Lincoln said...

Thanks for visiting my blogs. And thanks too for leaving comments.

I do like your selection of photos for this post. It was a grand tour indeed.

Pam said...

You photos are all so wonderful. I enjoy seeing the beautiful west coast, its so different from here on the east coast.
What a delightful blast from your pasted. Thanks for sharing it.

ArneA said...

Thanks for visiting my world.
Interesting tour
Really enjoyable

Annie said...

yes. amazing. Thanks for the history ...and the photos! Wonderful!

Annie said...

Meant to say, thanks for your visit to my world...I also love quilts and quilting!

Denise said...

Wonderful Erin, an interesting read and more beautiful photographs.

uncleawang said...

Wow!!!I love reading your blog & you have a beautiful set of photos,all of them is great & nicely captured:)
Once again beautiful travelog,thanks for sharing.

Gattina said...

I wished I would see this wonderful landscape and place life !

Barb said...

Ahhhh - lucky you! A visit to Laguna and the CA surf. I remember running the path right along the ocean and up the cliffs while I was there - many, many years ago. Thanks for bringing back a fond memory with your photos.

Paz said...

Wonderful world. I'd love to try that veggie burger while I enjoy the view there. ;-)

Paz

Patty Reiser said...

Stopping by for Sky Watch Friday and I was drawn to your photographs and story about Hotel Laguna. I used to live in Orange County. Now I live in the desert. I am missing the beach life more and more these days. Perhaps its telling me I should move back. Who knows.
Wishing you a scent-stional day!
Patty

Baron's Life said...

Without sounding pretentious I know exactly where these locations are as LAguna Beach is my favorite spot in the WORLD...and I often visit..just for the shear pleasure of walking and looking at the motorcycles, cars, food, people and all. thank you so much forr sharing these with us.

Tanya said...

Gorgeous photos Erin!

Kirigalpoththa said...

Beautiful place!

Love that red car too :)

Darius Cartmell said...

Ahh..this hotel is one of the most popular hotels, due in no small part, to its structure and elegance. This picturesque, romantic hotel has a quite intriguing past. And even though only a few among the thousands of visitors who check in each year know the historical significance of this hotel, they always enjoy the relaxing, and the escape-from-the-real-world atmosphere that this hotel provides.

Darius Cartmell