Happy sesquicentennial, Santa Cruz! Skipped your high-school Latin class? That means “Happy 150th anniversary, Santa Cruz.” Here are a few fun details about the city and its big year, which is being celebrated this month. Oh, and check out this excellent timeline of the city’s history.
Photo Courtesy of Visit Santa Cruz County Beach Boardwalk
Photo Courtesy of Visit Santa Cruz County by Skip Kuebel
1. Although Santa-Cruz-the-city-in-California is absolutely one of a kind, Santa-Cruz-the-name isn’t exactly unique, there being nearly 150 places out there in the world called, at least in part, Santa Cruz. Hmm…nearly 150? There’s a nice coincidence.
2. The Spanish were the first Europeans to settle here, back in 1791—they, of course, built the Mission Santa Cruz. However, the big anniversary commemorates the incorporation of Santa Cruz as a U.S. city, which didn’t happen till 1866.
3. One of the biggest and earliest industries in town, apart from redwood logging, was the production of blasting powder, which was first used in gold mining, while the Civil War was blocking transportation of gunpowder from back east, and later in naval artillery.
4. Despite that history—or maybe because of it—Santa Cruz has long been a center for political activism, and declared itself a Nuclear-Free Zone in 1998.
5. Official anniversary events include a celebration of the Municipal Wharf and trolley tours of the city’s recycling center, its wastewater treatment facility, and its affordable housing complexes—this is Santa Cruz, after all, and we mean that the best possible way.
6. The festivities culminate in an all-day party on Main Beach, with fireworks after the sun goes down—one of the better uses for gunpowder that we can think of!
Photo Courtesy of Visit Santa Cruz County by Paul Schraub