The Beginnings of a Resort Town

House tents near Santa Monica Beach, 1890. Source: Los Angeles Public Library

House tents near Santa Monica Beach, 1890. Source: Los Angeles Public Library

In the 1860s, Dr. A.B. Hayward and his family camped in the mouth of Santa Monica Canyon to avoid the dust and heat of summer in Los Angeles. Other families soon followed their example, transforming the area surrounding Santa Monica into a popular summer destination. To cater to tourists, local residents opened a small grocery store, a huge sleeping tent, and a small general store. Santa Monica soon developed as an active resort community with piers, hotels, summer cottages, and services catering to a growing number of visitors. The resort’s hub was on the bluffs in present-day downtown Santa Monica.