Main Beach, Laguna Beach
photo courtesy of ocbook.com
Almost from the beginning, Laguna Beach has stood
apart from the rest of Orange County. The differences
are geographic, social and political. And they
area was named Lagonas by the coastal Indians
who first lived there, and who were attracted
by two rare freshwater lagoons in the nearby canyon.
by the time the first non-Indian settlers arrived
in the 1870s, the area now known as Laguna Beach
had more than mere physical allure. Unlike most
of the rest of Orange County, it was never included
in any of the Spanish land grants.
the Timber-Culture Acts of the 1870s, anyone who
agreed to plant 10 acres of trees in the area
over 10 years and live there while they grew was
granted 160 acres to call his own. The cove-filled
coastline attracted a handful of homesteaders.
But the land was too steep and rocky for agriculture
Laguna quickly gained a reputation as a beachfront
resort. Even in the days of mule trails and stage
coaches, inlanders from such new towns as Santa
Ana and El Toro would make the daylong trek to
the quaint seashore village. They'd set up tents
and stay the weekend. Some would build summer
homes - hasty clapboard cottages with few embellishments,
but spectacular views. A few still stand.
1888, Laguna Beach was the permanent home to about
15 families, but come summer, the beaches would
be lined with rows of canvas tents. Today, a similar
influx arrive. Civic officials estimate the city
of 24,000 attracts 40,000 visitors daily during
community's long-standing status as one of the
county's biggest art colonies can be traced back
to shortly after the turn of the century, when
a San Francisco watercolorist named Norman St.
Clair arrived by stage and started painting the
in San Francisco, St. Clair became a one-man visitor's
information bureau, persuading fellow artists
to follow his trail. Within 10 years, more than
30 artists had settled in the coastal village.
In 1918, they created the Laguna Beach Art Association,
a body that exists today.
the early 1930s, the artists created two of its
most popular and enduring annual events: the Festival
of Arts and the Pageant of the Masters. Over the
years, the city's reputation as a creative getaway
has attracted such notables as Bette Davis, John
Steinbeck, Victor Mature, Erle Stanley Gardner,
Tennessee Williams and Timothy Leary.
city now claims more than 75 art galleries. Other
than its own natural beauty - which attracts tourists
and gives artist something to paint, it has no
Bowl - 650 Laguna Canyon Road
The bowl is the home of the Festival of the Arts
and the Pageant of the Masters. The festival,
when first held in 1932, had no permanent location.
The first "living pictures," now called
the Pageant of the Masters, were presented in
1933. In 1941, the Irvine Co. deeded the land
for the bowl to the city of Laguna Beach.
Art Museum - 307 Cliff Drive
Founded by the Laguna Beach Art Association in
1929, the museum is the oldest institution of
its kind in Orange County. It houses regional
contemporary art and historical art.
Laguna Art Museum
photo courtesy of ocbook.com