West Side

Discover Santa Barbara’s West Side

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The earliest historical reference to the Westside came in 1793 when Captain George Vancouver, a British explorer-scientist who was circumnavigating the globe, anchored the Discovery off West Beach and received permission for his sea cook to chop stove wood from the Mesa oak groves, and refill his water tanks from a seep at the base of the Mesa bluffs near Pershing Park.

During the 1880s Santa Barbara enjoyed nationwide fame as a fashionable health resort. It was still a small town of under 3,500 population, but it was totally without medical facilities. To alter this situation, in the spring of 1888 a group of 50 women led by Mary A. Ashley of Montecito (Ashley Road is named for her) conducted a vigorous fundraising campaign to build a “cottage-style hospital” with each department housed in a separate bungalow. Unable to raise the necessary $6,000 for the project they compromised on a single three-story redwood facility which retained the cozy-sounding name of “Cottage Hospital.”

While Cottage Hospital and its surrounding laboratories, rest homes, professional buildings, clinics and other medically-oriented

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 satellites may comprise the most important economic segment of the Westside by far the most glamorous phase of the Westside’s varied history took place between 1910 and 1921 when Santa Barbara found itself to be a movie-making center. Western thrillers were filmed in and around Santa Barbara as early as 1910 by Bronco Billy Anderson. Then the American Film Company arrived to purchase an ostrich farm at State and lslay Streets which they converted into a movie lot In 1913 Construction began on what was the largest movie studio in the world, in the block bounded by Mission, State, Padre and Chapala. During the next eight years more than 1,200 major films were made there by up to 14 production companies using the “Flying A” facilities simultaneously. At the time, the Flying “A” Studios was the largest move producer in the world. It was not until a fire burned The Flying “A” Studio down that paved the road for Hollywood to became the Movie Capital of California.

The Westside also boasted a polo field to rival those in Montecito and Carpinteria, located on the level ground bounded by San Andres, Figueroa, Gillespie and Victoria Streets. The Santa Barbara Polo Club, headed by Olympic polo champion Elmer Boeseke, sponsored many big-name polo matches on the long-vanished Westside field.

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