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History of Capitola, California

Mar 12, 2008
The history of Capitola, California is rich with stories and history. The city is constructed on the site the Soquel Indians dwelt upon for over 1,000 years. The Soquel were transferred to the Mission in Santa Cruz. There is virtually nothing left that bespeaks of the once thriving Indian culture of the Soquel. The area has been known for dealing with several floods over the last century and a half.

It was named as a tribute to the famed novels by E.D.E.N. Southworth by Lulu Hall Wolbach. The heroine of the book was name Capitola. Lulu was the daughter of the city's founder, Samuel A. Hall. She spent a period of time as a teacher to the Soquel before their sojourn to Santa Cruz. Samuel A. Hall leased the area in 1869 from a developer, Frederick Hihn, who had worked hard to promote the development of the area. The area looked to have a lot of potential in Hall's eyes and he struck out to make it a prosperous place. A camp was opened in 1874 on Independence Day. At first, the Halls pitched tents for guests that ran along a simple dirt path. The Santa Cruz-Watsonville Railroad assisted greatly with bringing visitors into the area.

Once the area was on its way to success, Hihn took full control. He set about dividing property into lots that were first sold in 1882 for summer dwellings. The camping area evolved into a hotel equipped with 160 rooms to accommodate guests. The hotel was essentially a vacation spa with warm baths of salt-water. When World War I was over, Hihn's daughter as his heir began to sell pieces of the estate. Hihn had passed away previously in 1913.

A speculator, Henry Allen Rispin, saw the potential of the area to become a modernized refuge from everyday life. His plans involved building a golf course, redoing the Esplanade, and building the Venetian Courts. Rispin was assaulted by financial difficulties, and after a series of foreclosures beginning in 1927 he left behind his estate at the inception of The Depression Era in 1929.

In the following decades the residents of the city worked together to make the city their own. It was the third city to be established in Santa Cruz County in 1949. It went from existing as a village to a city at that time. It is believed that the history of Capitola, California involves it being the oldest resort still in operation in the state.

The city is thought to be the inspiration for Alfred Hitchcock's famed masterpiece, "The Birds." Birds had descended upon the area in 1961 and launched an attack. The breed of birds that became aggressive is known as Sooty Shearwaters. Hitchcock frequented the area for visits and was mesmerized by the idea of birds attacking humans when he read about the incident. During the 1970's and 80's the area became host to a skateboard competition. It involved a yearly race downhill. World class skaters were attracted and participated in the event.
About the Author
Seb Frey is a Capitola, California Real Estate Broker specializing in Santa Cruz Real Estate. He is fluent in Spanish and enjoys helping people find their piece of the American Dream in Santa Cruz. You can find Seb's blog at SantaCruzHomeBroker.com/blog.
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