The Santa Barbara County Courthouse (above), which , along with its grounds, takes up the entire 1100 block of Anacapa Street in downtown Santa Barbara, is a Spanish-Moorish structure with historic murals and elaborate tile work. Built after the devastating 1925 earthquake for $1.5 million (at least half of which was drawn from county taxes, including those on oil wells), it stood as an early symbol of the city's determination to rebuild in a style consistent with its Spanish heritage.
The success of that effort is apparent from the 85-foot-high observation deck of the courthouse's clock tower, El Mirador . The prominence of red-tile roofs, arched facades and ornate grillwork throughout the downtown area reflect more than 60 years of guidance by city committees, advisory boards and vocal townspeople. Today, the County of Santa Barbara is the only one in California to have its own architectural board of review, and the city that began as a fort--between two Chumash Indian villages, in 1782--is the most architecturally homogeneous of its size in the state. Ninety-two miles from Los Angeles, Santa Barbara sits on a stretch of the coast that bends to the east between Point Conception and Carpinteria. It lies between the 4,000-foot-high Santa Ynez Mountains and the Santa Barbara Channel. The population of the city is 79,600, an increase of 5,200 since 1980; nearly 20 % of the residents are aged 65 or older. The median family income is $30,000. Close to 40 % of the personal income is from non-wage sources such as pensions, dividends, interest and property rental. Temperatures average 60 year-round; the average maximum is 71 , and the average minimum is 50 . On the 319-mile stretch of California's U.S. 101 between Salinas and Los Angeles, there are only four stoplights, all located in Santa Barbara. Drivers on the cross streets wait as long as four minutes for the lights to turn green. Each day an average of 13,000 people visit Santa Barbara; about 7,500 stay overnight. There are more than 300 restaurants, 60 art galleries and 65 bookstores in the Santa Barbara area. Hola! Amigos (formerly Espana), one of the city's busiest Mexican restaurants, serves an estimated 1,700 margaritas a day. This figure doubles on the weekend of the Old Spanish Days Fiesta in August. La Tolteca, Santa Barbara's only tortilla factory, produces 169,920 corn tortillas per day, using 6,000 pounds of white corn. Each of the two silos behind the factory holds 40,000 pounds of corn. There are 24 wineries and 10,000 acres of vineyards in Santa Barbara County. Mission Santa Barbara, founded in 1786, was 10th in the chain of 21 missions established by the Franciscans and the only one that has operated continuously for 200 years under their care. The church--the facade of which is built of local sandstone--is the only California mission with twin bell towers. About 4,000 American Indians are buried in the mission's cemetery. Stearns Wharf, built in 1872, is reputedly California's oldest open-ocean pier. In 1985, 9.5 million pounds of sea urchin roe were harvested in the Santa Barbara Channel and exported to Japan. The Moreton Bay fig tree, Ficus macrophylla , at Chapala and Montecito streets is the largest of its kind in the United States. Planted as a seedling in 1877, the tree now has a trunk circumference of 38 feet, and its crown spread reaches 165 feet. Celebrities living in the Santa Barbara area at least part of the year include Karl Malden, Eva Marie Saint, Steve Martin, Robert Mitchum, Jimmy Connors, Robert Preston, Julia Child, Jane Russell, Burl Ives and Jonathan Winters. The world's first offshore oil drilling began in Summerland (about six miles east of Santa Barbara) in 1895. Today, 81 % of the oil production in federal waters off the coast of California comes from 12 platforms in the Santa Barbara Channel. Daily production from those platforms totals 69,000 barrels. Produced by Linden Gross. Research and text by Mary Allen Daily. Demographics reflect currently available figures.