After visiting Atlantic City, N.J., in 1901, land developer Philip Stanton had a dream: He envisioned his swamp property in Orange County as a kind of Atlantic City West. However, the next year Pacific Railroad owner Henry Huntington acquired control of Stanton's land and named it after himself, calling it Huntington Beach.
In 1963 the Christiana Corp. created a community from part of that marshland. Situated at the western edge of Huntington Beach, this affluent, nautical colony, Huntington Harbour, brings Stanton's dream to life.
Huntington Harbour consists of five tiny islands and the "mainland," the latter being the site of a bewildering variety of housing developments. When the homes and condominiums were built in the '60s, prices started around $60,000. Now finding one at $400,000 is a bargain. All the homes are surrounded by channels and waterways, similar to Venice, but with much more elan and modern architecture.
Each island is accessible by crossing its own quaint bridge. The first island built was Admiralty, then Gilbert, Davenport, Humboldt and the newest, Trinidad. Special features of each island include beaches and parks, making this an ideal place to raise families. Shopping is no problem, with Peter's Landing Shopping Center and the Harbour Mall both nearby. Seafood enthusiasts will feel quite comfortable here; their biggest problem will be which restaurant to choose.
The 23-year-old Huntington Harbour Yacht Club serves as a liaison center and focal point for community activities and fund-raisers. Harold Felix, the club's commodore, can count among his proudest moments serving as the facilitator for the 1984 Olympic sailboard trials, which were held in Long Beach.
The biggest fund-raising event in Huntington Harbour, benefiting the Huntington Harbour Philharmonic Society of Orange County, is the Boat Parade. Held the second weekend in December, the event inspires all the islanders to decorate their boats and compete for prizes. The Parade of Lights takes place two days into the 10-day event. Residents decorate their homes and boats escort tourists through the waterways and channels to see the harbor lights.
Last year a study done by the Water Quality Control Board and the county revealed that Huntington Harbour contained some of the highest levels of contaminants in the state. The U.S. Navy and private oil developers were discharging such toxic wastes as DDT and PCBs into the water. An ad hoc committee was formed to teach waterfront owners and boat operators how to reduce water pollution.
During the late '60s plans were on the developing board for a Pacific Coast Freeway, which would have solved Huntington Harbour's lack of easy access to a freeway. The state, however, ultimately disapproved the project.
NEIGHBORHOOD PROFILE: HUNTINGTON HARBOUR
Population: (1987 est.): 8,385
1980-88 change: +9%
Median age: 42.1
By sex and age:
Median age: 42.8 years
FEMALES Median age: 41.5 years
Racial/ethnic mix: White (non-Hispanic), 90%; Hispanic, less than 1%; Black, 4%; Other, 6%
Per capita :$42,233
Median Household: 98,715
Average Household: 107,491
Less than $25,000: 10%
More than $75,000: 59%
Source: Natioanl Planning Data Corp.