Santa Monica is a beachfront city in western Los Angeles County, California, United States. The city is named after the Christian saint, Monica. Situated on Santa Monica Bay, it is bordered on three sides by the city of Los Angeles – Pacific Palisades to the north, Brentwood on the northeast, West Los Angeles and Mar Vista on the east, and Venice on the southeast. Santa Monica is home to many Hollywood celebrities and executives and is a mixture of affluent single-family neighborhoods, renters, surfers, professionals, and students. The Census Bureau 2010 population for Santa Monica is 89,736.
Partly because of its agreeable climate, Santa Monica had become a famed resort town by the early 20th century. The city has experienced a boom since the late 1980s through the revitalization of its downtown core and significant job growth and increased tourism.
Santa Monica was long inhabited by the Tongva people. Santa Monica was called Kecheek in the Tongva language. The first non-indigenous group to set foot in the area was the party of explorer Gaspar de Portolà, who camped near the present day intersection of Barrington and Ohio Avenues on August 3, 1769. There are two different versions of the naming of the city. One says that it was named in honor of the feast day of Saint Monica (mother of Saint Augustine), but her feast day is actually May 4. Another version says that it was named by Father Juan Crespí on account of a pair of springs, the Kuruvungna Springs (Serra Springs), that were reminiscent of the tears that Saint Monica shed over her son's early impiety.
In the 1870s the Los Angeles and Independence Railroad, connected Santa Monica with Los Angeles, and a wharf out into the bay. The first town hall was a modest 1873 brick building, later a beer hall, and now part of the Santa Monica Hostel. It is Santa Monica's oldest extant structure. By 1885, the town's first hotel, the Santa Monica Hotel.
Amusement piers became enormously popular in the first decades of the 20th century and the extensive Pacific Electric Railroad brought people to the city's beaches from across the Greater Los Angeles Area.
Around the start of the 20th century, a growing population of Asian Americans lived in or near Santa Monica and Venice. A Japanese fishing village was located near the Long Wharf while small numbers of Chinese lived or worked in both Santa Monica and Venice. The two ethnic minorities were often viewed differently by White Americans who were often well-disposed towards the Japanese but condescending towards the Chinese. The Japanese village fishermen were an integral economic part of the Santa Monica Bay community.
The Great Depression hit Santa Monica deeply. One report gives citywide employment in 1933 of just 1,000. Hotels and office building owners went bankrupt. In the 1930s, corruption infected Santa Monica (along with neighboring Los Angeles).The federal Works Project Administration helped build several buildings in the city, most notably City Hall. The main Post Office and Barnum Hall (Santa Monica High School auditorium) were also among several other WPA projects.
Douglas's business grew astronomically with the onset of World War II, employing as many as 44,000 people in 1943. To defend against air attack set designers from the Warner Brothers Studios prepared elaborate camouflage that disguised the factory and airfield. The RAND Corporation began as a project of the Douglas Company in 1945, and spun off into an independent think tank on May 14, 1948. RAND eventually acquired a 15 acre (61,000 m²) campus centrally located between the Civic Center and the pier entrance.
The completion of the Santa Monica Freeway in 1966 brought the promise of new prosperity, though at the cost of decimating the Pico neighborhood that had been a leading African American enclave on the Westside.