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History Summaries
California History

Santa Cruz, CA Beach
Old Photos

by Vaughn Aubuchon

The Sea Beach Hotel, Casino, Pleasure Pier,
and Natatorium (indoor swimming pool - plunge).

Here are a few old post card photos of historic Santa Cruz, CA beach structures, from 100 years ago.

1. Casino

2. Sea Beach Hotel -
GIANT Original Photo (2.6M)

3. Neptune's Natatorium

4. Cottage City

5. Pleasure Pier

6. Summary Of Wharves

Music: "Calliope Rag"
(Steam Calliope version - midi)

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1. The Casino

First Santa Cruz Casino
1904 - The first Santa Cruz Casino
The end came soon. It lasted just 22 months, before burning down.

Santa Cruz Beach 1906
1906 - Cowell's Wharf, the Railroad Wharf, and the Pleasure Pier
Cowell's Wharf was brought down by a storm in 1907, one year later.
The casino had recently burned down on June 22, 1906.


New Casino in 1908
1908 - Two years later, the new Santa Cruz Casino had been rebuilt.
The first casino lasted 22 months, and burned down on June 22, 1906.
The new casino was opened on June 22, 1907, exactly 1 year later.

Notice the Santa Cruz Sea Beach Hotel on the far left on "Beach Hill",
which looked like
this (on page)

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Santa Cruz Casino and Natatorium

1910? - The Santa Cruz Casino and Natatorium - #55
As viewed from the Pleasure Pier - Notice the parasols.
Where did that Roman aqueduct (colonnade) come from (year built)?
It is not visible in the 1908 photo above,
nor in the other photographs below.

From Folding Post Card, Santa Cruz, Cal.
Santa Cruz Sea Beach Hotel and Casino

The Sea Beach Hotel and the Casino - #59
The intersection of Main St. and Beach St., viewed from the beach.

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2. The Sea Beach Hotel

NEW - Giant Original Photo of Sea Beach Hotel (2.6Megabytes) Many thanks to Peter Nurkse.

Sea Beach Hotel, Santa Cruz, CA

The Sea Beach Hotel on Main Street - #56
The intersection of Main St. and Beach St., viewed from the beach.
The original 1875 Douglas House can be seen at the top of the hill, and in many old photos,
such as
here and here.
In 1890, the expanded Douglas House became the Sea Beach Hotel. It burned to the ground on June 12, 1912.
The current occupant of the property is the
Casablanca Hotel.

From Folding Post Card, Santa Cruz, Cal.
Sea Beach Hotel, Santa Cruz, CA
The same photo as below, with 3 children painted in.
The hotel is described as having a "red roof", so I am not so sure about the original depiction of this scene below.

From Detroit Photographic Co. Publishers

Sea Beach Hotel, Santa Cruz, CA 1910
1910 - Sea Beach Hotel, showing 2 sets of trolley tracks on Beach St. - #57
Main Street and Beach Street intersection viewed from the Beach Casino.
Try to imagine the Steamship wharf shooting right down Main Street, from 1863 to 1882,
where there was only the Douglas House at the top of the hill from 1875 to 1890.

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3. The Natatorium

Santa Cruz Natatorium and Pleasure Pier

Pre-Colonnade (1910-?) - The Natatorium viewed
from the Pleasure Pier at high tide - #53

Previously called the "Electric Pier", since it had been illuminated with electricity.
Sea water was pumped into the swimming pool from this pier, where it was heated.

There is a heck of a lot more beach there now,
ever since the construction of the breakwater for the Santa Cruz Yacht Harbor in 1964.

Natatorium Santa Cruz, CA
As viewed from the Pleasure Pier at low tide - #58
There is a heck of a lot more sand there now due to the jetty.

Santa Cruz Natatorium 1910
1910 - (postmarked July 13, 1910)
The Interior of the Santa Cruz Natatorium - #54
There were 2 separate pools - one for the adults and one for the kids (Thanks, Ginger).
Both pools were heated salt water. Ginger Noland swam here as a young girl.
This space is currently the miniature golf course at the boardwalk, since 1965.

Santa Cruz Natatorium 1911
1912? - The Interior of the Santa Cruz "Bathing Pavillion" - #59
A pool ladder has been added on the right side of the photo, and a water slide.
Hanging plants have also been added.

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4. Cottage City

Cottage City, Santa Cruz, CA - 1907

Cottage City behind the Natatorium - #61
The city was behind Neptune's Kingdom. The Casa Del Rey Hotel was built on this site.
Previously, the site had been "Tent City".

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5. The Pleasure Pier

Santa Cruz Pleasure Pier 1906
Posted 1906 - Pleasure Pier and Natatorium - #60

Santa Cruz Main Beach 1935
1935 - "Playground of the West"
Main Beach Art Deco - Casino, Natatorium and Pleasure Pier
(May be purchased on eBay from canvas-classics)

Santa Cruz Main Beach 1943
Postmarked 1943 - The Santa Cruz Main Beach appearance during WW2
The connecting archway over Beach Street, between the Casa Del Rey and the Casino, is still in place.
Where is the Santa Cruz Yacht Harbor? It was built 20 years later (62-64).

Cowell's Beach, Santa Cruz 1950

1950? - Cowell's Beach - The Pleasure Pier can be seen in this shot.
The Dream Inn was built in 1963 with 4 floors. Later, 6 more floors were added.
The green Terrace Court Apartments can be seen on Beach Street.
The highest peaks in the background are Mt. Umunhum (3,486 feet), and Loma Prieta (3,791 feet).

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6. Santa Cruz Wharf Summary

Santa Cruz Pier Name

Builder/ Destroyer

1. Cowell's Wharf
   AKA Potato Chute Wharf



Elihu Anthony (Bay Street)
Storm Only wharf from 1849 to 1856

2. Railroad Wharf
   AKA Gharkey Wharf


David Gharkey - Torn down

3. Steamship Wharf
   AKA Powder Wharf



D.G., Torn down - Beach Hill

4. S-shaped wharf - (2-3)



Torn Down

5. Pleasure Pier/
   AKA Electric Pier


Torn down

  6. Municipal Wharf


Only wharf from 1963 to present

Source: scplweb.santacruzpl.org/history/work/wharf.shtml

Wharves from West to East (landfall) --->
Cowell's - Railroad - Municipal - SWharf - Steamship - Pleasure

Santa Cruz Wharves Summary Map
Santa Cruz, CA wharves map
Santa Cruz Map compliments of Google
(Error - "Casa Del Sol" above should read "Casa Del Rey")

Santa Cruz Wharves Timeline

Santa Cruz, CA Wharves Timeline
Four wharves existed from 1877 to 1882 (5 years).
Three wharves existed from 1863 to 1877 (14 years),
and from 1904 to 1907 (3 years), and from 1914 to 1922 (8 years).
Two wharves existed from 1883 to 1904 (24 years), and from 1914 to 1963 (49 years).

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More Old Santa Cruz Beach, Boardwalk,
Casino and Wharf Photos Online

Santa Cruz Municipal Wharf - Wharf History

Dolphin Baths - Santa Cruz Public Library
Neptune Baths - Santa Cruz Public Library
Sea Beach Hotel - Santa Cruz Public Library
1906 Panoramic Photo - Santa Cruz Public Library

The 1904 Casino - Santa Cruz Public Library - Boardwalk Page 1
The New Casino - Santa Cruz Public Library - Boardwalk Page 2
Accomodations - Santa Cruz Public Library - Boardwalk Page 3

Covello Photography - Historic Photos
Historian Sandy Lydon - Central Coasts Secrets

The Longest Piers and Wharves in California

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Vaughn Aubuchon Author Bio

Vaughn's Summaries
©2007, 2008 Vaughn Aubuchon
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This Vaughns Santa Cruz, CA main beach photo
history was last updated on 2015-03-05.