Santa Barbara Neighborhoods

Upper East
The “Riviera”
The Mesa
Mission Canyon
San Roque
Westside

Upper East

Spanish Revival, Craftsman and Tudor are just a few of the many architectural styles represented in this favorite Santa Barbara neighborhood just a few blocks from downtown. Many of the large homes here were originally built for the city’s early movers and shakers and have been beautifully preserved and maintained. Modest cottages and bungalows are also at home here, however, and also
reflect true pride of ownership. Lovely landscaping, tree-shaded sidewalks and two of Santa Barbara’s showcase parks – Alice Keck Memorial Park and Alameda Park – make the Upper Eastside a favorite neighborhood for leisurely strolls and bike rides.

Nearly a dozen places of worship as well as religious education institutions are located here, and the reveredMission Santa Barbara is located at the northern boundary of the neighborhood. The area has its own association and website,
www.sbuppereast.org.
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The “Riviera”

When approaching central Santa Barbara from east or west, one is immediately introduced to the enchanting generous sprinkling of homes forming the city’s backdrop along the foothill of the towering Santa Ynez Mountains. This neighborhood, affectionately called “The Riviera,” stretches from the Santa
Barbara Mission on the west, nearly to Montecito on the east. Its fortunate residents are blessed with dramatic views over the city, to the spectacular ocean and Channel Islands beyond. Winding streets, hidden parks, the quietly elegant El Encanto Hotel and internationally respected Brooks Institute of Photography are among the attractions of the neighborhood.

The Riviera’s rich history adds to its charm. A group of investors purchased a large portion of the area and, in 1913, began development of a housing tract with strict covenants. The following year brought the Santa Barbara State Normal School – later to become the University of California Santa Barbara College. An ornate Italian villa, built in 1916, became the private Marymount School and is still in use today. Silent film stars Douglas Fairbanks, Sr. and his wife, Mary Pickford, planned on building their sumptuous mansion there, but the deal fell through and “Pickfair” was built in Los Angeles.
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The Mesa

Resting between downtown Santa Barbara and the Pacific Ocean, the area known as “The Mesa” is a wonderful family and student neighborhood hosting three public schools, lovely parks overlooking the ocean, a retail center with shopping and restaurants, and Santa Barbara City College. Weather on the
Mesa is a significant reason for its popularity since winter temperatures can be ten degrees warmer and summer temperatures ten degrees cooler than in nearby areas.

A Native American (Chumash) village previous to its more recent residential development, the Mesa has also been home to several ventures of historical significance. The area’s first lighthouse was located here, as were notable mansions, a religious commune, several farms, an oil field and the landing strip
that would be moved to Goleta to become today’s Santa Barbara International Airport.

For more information, check out www.mesavillage.org and www.ourmesaneighborhood.com.
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Mission Canyon

Natural and man-made landmarks are plentiful in this beautiful and dramatic residential area of Santa Barbara which stretches from the Santa Barbara Mission to La Cumbre Peak. In between, hiking trails offer dramatic sandstone formations, seasonal creeks and streams, and spectacular views. Just a couple of blocks from the Mission, the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History and Rocky Nook Park attract visitors and locals alike, as does the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden further up the canyon. Additional man-made historical landmarks include the 1920’s secret hideaway of Ethel Barrymore and the large half-timbered manorhouse built at the turn of the 20th century for composer Robert Cameron Rogers.

By the 1880’s, the area’s population required its own elementary school. Today, residents of the Canyon enjoy more privacy and tranquility than in any other Santa Barbara neighborhood, yet they appreciate convenience to all the amenities the city has to offer.
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San Roque

Between State Street and Foothill Road, and running from Alamar Avenue to Ontare Road in central Santa Barbara, San Roque is one of the area’s most family-friendly residential and commercial neighborhoods. Schools, churches, shopping and dining abound and serve charming blocks of mostly modest homes built in a broad range of architectural styles. Santa Barbarans call this area constructed mostly between 1925 and the mid-1960’s “upper State.”

Some of Santa Barbara’s most popular shopping centers, including La Cumbre Plaza, Loreto Plaza and Five Points, were constructed here and remain important retail centers today.

Not always the delightfully peaceful shopping and family neighborhood it is now, San Roque was at one time ranchland serving as base of operations for notorious bandit Jack Powers and his gang. Between 1850 and 1860, Powers and his hoodlums terrorized the stage route between Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo. It took the threat of Army troops to convince the gang to ride off into the sunset.
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Westside

Densely populated though delightfully eclectic and convenient to downtown, Santa Barbara’s “Westside” is also historically rich. Open ranchland at the time of California’s statehood, within a little over a decade the area was hosting a large winery and vineyards as well as lumber and brick yards. Within another few years there were six Protestant churches in a community that, until then, had been predominately Catholic. In 1871, a boardinghouse was constructed at the corner of Sola and De La Vina Streets. It became the Upham Hotel in 1911 and today is the city’s oldest continuously operating lodging establishment.

In 1887, the Westside became the location of Santa Barbara’s first train station and the city was thriving as a health resort in spite of the fact that it had no health facilities. Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital opened its doors in 1891 at the corner of Pueblo and Castillo Streets.

The first two decades of the 20th century saw the Westside hosting citrus and walnut groves, nurseries, a slaughterhouse and the Santa Barbara Polo Club. Hollywood arrived in 1910 when the American Film Company began construction of the largest movie studio in the world at the time, Flying A Studios, at State and Mission Streets. More than 1,200 films were produced at the facility over the next decade.

Today, the Westside is a great mix of single family homes and apartments that are home to an ethnically diverse population of families, students and professionals. The area supports service and light retail businesses as well, and a nationally-acclaimed medical complex anchored by Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital and Sansum Medical Clinic serve the entire California Central Coast.