||Laguna's history dates back hundreds of years. Indians
became the first inhabitants of Laguna. Attracted by the plentiful supply
of fish and shell fish along the rocky coast, they fished
from the seaside rocks and hunted deer in the surrounding canyons. The Indians
called this area Lagona (an indian name for lakes) after the two fresh water
lakes in Laguna canyon.
In the 1800's,
the spanish titled the area "Canada de las Lagunas" (canyon of the lakes).
Laguna continued to be know as Lagona until 1904. Mail bound
for Lagona was often being delivered to Long Beach, so by
special request, the name was changed to Laguna Beach (affectionately
know as simply Laguna).
The first settlers came in 1870 when they were allowed to
live on the land without paying. They were given 160 acres
of land with the agreement that they had to plant 10 acres of trees over a
10 year period.
In the early days, Lagona was a seaside resort where visitors
had to stay in tents because there were no other accommodations.
The area became a popular spot for people living inland. They loved the cool
ocean breeze, the warm sand and the beautiful beaches.
The area was too rocky
and hilly for agriculture so laguna was slow to gain permanent
residents. The Thurston Family was the first to arrive in 1870. They settled
at the mouth of Aliso Creek in a small cabin. The Thurston's planted watermelons
and food to live on. They were practically the only permanent residents for
Later in the 1880's, families started to build summer homes
and cottages in Laguna. By 1890, the beaches were filled with people fishing,
sunning and swimming. If you had a good team of horses, you could make the
trek to Laguna from Santa Ana down the dirt road that wound through the canyon.
Yoch opened the Hotel Laguna in 1889 in the same location
it stands today. With a hotel in town, more vacationers would
now travel to Laguna taking the train to the Irvine Station
then the Rockaway Stage Coach to Laguna.
Still not large enough
to be called a town, by 1900 Laguna had become a thriving community. There
were now 10 people listed as permanent residents, a general store, a postal
service and a transportation system to get there.
Norman St. Clair was the first artist
to arrive in Laguna in 1906. St. Clair had heard of Laguna's beauty and came
to visit and to paint. Upon his return to San Francisco, St Clair was so taken
by Laguna that he elaborated about his experiences of Laguna with his colleagues
and friends. Through his sharing and the sale of his paintings, St. Clair was
instrumental in popularizing Laguna to the art community and vacationers of
By 1917, 40 artists
were living in Laguna and in 1918 they formed the Laguna
Art Association. Once artist came to town, Laguna was no longer the quite little
community it had once been. In 1932 a group of artists displayed their paintings
in a vacant lot on Forest Avenue. This became he first Laguna Beach Festival
of the Arts.
Beach is as much the art community that it was in the early '90s. Laguna is
the home of three art festivals (Festival of the Arts, Sawdust Festival and
the Art-A -Fair) and the Pageant of the Masters, a live re-creation of classical
and contemporary works of art staged using real people.