Santa Barbara, California

Santa Barbara is a city and seat of Santa Barbara County, southwestern California, United States of America. The city lies along the Pacific coast at the base of the Santa Ynez Mountains, facing the Santa Barbara Channel. Santa Barbara is located 156 km northwest of Los Angeles and has a mild climate throughout the year due to its location that is protected to the north by the mountains and by the Santa Barbara Islands to the south. Santa Barbara has a total area of 108.8 square km, of which 51 square km of it is land, and 58 square km of it is water.

Santa Barbara
Santa Barbara, California.

The Population Of Santa Barbara

In 2019, Santa Barbara, California, had a population of 91,400 people with a median age of 39. As of 2019, around 20,000 people (22% of the residents) of Santa Barbara were born outside the country. The most common birthplace of foreign-born residents of California is Mexico, followed by the Philippines and China. The largest ethnic groups in Santa Barbara are non-Hispanic White representing 55.6% of the city’s population, the Hispanic community at 23.6%, Other at 11.4%, Asian at 3.76%, and Two or more races at 1.78%. All households in Santa Barbara speak English at home as their primary language, and the car ownership rate was two cars per household in 2019.

Santa Barbara
State street in downtown Santa Barbara. Editorial credit: Gabriele Maltinti / Shutterstock.com

In 2019, the largest universities in Santa Barbara by the number of degrees awarded were Santa Barbara City College, Fielding Graduate University, and Antioch University-Santa Barbara. The student body was skewed towards women, and most students graduating from universities in Santa Barbara are White, followed by Hispanic or Latino. The most popular majors in Santa Barbara are Liberal Arts and Sciences, Humanities Studies, and Biological and Physical Sciences.

The Economy Of Santa Barbara

The median household income in Santa Barbara reached $76,606 in 2019. The income inequality in California (measured using the Gini index) is recorded at 0.499, which is higher than the national average. Moreover, males tend to earn more than females, with an average income that is 1.26 times higher than the average income of females.

The economy of Santa Barbara is well supported by a vast range of industries and employs more than half of the city’s population. The largest industries in Santa Barbara are Health Care & Social Assistance, Accommodation & Food Services, and Professional, Scientific, & Technical Services. The highest paying industries are Utilities, Finance & Insurance, and Public Administration. 

Brief History Of Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara Mission, California
The historic Santa Barbara Mission in California.

Santa Barbara was named by the Spanish explorer Sebastian Vizcaino in 1602 for the patron saint of mariners. A military post was established in Santa Barbara in 1782. The mission of Santa Barbara was set up in 1786. The mission, which served as the western headquarters of the Franciscan Order, has been in use since its founding, and the military post is now maintained as a state historic park. An agricultural market and a port were later developed. John Charles Fremont raised the U.S. flag at the military post in 1846. The Southern Pacific Railroad arrived in the area in 1887. The city was promoted as a seaside resort and developed an economy based on tourism, petroleum production, citrus fruit farming, and cattle raising.

 An earthquake hit the area in 1925, but the buildings were later restored in Spanish Colonial Style, and the city’s adobe character is preserved by law. Santa Barbara has developed as a generally picturesque and affluent community.

Santa Barbara was a significant center of silent film production in the days before Hollywood from 1912-1921. In the late 1950s and 60s, as the city limits expanded to the north and attention and interest were diverted from the old downtown and to the new retail developments uptown, which caused some downward disinterest and disinvestment in the downtown, the area which was previously the heart of the city.

Santa Barbara is home to many old schools and colleges. Westmont College was founded in 1940, followed by Santa Barbara City Community College, which was established in 1946. The University of California, which was originally founded as a private school in 1891, was organized in 1944. 

Tourist Attractions In Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara beach
A beach in Santa Barbara.

Santa Barbara is a beautiful coastal city and a popular weekend destination in Southern California, known for its free attractions, excellent beaches, beautiful wedding venues, and family activities.

Visitors enjoy over 27,000 American, Asian and European artworks in the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, founded in 1941. The building was originally used by the Santa Barbara Post Office but is now renovated and used for art exhibits and contains an auditorium, a library, and a café.

The Lobero Theater is the oldest continuously performing theater in California and one of the top Santa Barbara attractions. Lobero was founded in 1873 and rebuilt in 1924. Lobero has always been famous for professional and community performances. Many of the big Santa Barbara performing arts groups call Lobero home: State Street Ballet, Santa Barbara Chamber Orchestra, and others.

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