From Barley Fields

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From Barley Fields to Oil Town: a tour of Huntington Beach, 1901-1922.

Published 1995

ABOUT THE BOOK: This 37 page booklet features both  a short history of the city, and a walking tour of 1922 downtown Huntington Beach.

WHAT THE AUTHOR HAS TO SAY:  As a resident of downtown Huntington Beach, I’ve enjoyed walking and bicycling down Main Street, the “tree” and “numbered” streets (as they are called by locals), looking at the older homes and buildings, trying to picture what the area was like in the early days.  My curiosity, and the fact that I’m a librarian with ready access to information, led me to further research in old newspapers.  This booklet is the result of what I found out about Huntington Beach.  It’s meant to be a walking guide (with a little history thrown in), to take with you as you explore the town, seeing through the veneer of today and imaging what existed in the past.

Early Years

     In 1901, the now thriving city of Huntington Beach was nothing more than a barren waste of sand dunes and farming fields. It was Col. S.H. Findlay who saw the possibilities of the location as a resort, and in 1901 he made a survey for a townsite, subdivided 40 acres of land and called it Pacific City. With fellow promoter W.T. Newland, they purchased some vacant houses at Newport and hauled them a distance of more than twelve miles. Thirty-six mules were used for two entire days to drag the buildings along the roads and over mesas to the new town. These were the first structures in Pacific City, the area now known as downtown Huntington Beach.

     C.W. Warren, who later became city recorder and police judge, was the first resident of the new town. As a young man he spent his summers on the beach, living in a tent. He later decided to move into one of the houses carted from Newport, erecting the first sidewalk in town in front of his home.

     The following year, 1902, Newland and Findlay along with Philip a. Stanton, formed the West Coast Land and Water Company purchasing what was then known as the Northam Rancho comprising approximately 3,500 acres. The Northam Ranch house was on Yorktown across from the current Civic Center. This was the first building on the mesa, brought to the site by R.J. Northam between 1895-97. It is considered by many to be the birthplace of Huntington Beach.


This is out of print. A few copies are still available through the author for only $12 (which includes sales tax and shipping). Contact the author.