Capitola is one of four incorporated cities in Santa Cruz County, along with Santa Cruz, Watsonville, and Scotts Valley. Capitola is situated on Monterey Bay in mid-county, east of Live Oak, straddling Soquel Creek. It was established in 1869 by Frederick A. Hihn, and became a city in 1949.
Camp Capitola (sketch at right from Elliott, published in 1879) was originally, as the name implies, a campground - a summer vacation destination for families. The origin of the name Capitola is still a mystery. Some local historians believe it was derived from the word “capitol”, part of a failed early 1850s bid to bring the not-yet-permanently-located state capitol to the area. Another, more colorful theory, is that the Camp was named after "Capitola the Madcap", heroine of two popular novels of the 1850s. Don Clark collected all the stories about the name. Capitola Wharf and the Capitola railroad trestle shown in the sketch remain today, much-altered but in the same places.
Construction of the Hotel Capitola in 1895 raised the former tent camp to luxury resort status, competing with the Aptos Hotel.