Panorama 1: Bird’s Eye View of Santa Cruz, 1870

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Bird’s Eye View of Santa Cruz (1870), A. L. Bancroft & Co. Lith, S. F.

Before there was photography from airplanes, a series of informative panoramic views of Santa Cruz were produced, in various media:

  • Panorama 1: Bird’s Eye View of Santa Cruz, 1870
  • Panorama 2: Trousset oil painting, 1876
  • Panorama 3: "Birds Eye View" lithograph, 1877
  • 1889 Steinegger lithograph
  • 1893 Heath oil painting
  • 1906 Swanton lithograph
  • 1906 Lawrence aerial photograph

These notes are meant to accompany the expanded Prezi slideshow presentation on the 1870 lithograph, which includes all structures noted as being built before 1871 in The Sidewalk Companion to Santa Cruz Architecture. The information presented here is from that book, unless noted otherwise. Text tags shown in the slides are underlined in the text below, in the order of their appearance in the animation.

Other useful graphical reference documents are:

  • 1853 U. S. Coastal Survey map (available online). One detail from that map is included in the presentation (Slide 7).
  • 1866 Santa Cruz city street map, produced by Foreman and Wright. A copy is held by the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History (MAH) archives. One detail from that map is included (Slide 8).

Slide 1 This lithograph is an early panoramic pictorial view of Santa Cruz. The original was 30” x 20”. A cropped copy of it hangs in the Archives office at MAH. A larger-than-original-size print hangs in Room 8 at City Hall. When studying this image, it’s important to remember a few things:

  • The airborne viewpoint is imaginary - the artist couldn’t actually see all the features shown from one place. That accounts for many of the inaccuracies.
  • It’s not a photograph. The drawing of most features is simplified, especially those farther away. Some streets, structures and landscape features are drawn incorrectly.
  • The artist manipulated perspective to get a wider field of view. In some spots the result is noticeable in skewed street directions and apparent distance. Some more distant buildings are drawn larger than life (e.g. Holy Cross church).
  • Judging from the inclusion of several structures built in 1870, it seems that this view must have been composed late in the year.

Slide 2 - Zoom to title. The “Bird’s Eye View” was a popular type of graphic image in the second half of the 1800s. Many of them have been collected by the Bancroft Library, digitized, and made available online for viewing and/or download.

Slide 3 The original includes, in its bottom border, a key to 26 items number-tagged on the image. The key is split to left and right of the title. Just above the key is the name of the artist, C. [Charles] B. Gifford. (What is “Delt. S. J.”? Society of Jesus? San Jose?)

Slide 4 To the right of the title is the second half of the numbered key. Just above the key is the name of the lithographer and publisher. A. L. Bancroft was the brother of historian Hubert Howe Bancroft, and publisher of his historical books.

Slide 5 Using the key tags as a starting point, it’s possible to identify many historical Santa Cruz features. 1. "Coast Road". This identification is incorrect. The road indicated is today's Bay Street, originally known as Lime Kiln Road because it was built to haul lime from the Lime Works to the wharf. The 1866 city map has both names. In this view, the shape of the road as it approaches the bay doesn’t show the actual bend that follows the bluff line above the lagoon (see 1866 map). 2. "Road to Lighthouse". This is today’s Lighthouse Street (which never went to the lighthouse). The field of view is not wide enough to show the lighthouse itself (built 1869). The road was new when this view was drawn (not shown on the 1866 map). 3. "Davis and Cowell’s Wharf". Henry Cowell bought out Isaac Davis’ original partner A. P. Jordan in 1865.

  • The steeply-sloping upper part of the wharf may be the original “chute” built by Elihu Anthony in 1853, or a rebuilt version of it. Later photos show a less-steeply-sloped upper section. Davis & Jordan added the lower part in 1857.
  • At the top of the wharf, the lime warehouse is shown (see photo in next slide)
  • The smaller rectangular building behind and perpendicular to the warehouse may be an older warehouse shown on the 1853 Coast Survey map – possibly built by Anthony at the same time as the first wharf. It may have been moved to the west so the larger building could be built at the top of the wharf.
  • Santa Cruz’ first bridge (also built by Anthony, in 1849). Built with simple piles and spans like a wharf, the low bridge was replaced by a higher truss-type span in 1875, so that the new Santa Cruz Railroad trains could pass beneath.

Slide 6 This photo from the MAH archives (with the handwritten date “1891”) shows a double wagon, loaded with barrels of lime, arriving in front of the warehouse. The sign says “DAVIS & COWELL, LIME & CEMENT” (out-of-date if 1891 is the correct photo date - Cowell bought out Davis in 1888).

Slide 7 This detail from the 1853 Coastal Survey map shows the same area as Slide 5:

  • The building outlined at the top of the wharf, may be an older building (shown to the left and perpendicular to the lime warehouse in the 1870 view).Later features (after 1853) were added in colored ink.
  • The shape of the Anthony-Davis-Jordan wharf on this map (especially at the top) doesn’t agree with the 1870 view.
  • The bend in Bay Street to follow the bluffs remains today, but is not shown in the 1870 view.
  • The Anthony bridge is not shown.
  • The 1857 Gharky wharf was added to the map after 1853, but before the California Powder Company acquired it in 1865.

Slide 8 Detail from the 1866 Foreman-Wright city map (copy in MAH archives). The following features are indicated by arrows, in this order:

  • “Bay Street” and “Lime Kiln Road” names both shown
  • “Rountree’s Lane” was the access to the A. L. Rountree lands. Rountree sold Lighthouse Point to the government.
  • “Davis & Cowell” properties shown, but not the wharf itself.
  • F. M. Kittredge property shown
  • The future "Road to Lighthouse" is not shown, as it was not built yet. Also note that the road never actually went to the lighthouse. Lighthouse access was from what is now West Cliff Drive.

Slide 9 - back to the lithograph, and moving up Bay Street (with another number 1):

  • Rountree’s Lane
  • 1869 Bayview School building (SCPL 0546) can be seen at the intersection with Mission Street, where the school’s later incarnation stands today.
  • Follow Lime Kiln Road on up to its end at the vaguely-indicated Lime Works – now the main entrance to the UCSC campus. The final leftward bend shows today’s Cardiff Place continuing straight (High Street not shown) to the 1864 home of original lime works partner A. P. Jordan. In 1865, the house (now called Cardiff House) passed to Henry Cowell.
  • Where Laurel Street goes up the hill, one or more of the smaller buildings on the right may be from the old mission grist mill, constructed in 1796 (Chase says the mill buildings were all gone by 1866).
  • The Feliz family (spelled J. J. Felix on the 1866 map) owned the property on the left, and built an adobe residence that may be another of the buildings shown.
  • The cluster of buildings with the smokestack is the R. C. Kirby tannery complex, located on Majors Creek – the original Arroyo Santa Cruz and today’s Laurel Street Brook. Kirby moved to this location in 1863. The middle of the smokestack is about where Emily’s bakery stands today. Another view of the Kirby tannery can be found on page f14 of Elliott. Note that Elliott’s 1879 view shows considerable differences in the tannery buildings.

Slide 10. Farther to the right:

  • In 1870, Walnut St ended at Mission St. The approximate creekside location of the Joseph L. Majors mill (grist) is perhaps indicated by the disembodied mill wheel.
  • Above the Escalona, the one large house may represent the one Majors built.
  • At the top of the Walnut Street hill is the 1850 house bought by Thomas Weeks. Weeks later donated this land for the construction of Santa Cruz High School.

Slide 11. Beach Hill and vicinity: 4. Laurel Street Public School. An 1862 Santa Cruz Sentinel article noted that construction of a school was underway. The school is shown at the corner of Laurel and Washington, where the park is now. 5. Pacific Avenue. – called Willow Street before 1866. The evenly-spaced trees shown around the junction with Laurel St could be some of the last remaining willows, originally planted by the padres to delineate the mission’s food-crop fields. Notice also how the wide bend of the San Lorenzo River, unconstrained by today’s levees, swung over almost to Pacific Avenue near the end of Laurel St. 6. California Powder Company’s wharf. Originally built by David Gharkey in 1857, the wharf was acquired by the Powder Co. in the 1860s. Powder Company buildings cluster around the top of the wharf near today’s intersection of Main and 1st. For more wharf info, see the article by Frank Perry et al.

  • Note: 2nd Street – shown running behind the Powder Company warehouses - provided the only road access to Beach Hill in 1870 (from Pacific), and is not shown clearly in this view (compare to the 1866 map).
  • Powder storage. The small box structure off the side of the wharf was for storage of explosives awaiting shipping (thanks to Frank Perry for that tidbit).

Also in this area:

  • Blackburn orchard. The extensive fruit tree orchard of William & Harriett Blackburn lay between lower Pacific Avenue and the lagoon. The one house shown south of Laurel is presumably the Blackburn residence, built c.1854. The location shown, opposite the end of Washington Street, is too far west. The structure remains today as the Blackburn House hotel, located between today’s Center and Cedar Streets.
  • Francis M. Kittredge house, built in 1867. It was moved to the back of the property when the original “Sunshine Villa” was built in 1883, and torn down when that structure was remodeled into today’s Sunshine Villa.
  • Seaside Home - a cluster of cabins to the left of the top of the wharf.
  • James J. Smith house. Smith was a sea captain.
  • William Hardy house – on 3rd St at top of Main.
  • William Rennie house – top of Cliff St.
  • Dolphin Baths? Chase says it was built in 1868, but it’s not in this view. It seems more likely that the bath house was built after the railroad (1875), which ran right behind it. The area of “Beach flats” indicated belonged to Dolphin owner John Leibbrandt.
  • Chinatown. The 1st Santa Cruz Chinatown was on the west side of Pacific between Lincoln and Elm. The structure with a smokestack may be the cigar factory located in that area.

Slide 12. All of the early downtown Protestant churches are in this view: 7. Episcopal Church. 1865 Calvary Episcopal is the oldest Santa Cruz church building still standing. 8. Congregational Church. Church Street got its name because this 1858 church was built on it, located between Cedar and Center streets. 9. Unity Church. (1868) Built on Walnut Street, just off Pacific (See SCPL photo #339). 10. Baptist Church. On Locust Street, up on the terrace, built in 1867 (later moved to Center St). Note that both Locust and Union streets continued up the hill at this time, and Union appears to have steps on one side. 11. Methodist Church. Shown is the second iteration of the town’s oldest Protestant church, built in 1863 at the corner of Mission and Green streets.

Also in this area:

  • Boston and Jones (formerly Kirby and Jones) tannery, with the tall smokestack, which developed from the original mission tannery. Boston’s widow closed the tannery for good in 1875 and subdivided the land, but the 60’-tall smokestack remained for another ten years. Homes nearby included:
  • Rafael Castro-Joseph Boston (1836 adobe with frame 2nd story added). Formerly located on today’s High Street, it may be the large structure partly visible behind the tannery. Note that High Street is not shown to the west beyond this point.
  • Alexander McDonald house (1867), still standing at 330 High St. This may be one of the two structures shown to the left and behind the tannery.
  • John B. Perry (1850s) house, still standing at 114 Escalona Dr. (then called Davis St.) It may be the one house shown on the short street in front of the tannery. Perry designed and built many early frame buildings, including Cardiff House and the 1866 County Courthouse.
  • Pope House hotel on Mission Street (see SCPL photo 0019). The street to the left appears to be today’s Highland Ave. If so, the actual Pope House location was to the left (west) of where it is shown.
  • Field. The Storer and Lucy Ann Field house (early 1860s) remains today.
  • Kunitz. Johann Kunitz moved his soap and glue factory to River Street before 1872, when F. A. Hihn built his mansion.
  • Hihn. F. A. Hihn’s first home was, according to Chase (p.61), built in 1857 on the south side of Locust and moved across the street to its current location at 324 Locust in 1872, when Hihn built his mansion. This view shows a 2-story house already at 324 Locust, so perhaps the move happened earlier than recorded by the Chase source(s).
  • Harte. A row of small cottages is shown on the south side of Church St. According to Chase (p.65), this is where writer Bret Harte stayed in 1868.
  • Dreher. The John Dreher house (1850s-60s) stood set back from Center Street at what was then the end of Elm Street. Dreher came to Santa Cruz in 1849 and acquired 11 acres here. Later moved closer to the street, the house was demolished after the 1989 earthquake.
  • Kirby. The residence of R. C. and Georgiana Bruce Kirby (1850s) was built on the south side of Mission Street, where the Chestnut Street cut-through is today. That means this view would be looking at the back of the house. The house was moved in the 1880s to its current location at 117 Jordan Street.
  • Arana. At the bluff-top end of Union Street was the Manuel Arana (of Arana Gulch) adobe (1849), shown with a wood-frame 2nd story added later.

Slide 13 Mission Hill: 12. Roman Catholic Church. Shown is the wooden Holy Cross Church built in 1857 (see Elliott, p.f6). The repaired remainder of the adobe chapel, with a wooden façade, is to the right. The stone County Jail (1864), to the right of the chapel. 13. Upper Plaza. Note the lack of any landscaping at this date. According to Chase, the area had just been remodeled in 1870. Streets were laid out on three sides of the plaza and the old mission water supply ditch was under-grounded.

  • The 1850s Alzina house still stands on the plaza.

14. Mission Street. 15. Sisters’ School. The second home of the Sisters of Charity School.

  • The school’s previous home can be seen behind the newer. The old adobe “juzgado” had previously been repurposed and enlarged as William Blackburn’s Eagle Hotel in 1848 (see Elliott, p.f6).
  • Neary-Rodriguez adobe – originally one of the mission neophyte dormitories.

16. Public School. Shown is the first Mission Hill School, built in 1857 and replaced in 1875. 17. Temperance Hall. A public meeting hall built in 1861 by a local temperance society (see photo in Chase p.87).


  • Adobe. The location and shape of this building suggest that it may be a small remaining section of one of the long mission residence buildings, similar to the Neary-Rodriguez adobe. The building is included in the mission model on display at Santa Cruz Mission State Historic Park.
  • Fallon. Thomas Fallon built a 2-story saddlery shop-residence-hotel here in (1849) – where mission replica is now. Fallon sold it to Santa Cruz County and it became the first County Courthouse. After a new courthouse was built in 1866, the Fallon building became the first County Hospital. The building isn’t shown in this view.
  • Wm. T. Hunter blacksmith shop – corner Mission & Vine (no date in Chase)
  • Pierce res. – next up Mission (before school)
  • Leslie general store (’60) – Mission, uphill from school
  • Schwartz - 214-222 Mission. – Louis Schwartz built three 1½ story houses in 1867 that remain today.

Slide 14 - Downtown 18. Lower Plaza. Many buildings are identifiable:

  • Anthony Block (1870) This and the Anthony house are the newest structures shown in the lithograph (see photo in Chase p.85).
  • Elihu Anthony house, at the end of School St where a parking lot is now (see photo in Chase p.106).
  • Reservoir. The city’s first, built by Hihn-Anthony in 1859 at the end of the old mission aqueduct that brought water from the Tres Ojos de Agua springs.
  • St. Charles hotel (1867). The mansard roof we know from later photographs was not added until 1873 (see photo in Chase p.87).
  • Diesing Brewery (1850s)
  • Pacific Ocean House hotel (1865). Next door on the right: Lulu Carpenter’s (1865), which remains today. The long, wide porch in front of both buildings, with its roof that doubled as a dance floor, was not added until a few years later (see p. f18 in Elliott).
  • Flatiron building (1860). Next door to the south is the Zoccoli’s building (1866), which remains today (see SCPL photo 0093).
  • Santa Cruz House and Franklin House hotels, maybe the first downtown hotels (see SCPL photo 0093).

19. Stage Road to San Jose – Water Street bridge, first across the San Lorenzo River at Santa Cruz. Shown is an early iteration of the bridge, built on piles. (see History Pages: 47 - Santa Cruz in 1882: Water Street Gets a New Bridge) 20. IOOF Hall and Post Office. The building indicated is not what we remember today as the Oddfellows building (where the town clock was originally), which was not built until 1873 - on the other side of Pacific. A photo in Chase (p.143) shows this building but the text does not identify it. 21. County Courthouse – This is the first courthouse, built in 1866. It burned down in 1894 and was replaced by the “Cooper House” building. The empty corner of Cooper and Main is where the Octagon building is now. (See photo in Chase, p.178) 22. Main Street. The first city street map (Foreman and Wright, 1866) showed the name changed from Main to today’s Front Street, but no doubt many still called it Main Street in 1870. The section south of Cooper Street was still relatively new in 1870 (see SCPL photo 0093) 23. San Lorenzo River - meandering prettily but prone to flooding before levees. 25. Branciforte River. Now called Branciforte “Creek”, it retained the name of the original Spanish pueblo.

  • Ford 1. The old ford can still be seen at Branciforte Creek / San Lorenzo. The location marked ford 2 appears to be another ford.
  • Bridge. Brand-new (in 1870) wharf-style bridge at today’s Soquel Avenue, replaced in 1874 with a covered bridge.

Slide 15 - Ocean Street area: 19. The second “19” label is on today’s north Ocean Street, just above the intersection at Water Street. 24. Watsonville Road. Today’s Soquel Avenue follows the old Spanish road.

  • Bausch Brewery, with flagpole and smokestack.
  • The horse-drawn wagon is starting up the hill from the intersection of today’s Ocean St. and Soquel Ave., past the first Branciforte School (today’s Branciforte Plaza).
  • Hall. Richard H. Hall residence (late 1860s), later moved to Ocean View St. and still there.
  • At far right, Branciforte Avenue follows the top of the bluff.

25. Branciforte River. The second “25” is a short distance upstream from the bridge at Water Street.

Slide 16 - River mouth area: 23. San Lorenzo River. The lower river didn’t yet have any roads following its frequently-flooded shoreline in 1870, and Ocean Street simply ends at river’s edge. There was no railroad bridge crossing the river near its mouth until 1875.

  • Barson. Fred Barson had just bought this property, and had not yet built the Riverside Hotel (1877).
  • Beach Flats. Nothing built there in 1870.
  • Ocean View Avenue was laid out the next year. Ocean Villa (shown prominently in the 1876 Trousset painting) was built at the end.

26. Bathing House – Here’s what going to the beach looked like in 1870. The structure shown appears to be temporary or, at best, hastily built. It’s not one of the more-permanent “baths” (e.g. Dolphin, Neptune) built later and closer to where the Boardwalk is now. The rope or cable shown extending out into the surf was a safety precaution, in the days before lifeguards. This may be the establishment Charles Martelle announced in the Sentinel in 1867.

  • The artist? Many landscape artists put themselves somewhere in the scene.

Slide 17 ...and ships at sea. Rereading the chapter "Ship Building and Ocean Traffic", which begins on p.131 of Santa Cruz: The Early Years, by Leon Rowland, I had the thought that one or more of the ships mentioned might actually be in the 1870 lithograph. I haven't made a study of ship types common in 1870, but there's only one vessel in the lithograph that would be described as a "steamer" (easily recognizable because it has a smokestack). Rowland mentions two steamers active in the coastal trade in 1870: the Gussie Telfair and the Monterey. Maybe a picture of one of those two ships exists somewhere, and could be used to determine whether the one in the 1870 lithograph was supposed to be a particular real ship or just a generic representation.

In an earlier Rowland article, written in 1936 for the Santa Cruz News (and viewable for free thanks to a "clipping" by Geoff Dunn), several other coastal steamers are mentioned as being in service to Santa Cruz before 1870, but it's not clear which ones were still around at the time the lithograph view was composed. In addition, the schooner Fanny Gilmore is mentioned, owned by Davis & Cowell. It's possible that the Fanny Gilmore looked similar to the four two-masted sailing ships shown tied up at the two wharfs.

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