Ventura, California, USA

Ventura (officially the City of San Buenaventura; commonly called San Buenaventura before 1891) is the county seat of Ventura County, California, United States, incorporated in 1866. The population was 106,433 at the 2010 census, up from 100,916 at the 2000 census. Ventura is accessible via U.S. Route 101, State Route 33, and State Route 126.


Father Junípero Serra founded Mission San Buenaventura in 1782, forming the basis of what would become the city. The mission was named for St. Bonaventure, a Thirteenth Century Franciscan saint and a Doctor of the Church. The first mission burned in 1801 and a replacement building of brick and stone was completed in 1809. The bell tower and facade of the new mission was destroyed by an 1812 earthquake. On July 6, 1841, Governor Juan Bautista Alvarado granted Rancho San Miguel to Felipe Lorenzana and Raymundo Olivas, whose Olivas Adobe on the banks of the Santa Clara River was the most magnificent hacienda south of Monterey.

The inhabitants at the time of the arrival of the Spanish in the late 18th Century were a local band of the Chumash tribe (the Mitskanaka). Archaeological research demonstrates that the Chumash have deep roots in central and southern coastal regions of California, and lived here for millennia.

After the American Civil War, settlers came to the area, buying land from the Mexicans, or simply as squatters. Vast holdings were later acquired by Easterners, including therailroad magnate, Thomas Scott. He was impressed by one of the young employees,Thomas R. Bard, who had been in charge of train supplies to Union troops, and Bard was sent west to handle Scott's property.

Not easily accessible, Ventura was not a target of immigrants, and as such, remained quiet and rural. For most of the century which followed the incorporation of Ventura in 1866, it remained isolated from the rest of the state.

Bard is often regarded as the Father of Ventura and his descendants have been prominently identified with the growth of Ventura County. The Union Oil Company was organized with Bard as President in 1890, and has offices in Santa Paula. The largeVentura Oil Field was first drilled in 1919 and at its peak produced 90,000 barrels per day (14,000 m3/d). The city is located between the Ventura River and the Santa Clara River, leading to soil so fertile that citrus grew better here than anywhere else in the state. The citrus farmers formed Sunkist Growers, Incorporated, the world's largest organization of citrus production.

On March 12, 1928, the St. Francis Dam, 54 miles (87 km) inland, failed catastrophically, taking over 600 lives. The resulting flood reached Montalvo about 5:30 a.m., almost two miles (3 km) wide and traveling at a speed of 5 miles (8 km) per hour.

From the south, travel by auto was slow and hazardous, until the completion of a four-lane freeway (US Highway 101) over theConejo Grade in 1959. This route, now further widened and improved by 1969, is known as the Ventura Freeway, which directly links Ventura with the Los Angeles metropolitan area. Another route, US Highway 101 ALT (now the Pacific Coast Highway) traveled along the coast from Santa Monica via Oxnard, but was not heavily used.

From the north, entrance was by way of a single road along the beach and stagecoach passengers either had to wait until low tide when the horses could cross on the exposed wet sand, or go up the Ventura River Valley and then cross over the mountains toSanta Barbara via Casitas Pass, a long and difficult trip.

Inland, Ventura was hemmed in by (what is now) the Los Padres National Forest, composed of mountainous country and deep canyons. This route became passable with the completion of the Maricopa Highway (Hwy 33) in the 1930s.

Since then, Ventura has grown steadily. In 1920 there were 4,156 people. In 1930 the population had increased to 11,603, by 1950 the population reached 16,643, by 1970 the population was 57,964, and in 1980 the population had increased to 73,774. In the last three decades it has increased to approximately 107,000.

Points of interest

Ventura is famed for the quality and frequency of the surfing conditions at spots such as Surfer's Point at Ventura County Fairgrounds.

Downtown Ventura is home to the Mission San Buenaventura, museums, galleries, dining, and shopping. Primary areas of activity include California Street and Main Street between Ventura Avenue and Fir Street. Located in downtown is the historic Ortega Adobe, once home to the Ortega family, now famous for their chili products. Numerous thrift stores contrast with high-end shops and restaurants. Downtown Ventura is home to Ventura's ornate city hall with its statue of Junipero Serra. Downtown now features numerous restaurants, winebars and the internationally acclaimed Rubicon Theatre Company.

The 4,300-square-foot (400 m2) Ventura Visitors Center, at 101 South California Street, has exhibits on the Heritage Valley, Channel Islands National park, the local arts scene, and maps and brochures about the area.

Downtown's Majestic Ventura Theater is an early 20th-century landmark. A venue for concerts, it has seen performances of bands such as Gregg Allman, John Prine, The Doors, Devo, Van Halen, X, Paramore, Ray Charles, She Wants Revenge, Pennywise, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Lamb of God, Social Distortion, Bad Religion, Thrice, Avenged Sevenfold, Fugazi, Incubus, Tom Petty, America, They Might Be Giants, Panic! at the Disco, and Modest Mouse, as well as local artists such as Army of Freshmen, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, Gregory Hillman, Bruce Kimmell.

One of the most recognizable landmarks in Ventura is "the Two Trees". These are two lone trees on a hill, visible from most of Ventura.

In Plaza Park (Chestnut and Santa Clara Streets, downtown) stands one of the nation's largest Moreton Bay Fig Trees. Across the street, the main post office has Works Projects Administration murals on interior walls.

The Ventura Harbor has fishing boats, seafood restaurants and a retail center, Ventura Harbor Village. The Channel Islands National Park Headquarters is also located in the harbor, and boats to the Channel Islands depart from there daily.

Pierpont Bay (Pierpont) is a residential neighborhood in the one-mile stretch between the Ventura Harbor and San Buenaventura State Beach. Reclaimed marshland was subdivided in 1925 and houses were built in fits of development interrupted by years of economic depression, war, and coastal floods (in 1937 and 1962). Long a hodge-podge of rental dwellings, weekend cottages and vacant lots, it was transformed by successive California real estate booms into a fashionable but eclectic mix of newer large homes and older modest beach cottages, now mostly owner-occupied. Piecemeal development, not overly burdened by planning efforts or regulatory attentions, left Pierpont with widely varying architectural styles, a spotty retail district Seaward Avenue, newer residents' demands for increased municipal maintenance, and continuing disputes about the proper regulation of the neighborhood's public beaches. Recently plans have been announced for high-density development on some streets, and state authorities have begun to more actively manage beaches that were mostly self-regulated for eighty years.

The Ventura County Fairgrounds is the home of the annual Ventura County Fair, and over the years has hosted such acts as Jimi Hendrix, The Grateful Dead, Smokey Robinson, and All American Rejects.

The Derby Club at the Ventura County Fairgrounds offers Horse Racing Live via Satellite, and full service bars and restaurants.

The Ventura County Fairgrounds is also the home of Ventura Raceway, "The best little dirt track in America".

The Ventura County Fairgrounds also serves as a Train Station for Amtrak's Pacific Surfliner route

The Vans Warped Tour also stops yearly at the Ventura County Fairgrounds with line ups including bands such as Yellowcard, Pepper and Avenged Sevenfold.

The Olivas Adobe, one of the early California Rancho homes, is operated today as a museum and performing arts venue. Located adjacent to the Olivas Park Golf Course, the home is one of the most visited historic sites on the central coast. Living history reinactments, demonstrations of Rancho life, and wonderful ghost stories abound. A summer music series of performances held in the old home's courtyard feature an eclectic assortment of artists from blues to jazz to country.

Perry Mason creator Erle Stanley Gardner had a law practice and did much of his early writing in Downtown Ventura. The building where his law offices were housed, at California and Main Street bears his name on a historical marker.

The Ventura Film Festival shows over 200 films each year. The films Swordfish, Little Miss Sunshine, Chinatown, Erin Brockovich, The Aviator, and The Rock were partly filmed in Ventura, and most of the 2011 release Bellflower was shot in Ventura.

The headquarters for outdoor clothing manufacturer Patagonia is located downtown. The eco-designer Stewart+Brown has their factory just a few blocks from the ocean. Chic diaper bag manufacturer Petunia Pickle Bottom is headquartered near downtown Ventura. Ventura is a course in Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2. It was called 'Skatestreet Ventura'.



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