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Treasures of the Upper Eastside
updated: Aug 13, 2011, 9:45 AM

by Peter Hartmann & Stacey Wright

This week we continued our quest to walk all 256 miles of public streets within the city limits of Santa Barbara. The Upper East is an area of town that demanded several hikes: It consists of numerous streets, avenues and side streets, as well as a few little alleyways. It's bounded by the following streets: State, Anapamu, Constance, Garden, Emerson and Prospect.

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Please forgive us for failing to include in this segment some the obvious Upper East gems - like Alice Keck Park Park, Kids World, Alameda Park, The SB Mission, and the other spectacular churches of this region. Earlier this year, we wrote an Urban Hike article about the proliferation of churches and other houses of worship, most of which are located on the Upper East. We refer you to that article for photos and histories of these important landmarks. Also, we've previously reported on many of the homes of the Upper East, in two of our earlier stories: one involving Anacapa Street, the other involving Santa Barbara Street.

And so, we begin this piece with some of the more hidden treasures of the Upper East. These are places and things that can only be discovered on foot. Although you may have driven past these wonderful sights on a regular basis, you'll probably only see them if you park the car and go for a hike...

For example, there is a quaint little public easement that connects Padre Street to the Rose Garden...

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And then there are the many stately homes that can't usually be seen from the road, as they are hidden behind tall hedges. We did a little trick photography to bring you just a glimpse of some the "behind the scenes"...

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This place has an inviting entrance which is way, way up …

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Versus this home which has a drive that one must go way, way down.

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Some of the most beautiful aspects of the Upper East are found in the details of the homes - we find them to be incredibly unique and simply wonderful.

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And since no Urban Hike story would be complete without at least a little bit of history, we were delighted to stumble upon a marker located at Junipero Hall. Until this hike, we never knew it existed. It was placed on the site in1992, and commemorates the 500th anniversary of the arrival of Christopher Columbus to the Americas. It's planned opening is in the year 2092...which means that if you're 20 years old today, you'll be 101 when it's finally opened ... If you're a 30 year-old you will be 111 years old...we don't think anyone older than 30 will get an opportunity to be present at the opening ceremony...but then again you never know...

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Located in that same courtyard (which is at Junipero Serra Hall) we found an example of a beautifully stylized statute of the good padre, himself. We believe this statue truly qualifies as a Santa Barbara hidden treasure.

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Another thing we enjoyed about our hikes on the Upper East is that we saw children out enjoying the day, engaging in good old-fashioned activities - like walking the dogs.

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And riding their bicycles. It was really heartwarming to see ...

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There was yet other aspect of hiking the Upper East that slowed our pace and begged for photographs - it was the number of attractive and interesting garden gates & front doors we passed along the way.

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Aside from the Mission and other obvious landmarks, what is the Upper East best known for? Why, it's the homes of course! We can't possibly show you ALL of the wonderful homes we passed along our route because there are entirely too many to speak of. In fact, we think we feel a "Part II of the Upper East" coming on... But for now, we'll share with you some of the quintessential Upper East "cottages" we passed along the way, starting with one that was built in 1896.

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And in no particular order, we bring you a few more of these remarkable gems.

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While you may think these photos are of the same house, in fact they aren't...they just enjoy the same interesting color scheme (which we think is really gorgeous) ...

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The driftwood in the window of this place makes it oh so Santa Barbara chic ...

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And this is a place we recall having once being named "Tranquility". We love the house and miss the sign.

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Speaking of history, we found a few examples of a bygone era. We believe this sandstone bench was once used by riders of the No. 16 streetcar. Sadly, that was the electric streetcar which tragically crashed at this same corner on Easter Sunday of the year 1907. As the story goes, the streetcar was designed to hold a maximum 48 passengers, but on that day it was packed with 120 riders, most of who had come from mass at the Old Mission. For an unknown reason (but most likely due to the overload), the streetcar lost its brakes, and as it rounded the corner at Mission and Garden Streets, it was traveling far faster that was designed to go. As a result, it derailed, flipped onto its side, and then careened into a utility pole. Five passengers died at the scene and scores were injured, 17 seriously. We saw the bell from the trolley, along with photos and some history of that tragic event when we visited the Santa Barbara Museum during our hike of the Funk Zone.

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And then there are these matching hitching posts on Junipero Plaza, which you know were strategically placed so that revelers of old had plenty of places to park.

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And this unique weathervane is just too darned charming to overlook...

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And try as we may, we simply could not write a story about Santa Barbara's Upper East without including a couple of shots of the Rose Garden and the Old Mission. These locations are so lovely, so pleasing and so quintessentially Santa Barbara, that in our minds we might actually be committing a crime if we failed to include them.

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As always, we encourage you to go on foot and explore our wonderful community, discover new and different things and above all to keep your eyes, ears and minds open in your travels.

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Comments in order of when they were received | (reverse order)

 COMMENT 203591P agree helpful negative off topic

2011-08-13 09:55 AM

Does anyone know if the dark, shingled house is possibly a Greene and Greene house?


 EDONE agree helpful negative off topic

2011-08-13 11:15 AM

Another awesome Urban Hike!

In the early years of Edhat we covered a lot of ground on the upper Eastside.

The Walkway and Junipero Serra Hall were both March Edness pictures.

The Stone Bench was a Where Is It.

And, we counted all the Hitching Posts once. We have pictures of all of them, too. But they are on a map that is out of service. Hopefully we will find time to fix that.


 COMMENT 203645 agree helpful negative off topic

2011-08-13 12:13 PM

i'd like to say that this is my favorite of all your hike chronicles so far...but each one is my favorite. :-) i love your descriptions & photos. the urban hikers are a great example of edhat at its best--thank you for contributing to our community in such a positive way!

and edone, thanks for the memories--the hitching post count was an edhat classic. :-)


 AUNTIE S. agree helpful negative off topic

2011-08-13 01:11 PM

I was hoping you'd include "Tranquillity" in your essay and I'm so glad you did. I lived almost 20 years in that house and we (mostly) raised our kids there. I still love it and miss it and, like you, I mourn the loss of the name over the porch.


 ROGER DODGER agree helpful negative off topic

2011-08-13 01:36 PM

I did research on that Trolley crash many years ago and could have sworn it happened Easter Sunday 1903. The only information I can find on the internet belonged to Walter Tompkins and it says Easter Sunday 1904. When I researched it the information was from old News Press micro film. There was like 125 on board and 7 died in the actual crash. Many were injured and more died after the actual crash. A trolley that may have been the same one was parked next to the Carrage Museum many years ago, it may still be there. I don't know..


 COMMENT 203666 agree helpful negative off topic

2011-08-13 02:04 PM

Absolutely wonderful post! Dying for that doorbell!


 KDEF agree helpful negative off topic

2011-08-13 02:44 PM

The Greene and Greene house is the Nathan Bentz house at 1741 Prospect Avenue. I believe this house is the only Greene and Greene designed house in Santa Barbara. Maybe the Urban Hikers will show it in part II. Has any thought been given to making the Upper East an Historic District? Even without the incentive of a district, the home owners need to be praised for maintaining their properties in pristine condition.


 COMMENT 203726 agree helpful negative off topic

2011-08-13 08:11 PM

Urban Hiker here: So it's settled - we will be doing a Part II of this neighborhood in the future. Not only will we try to determine what Greene & Greene houses there are in the Upper East, we'll also show you more of the well known (and not so well known) landmark homes in this area.

Regarding the date of the streetcar crash - Roger may be right. We got our date from Walker A. Tompkins' Neighborhood Series...he could be wrong though...Neal - where are you when we really need you? We are, after all, hikers and not true historians.


 CHERIDIANE agree helpful negative off topic

2011-08-13 08:19 PM

I would like to add that the Lower Riviera has an area called Bungalow Haven. Their website exists, while not quite up to date, and says, "Enjoying and Protecting our Architectural Heritage." http://www.bungalowhaven.org/ Maybe this area of our beautiful city will be explored at some point.

Yet be assured I want more about the Upper Eastside too. And all else from the Urban Hikers. I love reading the tales of the Urban Hikers and seeing their photos. Love, love, love it.


 COMMENT 203730 agree helpful negative off topic

2011-08-13 08:34 PM

Hey Roger - we Urban Hikers are still in research mode...obviously nothing happening this Saturday night. Guess what??? In a later published work by Mr. Tompkins the date of the streetcar crash is noted to be 1904. The source of this information is the Yankee Barbaraenos. Thank you for the correction.


 COMMENT 203733 agree helpful negative off topic

2011-08-13 10:35 PM

I grew up in the upper east. My father designed Alice Keck Park Park (yep 2 parks) and my mum recently wrote a books about the park called Alice's Garden. The book contains a breif history, however she has a much more extensive history that I'm sure she'd be happy to share. That piece of property has a great history and played a key role in the building height limit we now have in Santa Barbara. The plans for the block prior to the death and subsequent donation to the botanic garden for that property from Alice Keck Park, were to build an 11 story full block size condo/apartment complex.

You can reach me at Katie_hatch@earthlink.net

There are other great stories about my old hood.

Also, the Pearl Chase society does tours of the homes in the area every year, and they have research on many of the homes. The Castle house on the corner of Garden and Pedregosa was one of the homes on the tour this year.

There is also a great public easement at the top of Pedregosa (prior to the hard right turn). It takes you up steep steps to the street above, and dumps you out onto APS across from the Riviera Theater.

And I LoVe the urban hiker series !!! My fav on Edhat along with the scanner reports :-)


 COMMENT 203734 agree helpful negative off topic

2011-08-13 10:39 PM

Oh- one more note on the street cars. When the city was digging up the street at garden / Isley for the traffic calming blog, the res brick road from the days of old were uncovered. They seem completely intact- like the asphalt was just smeared over the top. And in the center of the road, directly under the blob, webcould see the street car rails. - it was very cool. I didn't know the steer cars went up garden until seeing that.


 TROLLEY TOM agree helpful negative off topic

2011-08-14 08:45 AM

Since 100% of comments were from subscribers, there seemed to be a beautiful tone of civility...I like that.


 COMMENT 203757 agree helpful negative off topic

2011-08-14 08:51 AM

So glad you included the Mission in your story. You are right that no story about the Upper East would be complete without a photo of the Mission. I have lived in SB my whole life and in my opinion the Mission is by far the most uniquely Santa Barbara structure we have. Thank you urban hikers for the virtual tour of this fantastic part of town. I love your posts. I love them a lot.


 COMMENT 203758 agree helpful negative off topic

2011-08-14 09:00 AM

The City maintains a database of buildings and other structures that are eligible for designation as historic resources. Over 150 of them are in the Upper East!

Many of these resources are already designated as eligible for the National Register of Historic Places and/or the California Register of Historic Places.

The Upper East Association, the neighborhood association for the area, has 200 households as members. We publish a monthly email newsletter to members and distribute a printed newsletter to every residence once a year, in September.

Residents of the Upper East who are not yet members are invited to join. Call 563-1187 to request more information and an application form.


 SBALAX agree helpful negative off topic

2011-08-14 09:21 AM


I don't know the easement you mentioned. Are you talking about the one from the top of Sierra -- a series of ramps and stairs -- that puts you on APS across from the Riviera Campus? As far as I know, there isn't one from Pedregosa.

There are a number of these "paseos" on the Riviera including a double one from APS to Paterna (?) to Lasuen.

We lived a couple of houses down Padre Street from the walkway through to the Rose Garden. For awhile there was a neighbor who would yell at people and tell them to get off of "her" property. You also need to watch out for dog poop on all of the walkways.


 COMMENT 203770 agree helpful negative off topic

2011-08-14 09:57 AM

Another great article! Thank you. It would be great to know a little history of the Rose Garden. I remember hearing that it almost didn't survive once due to drought and budget cuts. I believe a man and his wife took care of it during that time and started the volunteer program that exists today. You might be able to get info from the SB Rose Society or if you go to the Garden on Thursday mornings talk to Robert who works for the city. He is very knowledgeable and truly cares about the Garden.


 COMMENT 203778 agree helpful negative off topic

2011-08-14 10:55 AM

So beautiful. This was one of the neighborhoods I favored when my family moved to SB, but they wanted the new and modern, with room for horses, so I didn't get my wish.

The lovely house they built has long since been torn down for a McMansion, and here is Upper East just putting along the same as ever.

Thank you, hikers. With your photos I can feel "being there" once again, maybe visiting a classmate or (eek) in the early days of my driving, going down toward SB High for school with Dad in the passenger seat, trying to be calm.


 COMMENT 203787 agree helpful negative off topic

2011-08-14 11:13 AM

This is a very special area of SB, and one I enjoy walking whenever I can...and will appreciate even more now. Thank you, Urban Hikers!


 FLICKA agree helpful negative off topic

2011-08-14 11:27 AM

I had an elderly friend whose grand-father, Francisco Dominquez, was killed in the infamous 1904 Easter Sunday streetcar accident. My grandmother was 13 at the time and said she usually went to mass at the mission, she didn't remember why she wasn't there that Sunday but said she'd have been on the streetcar.It was definately overloaded and the driver (he was killed) was known for going too fast, although it could have been the brakes. When my grandmother's little brother died a short time later, my great-grandmother couldn't afford a burial so her friend, the widow of the driver, had her husband's grave opened up and the little boy buried with him.


 ROGER DODGER agree helpful negative off topic

2011-08-14 10:18 PM

Does anyone know if the trolly is still next to the Carrage Museum ? Many years ago I worked there one night pulling guard duty during Fiesta to watch the floats. I was supposed to be there 3 nights but after the first night scared outta my wits I wasn't going back..I did research on the trolley and wrote a story called The Trolley which was never published. Thank You, Stace.


 COMMENT 203938P agree helpful negative off topic

2011-08-15 07:02 AM

Too bad you can't walk through the seminary property anymore because of the new fencing.


 COMMENT 203968 agree helpful negative off topic

2011-08-15 08:30 AM

Beautiful post, Urban Hikers. Your photos continue to illustrate that amorphous concept that I am always trying to communicate to SB visitors: it has to do with the complete uniqueness combined with pride of ownership of each and every SB house and home. It's something I've never seen quite so fully in any other city.


 COMMENT 203994 agree helpful negative off topic

2011-08-15 09:35 AM

The easement near the Rose Garden is the path the Chumash took from their village near the Mission and the village located closer to the beach. I understand the path continued down Laguna.


 COMMENT 227139 agree helpful negative off topic

2011-10-27 06:27 PM

When you do Part 2, I hope you'll talk about the wall just north of the wall that the Stone Bench is in. I've been told that it surrounded an estate that encompassed the whole block and was built about 1905 by Italian stonemasons brought here for the purpose. There's might be some connection between the Hollisters and the estate.


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