About Santa Cruz
Santa Cruz overlooks the Monterey Bay from the foothills of the forested mountains to the north. The narrow winding streets of the two hundred-year-old city line the coast while newer development extends along the coast and into the mountains. The San Lorenzo River flows into the ocean at the heart of the city and cliffs line the beaches. The west coast's last remaining seaside amusement park sits next to the river.
Spanish explorer Don Gaspar de Portola discovered the site of Santa Cruz, naming both it and the San Lorenzo River. In 1791 Father Fermin de Lasuen established the Mission Santa Cruz. Villa de Branciforte was settled across the river. When the territory passed from Mexico to the United States in 1849, Santa Cruz became the county seat of its county, which has the same name.
Because of the beautiful scenery, mild climate and sandy beaches, Santa Cruz has grown into a resort city. Traditional-style shops still line the downtown streets.
54,593 people live in Santa Cruz, as of the year 2000. California Highway 1 passes through from east to west, following the coast, and California Highway 17 leads north through the mountains to San Jose.