1980: In A Nutshell: Coastside Architectural Styles

From “Coastside Cultural Resources of San Mateo County”

Montara..Moss Beach…El Granada…Princeton-by-the-Sea…Miramar

“These communities were established on the Mid-Coast between 1906 and 1909 during the real estate boom that followed the construction of the Ocean Shore Railroad. Speculators quickly subdivided the lands along the new rail line, expecting a real estate boom to follow in its tracks. This never took place. Few of the subdivided lots were developed during the first half of this century.

“By 1950, the Mid-Coast population was only 1,700 residents. During the next two decades, however, the population more than doubled to 4,000.

“As buildable land on the Bayside disappeared, many contractors discovered the abundance of vacant subdivided lots in the community. A small building boom resulted and by 1979 over 6,500 persons resided in the area.

Because mos development occurred during a relatively short time span and houses were built by contractors for speculation, rather than by owners for their personal use, the general appearance of the housing is quite undistinctive and lacking in architectural quality. A majority of the newer houses however, have been constructed of natural wood. They blend nicely with the wooded physical setting and provide a design unity which did not exist in the past.

“Bounded by sea and mountains, the most scenic aspect of the community is its natural setting. Trees, although not native to the area, also play an important role in contributing to the scenic beauty. In portions of Montara and Moss Beach, rows of cypress were planted along the roadways and in many areas canopies of green now arch over the streets. Thousands of eucalyptus were planted on the hillside which surrounds El Granada and today a mighty forest shelters much of the town.

“A unique feature of El Granada is its Beaux-Arts design street pattern. Radial and semi-circular streets, and divided landscaped boulevards give the community a distinctive style which is unparalleled in the County. The plan was designed by Daniel Burnham, the famous architect and city planner. Burnham was in San Francisco during 1905 and 1906 working on a plan for the City and was hired by the Ocean Shore Railroad to design the town as a Coastside attraction.

“El Granada was planned as a model community and seaside resort with hotels and casinos to rival Atlantic City and Long Beach. Advertisements of the era promoting its values refer to it as the “magnificent Burnham City.”

“Princeton-by-the-Sea, like El Granada, was originally planned as an ocean resort. It never developed, however. Today the Princeton area adjacent to Pillar Point Harbor is primarily an industrial area for boat building and related activities. Along Capistrano Road, at the harbor’s entrance, restaurants and other commercial uses are starting to develop. In time, Princeton could evolve into an attractive recreation center. It may be that Princeton will yet achieve its original dream of becoming an ocean resort catering to the needs of Coastside visitors.”

…more coming…