The City of Santa Cruz is proud of its heritage and has developed a historic preservation program to protect and enhance its resources. Information is provided below regarding five historic area walking tours, the City Historic Building Survey and historic districts. For additional information, please contact the City Planning and Community Development Department at 831-420-5416.
Historic Area Walking Tours
Five self-guided historic walking tours have been produced. Each tour takes 45-90 minutes. Click on the links below to download PDF versions of each brochure.
Mission Hill. The Mission Hill District was included on the National Register of Historic Places for the following reasons: it is the birthplace of Santa Cruz, the first permanent European settlement in Santa Cruz County; until the gold rush, it was the religious, commercial, industrial, and agricultural center of the County; and, it was pre-eminent in the Spanish-Native American and Mexican periods and important during the American period of history. It is important to note that the area of the mission complex was a prehistoric site of local Indian habitation some time prior to the construction of the mission.
Walnut Avenue. Walnut Avenue is one of the most beautiful streets in the City. Its uninterrupted Victorian buildings and mature tree cover make it a most enjoyable walk. It makes up the northern portion of the Downtown Neighborhood National Register Historic District. Building ages range from 1870 to 1938.
Ocean View. Ocean View Avenue, opened in 1871, is a grand street with many large fine houses built by two groups of people - wealthy year-round residents of San Jose and Central Valley residents who wanted fine summer houses.
Beach Hill. This area's history is linked to the history of transportation. The change from shipping to railroad to automobile is reflected in the buildings, from sea captain's cottages to mansions to bungalows.
Downtown. This tour displays sixteen unique buildings that define the character of the downtown,
including eleven buildings that survived the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake and five replacement structures.
Cowell Lime Works. The Cowell Lime Works District encompasses some 30 acres at the main entrance to the University of California Santa Cruz at the intersection of High and Bay Streets. The district includes four lime kilns, the cookhouse, cooperage, hay barn, Cardiff House, worker cabins and many other building and structures from the 19th century. Lime is made by heating limerock (limestone or marble) in kilns. Most of the lime made here was used in building construction. It was mixed with sand and water to make mortar and plaster. In the 1800s masonry construction, such as foundations, fireplaces, chimneys, walls and brick and stone buildings, relied on lime mortar. Lime was essential to the development of the Golden State during the second half of the nineteenth century.