Ah Fook may be the biggest, most badass ghost in Santa Cruz County history. A hungry ghost? Raised during a time in local history when immigrants of Chinese descent were branded as subhuman or worse, the person—or more accurately the character —who today we call Ah Fook, or Cheung Ah Fook, witnessed an ugly brew of hatred, racism, violence and xenophobia that cast him and others in his community to the shadowy margins of 19 th -century Santa Cruz society. So much for subtleties.
The details of Hihn's life and his business dealings can be found on a superb biographical web site created by UC Santa Cruz librarian Stanley Stevens. The foundation for the Santa Cruz growth coalition was created in early February, when one of the first Euro-American entrepreneurs to reach the area after the United States took California away from Mexico, a year-old blacksmith from Indiana, Elihu Anthony, bought 15 acres of vacant government land a few hundred feet from the swift-flowing San Lorenzo River.
Santa cruz sentinel, volume , , 3 july
Although Anthony and several of the men who purchased land from him in the downtown area remained at the heart of the growth coalition well into the s, the most successful growth entrepreneur was a young German immigrant, Frederick Hihn. After Hihn arrived in California, he spent two years selling candy in the mining area and running a hotel in Sacramento, dating Santa Cruz born chinese 50 miles from the major gold mines, and another year managing his own drug store in San Francisco, which he lost when much of the young city burned to the ground in He arrived in Santa Cruz that same year and built a general merchandise store on a lot purchased from Anthony.
Some of Hihn's most important battles from the s to the s concerned bringing railro through Santa Cruz to ensure that it was not bypassed. Hihn and the many smaller landowners in and around Santa Cruz needed a railroad to transport timber and limestone from their mountain landholdings, and they wanted a railroad with connections to San Francisco and San Jose to bring in tourists from inland cities. One of Hihn's most interesting developments was the little tourist resort of Capitola.
The Capitola Museum maintains an excellent web siteincluding a pictorial history of the areafrom its days as a campground in the s to its last good days as a tourist area in the s. Serving as the leading member of the county's Railroad Commission, which led him to have frequent conversations with representatives of the Southern Pacific, Hihn believed that its owners were firm in their plan to run their San Francisco to Los Angeles line along the coast and through Santa Cruz, which would all but guarantee the future growth of the city.
Instead, the growth coalition suddenly faced a major threat to its interests in when the Southern Pacific unexpectedly decided to by-pass Santa Cruz by building on the San Jose side of the mountains, where much of the land was still government owned, making it possible to take advantage of federal land grants to acquire right-of-way. Hihn immediately fought back by bringing together a large consortium of investors, mostly local, to build a railroad from Santa Cruz to the area near Watsonville where the Southern Pacific planned its new station.
When the first train on the new Santa Cruz Railroad finally made its journey from Watsonville to Santa Cruz in May,the Sentinel editor poetically heralded this triumph for the local growth coalition: "At last our enterprising young city is in full connection with the rest of mankind. At last she is free from the rule of the sleepy stage coach" SentinelMay 13,p.
While all this maneuvering and construction were going on south of Santa Cruz, Hihn caught a lucky break when two prominent San Francisco capitalists decided to build another railroad, the South Pacific Coast, through the mountains north of the city to compete with the Southern Pacific. Originating from the Oakland side of the San Francisco Bay, the mile railroad required eight tunnels dating Santa Cruz born chinese two of them a mile long — that were built by low-wage Chinese workers, 37 of whom lost their lives in the process.
Due to the new railro and increased market access, Santa Cruz grew at a fast pace during the s. It seemed likely that the good times would continue for decades when the South Pacific Coast opened injust in time to give the Southern Pacific a run for its money. The South Pacific Coast had a slightly faster and far more scenic route, but the competition was nonetheless very even, with both lines bringing about 2, passengers to Santa Cruz on July 4,for example.
But by the late s, just when the growth coalition seemed to have engineered an ideal balance between industry and tourism with a big assist from San Francisco capitaliststhe city slowly began to lose its industrial base. The redwoods and other prime timber had been projected to last for years, but they lasted less than 60, turning into housing, telephone poles, railroad ties, and fences much faster than anticipated. The increasing scarcity of tan-oaks, combined with a decline in cattle raising in the area, led to a shrinkage of the tanning industry to one company by As for the limestone industry, it reached its peak production in and gradually declined because the construction industry, spurred by the massive damage to buildings in San Francisco during the earthquake, began to use stronger and longer-lasting cement and concrete materials.
Technological advances in harnessing steam and electric power also meant industrial decline for Santa Cruz because saw mills and paper mills were no longer dependent upon river currents.
Now they could move to larger cities, where demand was higher and there were larger labor pools. The blasting powder and gunpowder company, with the madrone and alder trees depleted and by then owned by the DuPont Corporationmoved its operations to a plant north of Oakland in With the railro fully constructed, and the Southern Pacific having no need for local equipment makers and repair shops, the foundries declined or disappeared as well.
InSanta Cruz County was second only to San Francisco County in industrial production in California, but by it was already down to 14th in the list of 58 counties, and by it was 18th. So tourism became the main industry in Santa Cruz.
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Its main promoter was Fred Swanton, who was the third person, after Anthony and Hihn, who exemplified the general development of the Santa Cruz growth coalition. Born in Brooklyn inSwanton came to Santa Cruz as a young boy, where his father later built the first three-story hotel and included him as a business partner. He went on to make and lose fortunes in two ambitious ventures — the first hydroelectric plant in the West and the first commercial telephone system in the state of California.
Starting in with the acquisition of bathhouses from an early pioneer of the Santa Cruz tourism industry, he soon created the Santa Cruz Beach, Cottage, and Tent City Corporation in order to add small overnight dwellings to his holdings. You can about Swanton's various tourism efforts here ; this site also includes many old photos of the Boardwalk area.
Shortly thereafter, Swanton expanded into a casino, rides, and a pinball arcade; after a of setbacks, including a massive fire inhis venture would eventually evolve into the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. Taking advantage of connections with people he knew from his business ventures, Swanton was able to entice many notable people to vacation in Santa Cruz, including President Teddy Roosevelt, whose highly publicized visit in proved to be a boon to the tourist industry.
To further help with his tub-thumping for Santa Cruz, the Southern Pacific Railroad provided Swanton with special booster trains that he personally rode to every city within several hundred miles, featuring brass bands and other forms of hoopla and honky-tonk. He loved to hobnob with the celebrities of the day and tried to make Santa Cruz an attractive place for the new movie industry. The Great Depression of the s hurt Santa Cruz, as it did every other city, but not as badly as might have thanks to a new low-cost "Suntan Special" excursion train that the Southern Pacific instituted in as a way to make use of its commuter passenger cars on Sundays and holidays.
Leaving in the early morning from San Francisco, with stops in Palo Alto and San Jose, the packed trains had a festive atmosphere as they snaked through the curves and tunnels of the Santa Cruz Mountains. They arrived at the beach and boardwalk just before noon to be greeted by a big brass band, and then left the city at 5 p. As many as 5, to 7, people enjoyed this sightseeing and sunbathing trip each Sunday during the depression years, arriving in up to seven different trains. There, you can learn about the "pre-history" of the Boardwalk, view dozens of historical photosand dating Santa Cruz born chinese an excellent history of the boardwalk by Andy Schiffrin, one of the most important progressive activists from to the present.
Warning: the link plays calliope music! UC Santa Cruz: a jump-start for growth? For more general information about the university, including photos and interesting facts, see our separate about UCSC.
History of santa cruz
The tourism boom didn't last forever. Santa Cruz was a lagging city in the late s when the Board of Regents of the University of California announced in October of that it intended to expand the six-campus university system by adding three new campuses — one near San Diego, one near Los Angeles, and one miles south of the San Francisco Bay Area in the area that is called the Central Coast.
Well aware that there were several potential sites in Santa Cruz County, the local growth coalition pulled every string it could to win the bidding for the new campus. Its leaders decided that acres from the old Henry Cowell limestone and ranch lands, in conjunction with undeveloped acres just below the ranch, would be an attractive package, but despite enormous lobbying for Santa Cruz the Regents made a preliminary decision in December in favor of a site south of San Jose that had the advantage of proximity to the newly-emerging electronics industry in what soon came to be known as Silicon Valley.
The Santa Cruz boosters persevered by drawing on their connections as graduates of the Berkeley campus to convince the Regents to reopen the question and entertain a revised proposal. Now all the land would be on the old Cowell Ranch, so the Regents would not have to deal with several different landowners.
When the pluses of a Santa Cruz location and the strong pressures by the Santa Cruz representatives in the state legislature were stacked up against the problems that might develop if a San Jose location were chosen, the scales tipped in Santa Cruz's favor in December Within a week of the final decision, city and county officials met with representatives from the university to set a timetable for construction of the campus and access ro for an opening in September In what turned out, in hindsight, to be a fateful political decision that undermined the local power structure, the city council agreed to put those parts of the vast campus that were to be developed in the first 20 years inside the Santa Cruz city limits, to make it easier to provide water and other utilities.
With the campus planned for 27, students bythe city leaders were overjoyed because they thought the city would grow from 25, in toin Land values would increase immensely; plans were made to attract new industries and build office buildings.
Or at least, that was the plan.
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Learn more about what happened in the next document, "Progressive Politics in Santa Cruz". William Domhoffunless otherwise noted. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited. Please direct technical questions regarding this Web site to Adam Schneider. Info for students reading Who Rules America? The Class-Domination Theory of Power. Interlocks and Interactions Among the Power Elite. Interlocking Directorates in the Corporate Community. Federal Advisory Committees.
Diversity in the Corporate Elite. Diversity in Congress: Who Represents America? The Rise and Fall of Diversity at the Top, Diversity in Presidential Cabinets. The Role of Elite Education in the U. Corporate Elite. Can Corporate Power Be Controlled?
Building a Liberal-Left Alliance. Left and Right in Thinking, Personality, and Politics.
The Ford Foundation in the Inner City. Santa Cruz: The Leftmost City. Basics of Studying Power. Power Structure Research and the Hope for Democracy. Four Networks Theory. Teaching about Corporate Power London et al.
Teaching Who Rules America? Progressive Politics in Santa Cruz.
History of Santa Cruz. Capitola One of Hihn's most interesting developments was the little tourist resort of Capitola. Fred Swanton You can about Swanton's various tourism efforts here ; this site also includes many old photos of the Boardwalk area. A "Suntan Special" arrives from the Bay Area [enlarge]. The former Cowell Ranch [enlarge].