Santa Monica Boulevard

Although Santa Monica Boulevard is obviously called that because it leads to Santa Monica, it had some identity crises along the way. Indeed, in Santa Monica itself, it was known as Oregon Avenue until 1912. And through West Hollywood – then the town of Sherman – it was called Sherman Avenue until 1923. And don’t get me started on how Exposition Boulevard was once named Santa Monica Avenue, as was a portion of Sunset Boulevard! As for the city’s etymology, Saint Monica (c. 332-387) was the mother of Saint Augustine. It’s long been claimed that her name anointed this region during the 1769 Portolá Expedition, with the explorers arriving here on her feast day (May 4th) and discovering flowing springs (West L.A.’s Kuruvungna Springs) that resembled her watery eyes, ever-weeping for her son. Nice try, but Father Juan Crespi‘s diaries from the expedition established the “Pools of Santa Mónica” in Baja California, near present-day Ensenada; the group didn’t reach this area until three months later. Regardless, the saint’s name was formalized here in two 1839 land grants: Rancho San Vicente y Santa Monica and Rancho Boca de Santa Monica, both of which wound up in the hands of the Sepúlvedas, who sold the land to Senator John P. Jones (R-NV) and Robert Baker in 1872. In 1874, there was serious talk of naming their new town “Truxton“, but Jones and Baker established it the following year as Santa Monica.