Encinitas Neighborhood Information (from YourNorthCounty.com)
Old Encinitas – The Old Encinitas neighborhood of Encinitas is where you will find the Encinitas Historical Society, City Hall and the historic downtown area. It is also the home of Swami’s Beach, Moonlight Beach, the San Diego Botanic Garden and the Self Realization Fellowship – to name just a few North County attractions that call Old Encinitas home. The community is known for its laidback surf culture, local shops and eateries, community events, great beaches and good schools.
As is expected in a beach community with this much character, home prices are higher here than in many areas of San Diego County. However, this is also the kind of neighborhood where locals are willing to pay a premium to live a coveted lifestyle in a great location. The Old Encinitas area has been influenced through history by indigenous inhabitants, the Mission Era and the Rancho Era, during which it was part of Rancho de Los Encinitos. When the rancho was divided into Las Encinitas Rancho and Rancho Dieguito, the five neighborhoods that make up modern-day Encinitas became part of Las Encinitas Rancho.
The historic downtown area first began in 1881 when a water tower was erected near Cottonwood Creek to provide water for the railroad. Founded by John Pitcher and Tom Rattan (both Civil War veterans), the streets of Encinitas were also laid out that same year, and the town was officially established two years later. Also in 1883, the old school house was built to accommodate the eight students in the area, which was later moved and made into a home and now houses the Encinitas Historical Society. While this area is home to some of the oldest buildings in Encinitas, which date back to the late 1880s, the 1920s is when Old Encinitas really saw a building boom and became home to some of the historic landmarks that still stand today. This includes the Daley Double Saloon which was constructed in 1928; the Bessie Love compound, which was built in 1926; the boathouses, which were built in 1927; and La Paloma Theatre, which was built in 1927, opened in 1928 and was one of the first movie theaters to show talking movies, rather than just silent films.
During the 1920s, Moonlight Beach also became a popular hangout where locals would picnic and race horses. During this same decade, bootleggers would use this beach as a dropping off point for illegal liquor during the Prohibition Era. Like many coastal towns in Southern California, Encinitas has ties to Hollywood. One of the most notable of which is that Charlie Chaplin purchased a home in the downtown area for his mother in 1925. Sidney Chaplin, Charlie’s brother, also owned land in the area, including what is now known as the Sidney Chaplin Building on South Coast Highway 101. Several buildings that were constructed during the 1920s and 1930s are still standing, and it is well worth taking one of the self-guided or docent-led walking tours offered by the Encinitas Historical Society to learn more about the area and its history. There is also a good list of historic buildings and information available from the Encinitas 101 MainStreet Association. Learn even more about Old Encinitas on YourNorthCountry.com’s Old Encinitas page.
New Encinitas – New Encinitas shares the small-town charm of other Encinitas communities, but has more of a suburban feel with many newer homes, homeowners associations, condominium communities and large shopping centers. After the Mission Era, the area that is now known as New Encinitas became part of Rancho de Los Encinitos. This rancho was later divided into two separate ranchos: Las Encinitas Rancho and Rancho Dieguito.
New Encinitas (and the other four neighborhoods that make up present-day Encinitas) was part of Las Encinitas Rancho. Over the years, many types of produce were grown in this area; however, it is flower fields for which Encinitas is particularly well known. In fact, some call it a flower growing capital. Many of the housing developments we see today were built where flowers were once grown, including the land that was once part of the Ecke Ranch, where the Ecke family helped make poinsettias a household name and a must-have Christmas plant. Learn even more about New Encinitas on YourNorthCountry.com’s New Encinitas page.
Olivenhain – Olivenhain (German for olive grove) is the eastern-most neighborhood in the City of Encinitas and offers upscale country living just a short drive from downtown. Walking and riding trails meander through the neighborhood, and historic landmarks dot the landscape to remind residents of the Colony Olivenhain that once called this land home.
After the Mission Era, the area that is now Olivenhain became part of Rancho de Los Encinitos. This rancho was later divided into Rancho Las Encinitas and Rancho San Dieguito. After Rancho Las Encinitas was lost to foreclosure in 1800, it changed hands twice to come under the ownership of the Kimball brothers. Their intention was to find a group of immigrants interested in purchasing the land to form a colony-like community and, in 1884, their marketing efforts paid off when Theodore Pinther expressed interest in putting together a colony on the land. There were just seven original colony members in May of 1884, but their numbers grew quickly, and a total of 67 members traveled by train from Denver to Olivenhain to settle the land. Folks of any nationality were welcome to join – as long as they spoke German fluently – but the members were not interested in allowing gamblers, insurance agents or lawyers. The colonists all crammed into the only three buildings on the property until land distribution and the construction of homes began in January of 1885.
The vast majority of the original homes built in the community were less-expensive shanties, but some more well-to-do families built more elaborate homes, such as the Germania Hotel built by Herman Baecht. The Germania Hotel and one of the original shanties are still standing today and can be seen on the Town Hall and Meeting Hall properties, respectively. It did not take long for colonists to become suspicious of Theodore Pinther after hearing rumors that they were paying well over market value for the undeveloped land on which they were building their colony. According to these rumors, Pinther was getting commission from the Kimball brothers, and after this was confirmed by the Kimball brothers themselves, Pinther was kidnapped and held until he confessed to his unsavory deeds. After Pinther was ran out of town, the colonists and the Kimball brothers came to a new agreement and a new contract was signed. This document was finalized on July 8, 1885, and Colony Olivenhain was officially founded. With this early trouble and a lack of water on the land, many of the farms within the colony were abandoned within just a couple of years, but some of the colonists stayed in the area to homestead nearby land. Some of the descendants of the original colonists and homesteaders still live in Olivenhain today.
Although this community has had its ups and downs throughout the years and was a bit behind the curve when it came to acquiring some of the modern conveniences we consider essential today, it continued to expand and develop into the upscale neighborhood we now know and love. Early colonists were committed to maintaining a close-knit community with controlled growth and community meetings where all members could participate in important decisions. Current residents remain committed to preserving their rural way of life and continue to hold Town Council meetings that are open to all Olivenhain residents. In fact, these monthly meetings are even held in Olivenhain’s original Meeting Hall, which was built by colonists and first used for a colony meeting in March of 1895. The Olivenhain Town Meeting Hall was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1993. Olivenhain remained an independent unincorporated area for more than 100 years before becoming part of the City of Encinitas in 1986. If you would like to learn more about the history of Olivenhain, there is an incredibly detailed account of how the colony came to be and how it grew over the years at Olivenhain.org. Learn even more about Olivenhain on YourNorthCountry.com’s Olivenhain page.
Leucadia – Eclectic. Funky. Hip. Happening. The Leucadia neighborhood of Encinitas just might be the only place you will ever see a mosaic of Our Lady of Guadalupe on a surfboard on the side of a building, but the Surfing Madonna is not all that makes this coastal community unique. A strong surf culture and a dedication to keeping Leucadia funky ensure that this community will remain vibrant, active and diverse. Art galleries, locally owned restaurants, quaint coffee shops, mom and pop shops and – of course – an abundance of surf shops – line the streets, and with plenty of public art, community events and local hangouts, it is easy to see why this is one surfside retreat where tourists often long to be locals. It’s not cheap to live here, but long-time residents and newcomers alike will tell you that living the Leucadia lifestyle every day is worth every penny.
The earliest known inhabitants of the land that is now the Leucadia neighborhood of Encinitas were the Kumeyaay Indians. As with other areas in Southern California, the area was explored and claimed by Spain, and was significantly influenced by the Mission Era. When Mexico gained independence from Spain in 1821, the Rancho Era began, and the Leucadia area became part of Rancho de Los Encinitos. The rancho was later divided into San Dieguito Rancho and Las Encinitas Rancho. San Dieguito Rancho became Rancho Santa Fe, as it is known today, and Las Encinitas Rancho eventually became home to the five communities that now make up Encinitas.
After California became part of the United States, the land was bought and sold several times and was settled by a Civil War Veteran named Nathan Eaton and English spiritualists, who are usually credited for giving the area the name Leucadia and giving Roman and Greek names to the streets. However, the town was originally registered as Merle, and some say that the Greek and Roman names came from developers who failed at their plan to create a Greek-style resort area. The area was once well known for growing flowers and avocados but, while flower fields and avocado groves can still be found throughout Encinitas, much of the land has been subdivided and developed into residential neighborhoods.
As is true of many coastal communities in North County, many celebrities have stopped in Leucadia en route between Hollywood and San Diego, the Del Mar Racetrack or Mexico. However, as you would expect from Leucadia, the stories of celebrities in these parts have a bit more flavor – like the time John Wayne reportedly broke up a fight in the parking lot of the old Shamrock Café. For more than 100 years, Leucadia was known as its own entity, but this unincorporated area officially became part of the City of Encinitas in 1986. Learn even more about Leucadia on YourNorthCountry.com’s Leucadia page.
Cardiff-by-the-Sea – Home to the San Elijo Lagoon, the Cardiff Kook, an arts community and a surfing culture, the laidback, friendly community of Cardiff-by-the-Sea is the perfect place for a weekend getaway or to enjoy coastal living throughout the year. Cardiff-by-the-Sea – often simply referred to as Cardiff – has two miles of pristine coastline, beautiful cliffs, some of the best sunsets in North County San Diego and, unlike other Encinitas neighborhoods, its own zip code. Residents here enjoy great weather every month of the year, several annual community events and all of the benefits of living by the sea, and they are dedicated to preserving both their quality of life and the natural beauty that makes Cardiff such a fantastic place to live.
After the Mission Era and the division of land into ranchos, the area that would later become Cardiff-by-the-Sea was cultivated into farmland by Hector MacKinnon who brought his family here from Cleveland in 1875. Hector and his wife, Sarah, grew corn and barley and raised cows and chickens on the land. In 1910, a painter from Boston named J. Frank Cullen moved to San Diego and saw Cardiff’s potential to be developed as a coastal retreat for other folks headed west. Cullen purchased the land from MacKinnon and began selling plots of land for as little as $30. It is told that Cullen initially wanted to give his little town a Spanish name but was persuaded by his Cardiff-born wife to name the area after her hometown in Wales. According to Cardiff101.com, it may have been a German musician named Victor Kremer who was developing the area above Birmingham who added “by-the-Sea” to Cardiff’s name and that it may have been taken from the song “By the Beautiful Sea.” In 1912, Clarence Cole established a kelp works along the bluffs of San Elijo Lagoon, which provided the area with an industry other than farming. This same year, Cullen built an ocean pier and a hotel overlooking the ocean. This was followed by the establishment of the Cardiff School District in 1913, the first Cardiff library opening in 1914, and the addition of a post office and train station in the 1920s. Learn even more about Cardiff on YourNorthCountry.com’s Cardiff page.
101 S. Rancho Santa Fe Road / Encinitas, CA 92024
(760) 944-4300 / FAX (760) 942-7094 / www.eusd.k12.ca.us
5951 Village Center Loop Road / San Diego, CA 92130
Phone: (858) 350-0253 / Fax: (858) 350-0280 / www.sduhsd.net
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