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Santa Monica's always been considered a great resort town, thanks to its beautiful weather year-round and oceanside location. It's been said that the city was originally named for Saint Monica of Hippo, because the Spaniards first visited on her feast day. Today the city is known for a variety of different things - such as progressive politics and an active skate/surf community, as well as the continuing issue of an ever-growing homeless population. The city has several miles of very nice beaches, and a pleasant bike path that hugs the sand starting in Santa Monica and goes south through venice and the Marina.
Notable facts about Santa Monica's history:
In the early 1900s, amusement piers were all the rage and five were built in Santa Monica, as well as others down the coast (including one in Venice). The 1909 Santa Monica Pier is the only one left standing.
The 1920s were good to Santa Monica - the population more than doubled from 15,000 to 32,000. Much construction occured during this time, including the building of the Critterion Theater and the Miramar Hotel. It is also believed that beach volleyball was first played in Santa Monica at this time. Will Rogers bought up a lot of land in the city at this time and upon his death, he deeded much of the land to the public. This became the Will Rogers State Park, State Beach and Historic Park.
The 1930s weren't so kind, with the Depression and corruption hitting the city. However, the city and its residents rebounded in the coming years to open the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium in 1958 - where hundreds and thousands of notable musicians and actors have performed. Later on in the '70s, the fitness craze hit - Joe Gold began opening his infamous World Gym chain and even the ubiquitous Jane Fonda got in on the action, opening an aerobic studio in the area.
Also in the '70s, politics became a big issue. Rent Control laws were established (although not everyone follows these rules today) among others. During the '80s, the Santa Monica Pier was hit and nearly destroyed by strong storms, but although the rebuilding of the Pier cost a hefty fee, it was worth the effort as the Pier remains an iconic image of Santa Monica.
These days, Santa Monica is home to many affluent and celebrity residents, as well as the lucky few who still manage to have a rent-controlled apartment. However, the homeless population remains a controversial problem as the amount of homeless living along the beach and streets continue to grow at unprecedented rates. Many people want to drive the homeless out of Santa Monica although activists continue to push for ways to help the homeless.