I had long planned on blog-walking the Brinkerhoff Avenue Landmark District, where the charm is off the charts. But it’s only a couple of blocks, so I decided to cover the crook of Highway 101, with De La Guerra and Chapala as the other edges of the wedge. It’s sort of the Lower West of downtown. Because I have a tendency to swap opposites, however, all the photo files in this post actually call it Lower East. I used to worry about mixing such words up, but if there’s one nice thing about getting older, it’s the knowledge that things could really be much worse.
I parked on Bath Street, by the freeway off-ramp and generally wandered [doublechecks] west to east.
First impression: does anyone else think Swell is an odd name for a fitness facility? Isn’t swell what your tissues do when they’re hurt?
Third impression: This is an old neighborhood, which means established trees. The last one is thique. I actually have no idea whether I’m using that properly, but I was hell-bent on getting in a reference to Beyoncé’s terrific new album.
The freeway creates many cul-de-sacs, three of which are just one block long (i.e., “avenues” in Santa Barbara parlance): Dibblee, Ruth, and Transfer. The “slow child” sign struck me as unnecessary, because how fast can you even go on such a short street?
I walked all the itty-bitty streets in the wedge—even the one marked public alley, until I discovered it wasn’t a through street, like in Oak Park. I did come across a glittery E on the pavement there, which felt serendipitous because my name is Erik. (If you’re one of the people who assume I’m a woman because I’ve mentioned my husband, you are way behind the times.)
Normally, I love a pedestrian overpass, like the one at Ortega, but the afternoon sun was brutal. I walked it anyway, of course. The birds are by David Shelton, brother of Jeff.
I don’t recall these street markers in other neighborhoods (at least not yet). (Update: “There are more of those street markers!” says DC. “In the area around De La Vina near Pueblo and Los Olivos, you’ll even see ones with street names that are no longer.”)
Finally, the Brinkerhoff Avenue Landmark District, the heart of which is Brinkerhoff Avenue. Such marvelous houses! The turquoise one has “OGLE” on the front door, as if the color isn’t invitation enough. (The Independent wrote about its history in 2020.)
Bradbury Avenue is sort of a sister street to Brinkerhoff, but some regrettable decision-making allowed two awful buildings to butt in. It’s still worth a walk though, in good part for 124 W. Cota (discussed here, and famous for the exterior catwalk between floors) and the bungalow court at 610-612 Bradbury (discussed here).
The area’s zoning must be a bit higgledy-piggledy, for there are businesses mixed in throughout. The Independent dug into the history of 501 Chapala, directly below, in 2016. The “Our Slice of Paradise” mural at International Autohaus (a name that must be said with an accent), is stellar. And as is often the case on these walks, when I couldn’t tell what a business does from the name and sign, I looked it up. Campo builds out campervans.
I walked up Chapala even though it has a different, more commercial character than the rest of the area. 433 Chapala, directly below, is poised to get redone rather nicely. And the former Romanti-Ezer space at Ortega is going to be a restaurant specializing in street tacos.
The proximity to Paseo Nuevo provided an opportunity to wander over to Tondi Gelato. A friend had recommended the fruit flavors, since Tondi shops at the farmers’ market, and the fig (shown here with peach) was indeed very good.
Santa Barbara’s abundance of flora never stops being a delight. I couldn’t tell what the first tree below is; that’s its fruit in the second photo. Or maybe it’s a squash vine crawling atop the tree? (Update: T. and BW tell me it’s passion fruit, which I’ve only ever seen fully ripe at the farmers’ market.)
And faux fungi: the mushroom-inspired steps at the Bath St. Pocket Park remind me that I’m ready to try psychedelics. (Blame Michael Pollan.) Probably won’t live-blog that, though.
Walk With Me…
Downtown Santa Barbara
• Mixing Business and Pleasure in East Beach
• It’s Only Milpas Street (But I Like It)
• The Haley Corridor Is Keeping It Real
• The Small Pleasures of Bungalow Haven
↓↓↓ Is There a Better Neighborhood for a Stroll Than West Beach?
• E. Canon Perdido, One of Downtown’s Best Strolling Streets
• The Heart of Montecito Is in Coast Village
• Quintessential Montecito at Butterfly Beach
• Once Upon a Time in the Hedgerow…
• Where Montecito Gets Down to Business (Coast Village Circle)
• In the Heart of the Golden Quadrangle
• Up, Down, and All Around Montecito’s Pepper Hill
• Montecito’s Prestigious Picacho Lane
• School House Road and Camphor Place
Summerland / Carpinteria
• A Stroll in the Summerland Countryside
• Admiring the Backsides of Beachfront Houses on Padaro Lane
• Whitney Avenue in Summerland
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