Costa Mesa “The Gateway to Newport Harbor”

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Costa Mesa “The Gateway to Newport Harbor”

In 1999, Costa Mesa changed its city slogan from “The Hub of the Harbor” to “The City of the Arts.” It is home to Segerstrom Center for the Arts, South Coast Repertory theater and South Coast Plaza, one of the nation’s most successful shopping centers. Yet, Costa Mesa was not always known for these attractions. . .

Supermarkets come to Newport Beach

From the start of World War II through the early 1960s California’s population increased dramatically, making it the most populous state by 1962. Like California as a whole, Newport Beach grew faster than any point its history, from 4,438 residents in 1940 to 26,564 in 1960. The influx of new residents also meant an increased need for housing and shopping.

Small neighborhood stores such as Arborn’s Harbor Market on Balboa Island were typical in the years prior to World War II. But with the increased population, larger stores became viable. Supermarkets, characterized by larger stores, self-service shopping and individual departments began to emerge.

Ostrich Farms: An Early Southern California Tourist Destination

Marie Antoinette, the Queen of France, ignited a fashion trend when she accessorized headpieces and hats with beautiful dyed ostrich feathers. Ostrich feathers quickly became a flamboyant accessory for hats, headpieces, trim on dresses or jackets, along with colorful boas. More than a century after Marie Antoinette was led to the guillotine, ostrich feathers were South Africa’s fourth most valuable export, after gold, diamonds, and wool.

Given the value of ostrich feathers and the fact that Southern California’s climate is similar to the bird’s natural habitat, enterprising southern Californians decided to compete with South African suppliers. Between 1883 and 1911

Merle’s Drive-in

Merle’s Coffee shop opened in 1951 at the corner of Coast Highway and MacArthur Blvd., a space now occupied by the Corona del Mar Plaza. Merle’s, which billed itself as a drive-in, offered a typical menu of coffee shop staples. In the early 1960s, the restaurant changed ownership and Merle’s became The Zoo drive-in. Perhaps the most memorable feature of The Zoo was the gorilla-costumed employee who stood on the corner to attract customers.

Kay Finch: Corona del Mar Artist

For more than twenty years, the ceramicist Kay Finch produced artful porcelain figurines in a studio near the corner of Coast Highway and Hazel Ave.  Kay, along with her staff,… Read More »