March 8, 2009

Field photos: Redlands

I've noticed a pattern in my travels in California. When traveling for pleasure, we invariably pick a nice little town along the coast, or take a drive up the coast, or camp on the coast... I rarely venture inland, except when work takes me there. But California's interior is just as spectacular as its coast, and is full of beautiful scenery, quirky little towns, and history.

I have fallen in love with Redlands, California. There's something about the town, which sprung up in the late 19th century around the citrus industry and quickly became a favorite winter retreat for wealthy folk from the east, that reminds me so much of a midwestern town. It may be the blocks after blocks of well-preserved Victorian and Crafstman homes (endangered species in Southern California), the cute main street, the small-town feel...whatever it is, I immediately felt at home.

In fact, so many of the original residents of Redlands came from the Midwest, that an early group of settlers called themselves the "Chicago Colony" and named Redlands' main street after State Street in Chicago.

Interestingly enough, Redlands was a planned community designed by two East Coast developers, Frank Brown and Edward Judson, in 1881. The planners bought the land, laid out the town in a grid plan, advertised to potential eastern investors, and encouraged the fledgling citrus industry by building canals to bring water from the mountains to the orchards.

The Santa Fe depot, once Redlands' main railroad station (no longer in use). The structure, a colonnade that shades the depot within, is built in a Classical Revival style.

Shutters on a window at the San Bernardino Asistencia, once a cattle-grazing outpost of the Mission San Gabriel from 1819-1834 (California Historical Landmark #42). The structures you see there now are actually reproductions built in the 1930s as a WPA project. Its Historical Landmark designation was actually in recognition of the fine craftsmanship of the WPA structures, not so much for the site's earlier history.

The A.K. Smiley Public library, near downtown. One of the prettiest libraries I've ever seen. Designed in a "moorish" (or mission) style, the library opened in 1898. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places and as a state Historical Landmark.

Lest you think Redlands is all class, let's take a drive out to the outskirts of town, shall we? Technically, this house is in neighboring Mentone. You can't tell from the picture, but the Statue of Liberty head has glowing green eyes.

Long-abandoned bunkers in the desert scrub...creepy.


Unknown said...

Very pretty. Anders and I need to visit this one next time we head to LA.

Anonymous said...

thanks for outputting your blog entries in full-form for rss, it means i actually take the time to read them cuz they're "delivered" in a way. good post, nice pictures.. i've never heard of redlands, sounds nice. beautiful lush green mountains in the last picture. interesting blog. the history seems well researched.