In the 1850s, the area that is now UC Santa Cruz was owned by the Cowell Lime Works, the largest manufacturer of limestone in California, which supplied much of the limestone for San Francisco after the population boom caused by the California Gold Rush. UC Santa Cruz was opened in 1965 and has since spearheaded efforts to restore and preserve the kilns and living quarters that remain from the Cowell Lime Works.

The Westside wouldn’t be what it is without the counterculture influence of surfing. During the 1960s, Santa Cruz became a popular surfing destination, as well as a home for innovation within the sport. The modern wet suit was developed by surf icon Jack O’Neill during trial runs at Steamer Lane and O’Neill’s son Pat is credited with popularizing the modern surf leash at the local surf spot. 


The Westside is an outdoor enthusiast’s dream. With numerous parks and natural preserves in the area, as well as UC Santa Cruz and the Henry Cowell Redwood State Park, it is a paradise for hikers, dog owners and mountain bikers alike. The Pogonip Preserve behind UCSC has miles of hiking and multi-use trails and Wilder Ranch State Park is a popular mountain biking destination.

Besides mountain biking and hiking, there are a handful of tennis courts, parks and basketball courts on the Westside. Derby Park, which sits behind Pacific Collegiate School, has the only skatepark on the Westside. While not an official course, the park also maintains four disc golf baskets spread throughout the open space. 


The Westside has two main elementary schools, Bay View and Westlake, as well as Mission Hill Middle School, Santa Cruz High School and UC Santa Cruz.

Pacific Collegiate School, a high school college prep school on the Westside is the highest rated public high school in California and routinely ranks in the top 10 nationwide with 80 percent of the students going on to four year colleges. PCS was formerly Natural Bridges Elementary School, which will take over the location again in 2015.

UC Santa Cruz sits on a hill above the upper Westside and more or less operates as a city unto itself, rightfully earning the nickname of the “City on a Hill.” 


The homes on the Westside are some of the nicest you will find in Santa Cruz proper. Unlike the Victorians of downtown, Westside homes have a more modern style to them. Many of the homes near the beaches and on the upper Westside have decks, lookouts and solar panels to take advantage of the sun-drenched views.

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