Santa Cruz is a seaside resort whose fame and popularity in the early part of the twentieth century was perhaps second only to New York's Coney Island. Its history as a resort town reaches back to the 1800s, when it was a key West Coast shipping port. It was “common knowledge” at that time that taking “sea baths” was beneficial to the body, and Santa Cruz developed a reputation as a resort town offering bathhouses and beach walks. However, it wasn't until 1903 that the concept of a boardwalk evolved. Over the years, the Boardwalk underwent many changes, eventually evolving into the unique beachfront theme park it is today.
Authors Chandra Moira Beal and Richard A. Beal have painstakingly reconstructed the early days of Santa Cruz and her Boardwalk. They are obviously passionate about the local history. This book documents legal battles over issues such as two-piece bathing costumes, and more routine changes such as the building and management of various casinos and hotels.
While locals may find some small interest in learning about the early years of their home, this book is not for the casual reader. The many pictures showing the changes in the Boardwalk are interesting, but the book itself is textbook dry. This book will be of great use to local historians and educators as well as students required to write research papers on the topic. Others will likely lose interest in the excruciating detail.
Ultimately, it seems that there's just not enough story surrounding Santa Cruz to make this a riveting read. This book is informative but dull, despite the subtitle. Unless you have a particular fascination with the minutiae of the Boardwalk's history, you can safely skip this book.