Introduction by Nick Welsh
Santa Barbara has long occupied a magically engineered time warp, where the past and present wash over each other and, for the most part, seem to peacefully coexist. Maybe it started after the 1925 earthquake, when the town’s leading citizens decided to reinvent the hamlet as an Andalusian fantasy, rooted in a heady cocktail of historic fact and fiction. Mostly, it has worked.
As a result, time seems to move more slowly in Santa Barbara, if at all. For reporters covering the town, stories keep repeating themselves — only the names change, and then only sometimes. At The Santa Barbara Independent, we were jarred out of our collective illusion that time’s standing still by the occasion of our 20th anniversary in business. It’s one of those contrived ceremonial passages that inspires reflection in even those resistant to retrospection. Much has remained the same during the past 20 years. But much has changed, too. The most glaring are real estate prices. Ten years ago, a $5 million home sale would have been headline news. But today, even suburban tract teardowns routinely fetch $1 million.
The following pages represent a collection of images taken
throughout the years by Independent photographers— Alex
Abatie, Steve Keegan, Gerry Melendez, Djamel E. Ramoul, Kim
Reierson, Matt Straka, and Paul Wellman. The first section
highlights the people and events that have made headlines during
the past two decades; the second section is an ode to individual
photographers whose images have enriched The Indy’s