Celebrating 150 Years of Santa Barbara’s Stearns Wharf

A Look at the Past and Present of One of California’s Last Working Wooden Piers

Celebrating 150 Years of
S.B.’s Stearns Wharf

A Look at the Past and Present of One of
California’s Last Working Wooden Piers

By Tyler Hayden, Matt Kettmann, and Terry Ortega | October 6, 2022

Credit: Carl Perry

Whether you venture there once a year with visiting friends or frequent its wooden walkways every day, Stearns Wharf serves as both the symbol and soul of Santa Barbara. It offers the most picturesque place to view back upon our city, providing new memories for countless tourists and locals every day, and yet it’s also central to the modern Santa Barbara we know and love — without Stearns Wharf, many of our buildings would not exist, nor would our still-thriving fishing culture and economically crucial hospitality scene.  

To celebrate its 150th anniversary, we present this collection of stories for you to enjoy. Tyler Hayden explores the wharf’s history, Matt Kettmann provides a rundown of the businesses that exist today, and Terry Ortega offers a memoir of growing up with Stearns as a frequent place of fun. 

Saturday’s Birthday Bash

The 150th birthday bash for Stearns Wharf is on Saturday, October 8, 11 a.m.-7:15 p.m. There are tall ship cannon battles, a regatta, live music, history talks, an opera performance, face-painting, scavenger hunts, boat rides, a clam chowder competition, fireworks, and plenty of deals planned for the celebration. 

See all the details at stearnswharf.org.

The History of Stearns Wharf

John Peck Stearns Transformed a
Sleepy Adobe Town into a Bustling American City

By Tyler Hayden

A postcard of the Potter Hotel circa 1905 | Credit: Edson Smith Photo Collection

Explore the Storefronts
of Stearns Wharf

Retailers, Restaurateurs, and Other Professionals Who Work Above the Water Every Day

By Matt Kettmann

Credit: Carl Perry

Remembering My Childhood Days on the Wooden Planks

A Lifelong Santa Barbaran Recalls Halcyon Days

By Terry Ortega

Stearns Wharf circa 1960 | Credit: Santa Barbara Maritime Museum


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