Cement Ship

How did that ship get here?Cement Ship from West Small

A quick history of Seacliff…

Our neighborhood of Seacliff was originally part of an area populated by the native Ohlone people. In 1833 the government of Mexico granted Aptos Rancho to Rafael Castro. By 1872 Claus Spreckels, the sugar millionaire, began buying the land from Castro including Seacliff.

“The area within the Seacliff Village was developed mostly in the second half of the 20th century. Before the 1920′s, the land was used for pasture and sugar beet production. In 1925 and 1926, the Seacliff Company of Santa Cruz prepared a development plan for Seacliff Beach and the coastal plateaus above it. They proposed a clubhouse, a large auditorium, a breakwater, a hotel, and a residential subdivision. The Santa Cruz Land and Title Company surveyed the Seacliff area, naming it “Seacliff Park,” including the area in Seacliff Village, laying out lots and streets. Although never developed, these lots and streets are very close to today’s configuration of lots and streets.

In 1929, the Seacliff Amusement Corporation made plans to bring a ship to Seacliff Beach to be used as an entertainment center. The SS Palo Alto was commissioned by the U.S. Navy and built in Alameda just after the end of World War I. During World War I, the Navy was looking for alternatives to iron and steel ships and, therefore, the ship was built of reinforced concrete (using cement extracted from Davenport) and was purported to be able to float even if broken in two. After being launched in May 1919, the ship lay at anchor in Oakland and Benicia until sold as surplus in 1924.

The SS Palo Alto arrived at Seacliff Beach in January 1930. The Seacliff Amusement Corporation constructed a 640-foot pier and promised that the ship would be a hotel and nightclub, with a dance floor and orchestra, and restaurant. The ship was opened for business on June 28, 1930. Due to the Great Depression, less elegant fare was offered the next season.SeacliffAirial Small

A series of storms cracked the hull in 1932. The investors, hoping to cut their losses, sold their beachfront property and the SS Palo Alto to the State of California in February 1936 for $1.00.

During this time, the Seacliff Village area was very sparsely developed and only the Appenrodt building at 253 Center Avenue remains today.

The existing commercial buildings in the Seacliff Village area were built in the 1950s — 1970′s. The newest building was constructed in 1980.”

The above information is from the Santa Cruz County Plan for Seacliff Village.