After crossing into the Park at Arizona you can point out the site of the 99 steps, a wooden staircase erected in 1875 to allow easy access to the beach. In 1893 the steps were altered so that Southern Pacific trains could pass beneath.
The Park was gifted to the city by John Percival Jones and Arcadia Baker. Initially they donated a strip of land from Colorado Avenue to Montana Avenue in 1892. Then in 1897 they doubled the park size by donating the land between Montana and Adelaide Drive. We have them to thank for preserving this 1.6 mile stretch of park land for public use.
The first plantings were grass, Monterey Cypress and eucalyptus trees. Over time the park has evolved. The sedimentary bluffs are geologically unstable and are subject to erosion. Water is the main culprit, so diverting water away from the park has been an ongoing challenge.
The 1913 enhancement of the park was inspired by the City Beautiful movement. The park was redesigned by landscape architect, I.G. Legrande with walkways, planters, pergolas and fountains. In 1998-1999, the City undertook a 4.5 million bond funded renovation.
In recognition of its cultural and historic value, the park was designated a Santa Monica landmark in 2007. There is a marker at Santa Monica Boulevard and the park near the sidewalk that signifies the end of Route 66, the “Mother Road”. Totally false. That marker was placed there by a film crew for a scene in “The Will Rogers Story.” Route 66 actually ends at the intersection of Lincoln and Olympic Boulevards, the 10 off ramp, where there is nary a marker to be seen. This does not prevent people from making the trip and driving on to the Pier to celebrate their completion of a drive on Route 66, believing the Pier is the end of the road.
In the Park there are four stone markers honoring the Veterans of Foreign wars. There is a separate pillar dedicated to each branch of the Armed Forces. The monument was dedicated on November 11, 1999 and at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, if the sun is shining, the pillars cast their shadow on the path below. The columns also align with the setting sun at the close of Veteran’s Day. This monument was designed by the architectural firm of Wallace, Roberts and Todd.