CALI DREAMIN’ San Luis Obispo
By Jannes Giessel Text: Wikipedia! Photo: Brady Teufel!
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History Demographics Culture
San Luis Obispo
he earliest human inhabitants
San Luis Obispo was also a popular
of the local area were the
stop on both U.S. Route 101 and
Chumash peoples. One of the
California State Route 1 with the
earliest villages lies south of San Luis
rise of car culture. Due to its popu-
Obispo, and reflects the landscape of
larity as a stop, it was the location of
the early Holocene when estuaries came
the first motel, the Milestone Mo-Tel.
farther inland. These Chumash people
Among San Luis Obispo’s histori-
exploited marine resources of the inlets
cal buildings is the former San Luis
and bays along the Central Coast and
Obispo Carnegie Library, located at
inhabited a network of villages including
696 Monterey Street.
sites at Los Osos and Morro Creek.
The San Luis Obispo Carnegie Library was built in 1905 with a grant of $10,000 from Andrew Carnegie, who funded the establishment of 142 California libraries in the early 1900s.
The Romanesque style building was designed by architect W. H. Weeks of Watsonville, California and was built by contractor Joseph Maino of San Luis Obispo.
DEMOGR of San Luis Obisp T
he 2010 United States Census reported that San Luis Obispo had a population
of 45,119. The population density was 3,489.4 people per square mile
Pacific Islander, 1,973 (4.4%) from oth-
(1,347.3/km²). The racial makeup of
er races, and 1,816 (4.0%) from two or
San Luis Obispo was 38,117 (84.5%)
more races. Hispanic or Latino of any
White, 523 (1.2%) African American,
race were 6,626 persons (0.1%) Pa-
275 (0.6%) Native American, 2,350
cific Islander, 1,973 (4.4%) from other
(5.2%) Asian, 65 (0.1%) (14.7%).
races, and 1,816 (4.0%) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 6,626 persons (14.7%).
The Census reported that 43,937 people (97.4% of the population) lived in households, 967 (2.1%) lived in non-institutionalized group quarters, and 215 (0.5%) were institutionalized. There were 19,193 households, out of which 3,178 (16.6%) had children under the age of 18 living in them, 5,690 (29.6%) were opposite-sex married couples living together, 1,336 (7.0%) had a female householder with no husband present, 586 (3.1%) had a male householder with no wife present. There were 1,104 (5.8%) unmarried opposite-sex partnerships, and 124 (0.6%) same-sex married couples or partnerships.
There were 20,553 housing units at an average density of 1,589.5 per square mile (613.7/km²), of which 7,547 (39.3%) were owner-occupied, and 11,646 (60.7%) were occupied by renters. The homeowner vacancy rate was 1.6%; the rental vacancy rate was 5.7%. 17,225 people (38.2% of the population) lived in owner-occupied housing units and 26,712 people (59.2%) lived in rental housing units.
The Madonna Inn is a fa-
is home to the San Luis
a Carnegie Library which is
mous local landmark. Es-
Obispo International Film
now home to the San Luis
tablished by Alex Madonna
Festival. Another destination Obispo County Historical
in 1958, the inn is famously
is Bubblegum Alley. Since
Museum. A sculpture of a
eccentric. The Fremont
about 1960, people have
child and bear at the Mis-
Theater, a historic Art Deco
been sticking chewed gum
sion in downtown San Luis
theater from the 1940s, still
on the walls of this alley.
Obispo. A fish was added
plays first run movies on the
The doctor’s office on the
after the photograph was
huge screen. Murals adorn
corner of Santa Rosa and
the walls of the main theater
Pacific streets is one of very
while neon swirls light the
few commercial buildings
Lots of mystery surrounds
ceiling. The Palm Theatre
designed by Frank Lloyd
the “underground city”, or
boasts solar heating and
Wright. San Luis also has
the series of tunnels that
of San Luis Obispo
exists beneath the city.
CSU system”, Poly Royal
One of the largest Mardi
began drawing over 100,000
Gras parades West of the
people from throughout the
Mississippi used to be held
state, including 126,000
in San Luis Obispo, but it
people in 1985. Concerts,
has been canceled recently
parties, and other enter-
because of difficulties re-
tainment were added and it
lated to crowd control and
earned $3–4 million in reve-
nue for the city every year.
Cal Poly’s open house, Poly
Following a “mini-riot” in
Royal, was held annually
1989 at an off-campus
from 1933 to 1990. It was
apartment during Poly Roy-
canceled in 1945 due to
al, the events in 1990 would
war rationing. It began as a
cancel the event “indefinite-
show-and-tell for students
ly.” Two nights of rioting on
to display their projects.
April 28–29 led to 127 ar-
It traces its origins to the
rests, over 100 injuries and
1904 Farmer’s Institute
14 police injuries on top of
and Picnic Basket. By the
“several hundred thousand
1980s, as the college be-
dollars” worth of damage.
came “the most popular...
A liquor store near campus,
university in the 19-campus
Campus Bottle, was de-
stroyed by revelers demanding alcohol. The second nioff-campus were broken up and revelers flooded the streets. Mayor Dunin called the events “the worst experience in the history of San Luis Obispo.” After a meeting between Mayor Dunin and University President Warren Baker the following Monday, Poly Royal was canceled from that point forward. The name Poly Royal returned in 2001 as “Open House Presents Poly Royal”, a scaled down version that was designed for students and parents. San Luis Obispo has been
home of several other events, including a
San Luis Obispo hosts a Farmer’s Market
stop on the way of the Olympic Flame Re-
every Thursday night from 6-9PM on
lay, the Tour of California bicycle race, Cin-
Higuera Street, between Osos and Nipomo
co de Mayo celebrations, an annual Mozart
Streets. During this weekly event, the street
festival, held every July, and a long-stand-
is closed to vehicle traffic while vendors
ing Christmas Parade. Another attraction
sell food and goods and various visual and
is the development of Edna Valley into a
music artists perform for the crowds.
well-known wine region. Just south of the city, people can spend an afternoon wine
Since June 2000, the first Thursday of
tasting several wineries in the area with a
every month is The Bike Happening (also
very short drive. The wine region extends
known as Bike Nite) in San Luis Obispo.
north beyond Paso Robles (30 miles north)
People gather after the Farmer’s Market at
and south to Santa Ynez (70 miles south).
the Mission Plaza with their bikes. The bikers then go around on multiple circuits on
During Summer months, local residents
the main streets of downtown adhering to
and visitors congregate in the Mission Pla-
the traffic laws (for the most part). The ride
za for a free outdoor concert every Friday
is considered a fun/social ride meant to en-
evening. The event is called Concerts in
courage people to get back on their bikes
the Plaza. Other noteworthy events include
and to have fun. Each Bike Happening has
the San Luis Obispo International Film
a theme and a large portion of the crowd is
Festival, Festival Mosaic, and the Plein Air
in some costume adherent to the theme.
One of the cultural focal centers of San Luis Obispo is the Christopher Cohen Performing Arts Center built on the Cal Poly Campus, which was constructed utilizing the donations of local businesses and individuals. The Performing Arts Center consists of multiple venues, including the original Spanos Theatre. The largest venue, Harmon Hall, seats 1,300. Many high school and college programs are scheduled. Local artists
perform plays, music and dance. The addition of the Performing Arts Center attracts many touring performances which are usually not found in communities of comparable size to San Luis Obispo. The Summer of 2007 was the opening concert of the Forbes Pipe Organ, which was built elevated into a side wall of Harmon Hall and required the donation of a further $3 million for purchase and installation.
San Luis Obisp
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500! acre s!
1,614! acres! 3,043! acres!
Western Ranches! Valencia Property! Swanton Paciﬁc Ranch! Main Campus! San Luis Creek Ranches!
Total: 9,678 acres.!
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Student body 18,762! Faculty
Student-to-Faculty ! Ratio! !
1,244! Staﬀ 1,383! Corpora3on 445! ASI 84!