Thursday, January 14, 2010

Huntington Beach Morning: The Architecture of a SoCal Beach Town


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Everyone has a different idea of what one one of the most famous of SoCal's beach cities must look like, and every beach city in SoCal, in Los Angeles or Orange County, has a unique flare and style. Huntington Beach is no exception. I've always understood Huntington Beach to be home of good surf, beautiful bad boys, and commerical surf and skate gear. 
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It's amazing how many people I've seen wearing t-shirts from American Eagle or any other mass commerical retail chain that boast of Huntington Beach. I think most people with those shirts who end up here might be dissappointed, unless you hit a surf bar and start to understand that the people in this community is what makes this place sparkle. Anyhow, t-shirts of places and reality tend to be two very distinctly different things. But, don't ask these retailers to stop selling the dream.
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Back to a basic point, the people create the community, and an early stop on main street would mean you'd find all the locals recovering from last night with a solid breakfast and good cup of joe. 
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Remember that this was shot in the first week of January, yes, the sky is real and there isn't a drop of snow anywhere. We've got mountains for that two and a half hours away...isn't that just wonderful!
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Things in Huntington are pedestrian friendly, with low-rise buildings and wonderful wide sidewalks. Off the original main strip, the big chains are begining to push their way in by redeveloping entire blocks of old buildings. As lovely as this might seem, it's tragic to loose the original roots of what makes this town special and it's not big McMansions....
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There are also several new homes that are built with Italian-Euro influences. I personally love the ivy growing on the first house below. 
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The palm trees are absolutely more fabulous than the next house, even though it's a million dollar-something home, the newer generation of home really lacks character like the old beach cottages.
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The spanish tiled roof is a great way to add interest to the newer built homes.
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But the true charm happens to be the small beach cottages. They are rustic and have been there for as long as I can remember. This is what a true beach cottage looks like. 
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Time to really shift focus to the true roots of Huntington Beach. Another less glamour beach cottage, at total fixer-upper in fact, has wonderful succulents instead of grass. I'm posting this picture because the succulents grow wild in Orange County. They grow along the beaches, freeways, or front lawns in Cali and they have spectacular fushia pink or sun yellow blooms. Wish they were in effect when I snapped this photo. But, this is more typical of the sort of places that surfers crash.
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The old ice house is another Huntington Beach staple-ice is a must for any party!
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Need something to roll over ice? Old school signs, but the shelves are stocked with Grey Goose. Grab a taco while your at it!
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I love the old antique shop. The weather beat clapboard reminds me of the Wild West.
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Even the police station has kept its roots to old California beach cottage-yes, that is a Huntington Beach police station!
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The street signs acknowledge the surfer's rule in Huntington Beach. 
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Classic California beach neighborhoods are very unglamourous. They are humble, content, and beautiful in their own right. It's not about the Desperate Housewives of OC lifestyle, but don't get me wrong-it does exist. It's just nice to let your hair down and enjoy a day of flip-flops, jeans, and t-shirts. That is afterall what the beach is all about!
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