After the Gold Rush to California in the 1840's and early 50's, Half Moon Bay attracted Yankees, South Americans, Mexicans, Europeans and Chinese immigrants. Most of these settlers became farmers, dairymen and small businessmen. Later on the Portuguese, Irish, and Italians joined the mix, contributing their own special skills and cultures.
Throughout its history, fertile land has remained Half Moon Bay's most prized resource. Unlike other agricultural areas of California, it was never monopolized by a few large landholders. Instead, beginning in the 1850's, the early ranchos were broken up and sold to many small investors. Some of those farms are still in the hands of the original families.
Cut off from the mainstream of the outside world by the Santa Cruz mountains, Half Moon Bay remained essentially rural. Its appearance changed little as the years went by. Today it still has that "small town" atmosphere, its population numbering only 12,000 souls today. As in the 1800's, the ocean winds and cooling fogs continue to make the land ideal for farming. The fertile black soil is as productive as ever. The natural beauty of the unobstructed ocean views remains. Yesterday's charm may still be appreciated in the solitude of this rural community on the Pacific Ocean's edge.
Today, with the Pacific Coast Highway (Route 1) running through it, Half Moon Bay is becoming better and more widely known as a traveler and tourist destination, offering a unique mix of rural charm, spectacular scenic beauty, and up-scale amenities such as elegant lodging, fascinating galleries, fine restaurants, and specialty shops.