“Seaside—From Resort to Fort Ord and Back Again”
Seaside began as the Hotel Del Monte began, as a part of the City of Monterey. Because the subdivision of Seaside was located just a mile to the northwest of the hotel, the subdivision of Seaside was initially conceived as an outgrowth of the resort community and identified as a tourist destination.
Like so many other ambitious pioneers in the late nineteenth century, Seaside’s founder, Dr. John Roberts left New York in 1887 for California and settled near relatives in Pacific Grove. He and his uncle bought 160 acres from the David Jacks Corporation, which he divided into 1,000 lots for sale as vacation property. He also made his home in the new residential area that bordered Monterey and the Hotel.
In 1910, now a Monterey County Supervisor, Roberts successfully lobbied President Theodore Roosevelt to locate Fort Ord in Seaside, which had the unintended effect of driving out the small community of middle classes who did not appreciate that the United States military used Seaside’s main streets as a training ground.
By 1914, however, The Seaside News-Graphic claimed that “The biggest breadbasket the Peninsula has ever had is Fort Ord…and we in [Seaside] are the nearest [to] the head of the table where that bread is coming from.” Fort Ord, built in 1940 on 28,514 acres, with an additional government purchase of 100,000 acres at that time to be used for large-scale maneuvers and training was located immediately to the north and northwest of Seaside. Like all other military training bases in the United States, war meant expansion. By 1942, one observer commented on the development of the base: “Miles of paved street replace the dust laden lanes, and a panoramic view reveals a great and complete army encampment, a solid example of American Can Do. Today construction continues apace to meet still greater needs.”
Seaside thrived as a center of diversity derived from its multicultural character as a military town throughout the decades of the twentieth century, and became known as a forward thinking model of political inclusion during the civil rights era. When Fort Ord closed as an active duty base in 1994, one of Seaside’s most prominent and successful businessmen, Al Glover, had this to say, “I think this community is a better community today . The military, the loss of the military, has given the community a chance to breathe, to grow.”
And grow it has done. Seaside, by 2009, is in the throes of redevelopment and gentrification, bustling with projects ranging from golf courses, 5 star resorts, conference facilities, new residential and commercial development, and plans for a mixed use, transit oriented, urban village that would transform the downtown. According to City Manager Ray Corpuz, Seaside is working towards “a common vision both among the leadership of elected officials and the community at large,” that brings Seaside into the Monterey Peninsula communities as an internationally recognized tourist destination. One of his first projects as City Manager was to sponsor a first ever history of Seaside currently available through Arcadia Publishing.
For further information please contact Carol McKibben, Director, Seaside History Project, firstname.lastname@example.org.