Early History

Prior to 1600: The area that includes Carmel was originally inhabited by the Ohlone Native Americans. 

1602: Friar Sebastian Vizcaino was the first European to have contact with the Ohlone people when he was commissioned to map the local coastal area. He named the local river Rio Carmelo.

1770: Gaspar de Portola and Father Junipero Serra arrived to establish the Mission San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo in Monterey. A year later, the mission was relocated closer to the Rio Carmelo in the area that is now Carmel-by-the-Sea.

New Colonization

1821: Mexico’s independence from Spain paved the way for new colonization of vacant land.

1848: Carmel became a part of the United States after California was ceded by Mexico in the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. This further accelerated European settlement.

1850s: French immigrant Honore Escolle purchased a large parcel of land north of the Mission San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo, naming it Rancho Las Manzanitas. 

1859: Scottish immigrant John Martin purchased another large parcel of land in the immediate vicinity.

1888: Santiago Duckworth purchased 324 acres of Rancho Las Manzanitas from Honore Escolle and filed a subdivision map for Carmel City with a goal of establishing a Catholic resort town. A hotel, bathhouse, and some homes were built before the resort town dream began to crumble and investors pulled out. 

1902: James Devendorf and Frank Powers formed the Carmel Development Company, took over Duckworth’s unsold lots, and filed a new subdivision map. This time it stuck, and a city was born.

Artistic Expansion

1902-1906: Largely because the speculated extension of the Southern Pacific Railroad through Carmel never came to fruition, population grew slowly. 

1905: The Carmel Arts and Crafts Club was formed to produce artistic performances, strengthening the city’s growing reputation as an artists’ refuge.

1906: Hundreds of artists and their families flocked to Carmel, attracted by the burgeoning art scene, after being displaced by the Great San Francisco Earthquake. 

1916: The city of Carmel officially incorporated.

1927: The Carmel Art Association was established, solidifying the city’s prominence as an artistic enclave.

Rejection of Commercialization

1929: Carmel’s establishing ordinance documented the desire for the city to remain residential and its charm and character to be protected.

1957: Lewis Livingston Jr.’s Plan for the Conservation and Enhancement of Carmel-by-the-Sea and Environs reiterated the desire to reject gentrification with specific mandates designed to maintain the residential character of the town. 

Current Day: Carmel-by-the-Sea retains its residential European-style charm and character. With a residential population that has remained consistently under 5,000, the town is popular with artists, tourists, and honeymooners for its natural beauty, culture, and architecture.