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Scenic view of Santa Barbara harbor, showing the coastal portion of the city as viewed from the nearby mountains to the north. Stearns Wharf, completed in 1872 by John Stearns, is visible jutting out into the Pacific. Small ranch-style houses and farms are scattered around Santa Barbara.

In 1887, Santa Barbara was coming into its own, this was the year when the railroad reached the city. Following this, the city would grow rapidly, supplanting the picturesque small town seen here. Oil would be discovered soon after in the Summerland Oil Field, again changing the economy of the city.

This view originally appeared in Harper's Weekly as part of an article penned by Edwards Roberts. Slightly earlier in the newspaper's history (starting in 1871), Charles Nordhoff had repeatedly advertised Santa Barbara as an attractive holiday destination, a theme which other columnists emulated.