Carmel-by-the-Sea Bohemian-No-More

Steve Farghali

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In 1906, a devastating earthquake struck San Francisco, prompting many of its artists to move to a village just over a hundred miles to the south. Carmel-by-the-Sea, often referred to simply as Carmel, was the destination for these musicians, painters, poets and writers, and has remained an area known for its famously artistic residents. Among thema��Ansel Adams, Upton Sinclair, Clint Eastwood (who was mayor for a time), Betty White, Sinclair Lewis and Jack London.

The town developed with a Bohemian flavor. Sidewalks, where available, are often mangled by tree roots, prompting one of the town’s famous quirks. A ban on wearing high-heeled shoes without a permit, a law enacted in the 1920’s in order to prevent lawsuits. And it’s the neighborhoods with poor or nonexistent sidewalks that the visitor will want to stroll through for that original flavor. Their English-style cottage homes are just as beautiful as anything you will see in the dozens of art galleries in the downtown area. These homes have traditionally been named, not numbered, for added individuality at the expense of mail delivery.

But today the architecture is juxtaposed with a stream of Mercedes and BMWs. One can’t help but wonder how much of its eclectic nature has been drowned by dollars. An area that once welcomed artists with lots for ten dollars and little, if any interest, now boasts some of the highest property values in the state. Yet, Carmel remains a refreshing change of pace from the more populated areas of California. One can only hope that the area continues to attract creative talent instead of simply offering expensive talent, where the most unorthodox sight is a pampered dog welcomed into a high-priced hotel.

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