May 2011 - Santa Catalina Island
29 miles SSW of Long Beach, California
The retired Queen Mary
A view at the back of our ferry to the island
The harbor where we docked; the casino in the background
Murals on the casino
Views on our bus tour to the top of the island
Airport in the Sky
Blue whale vertebra and rib
On the road back to Avalon
More of the harbor
Santa Catalina Island (Tongva: Pimugna or Pimu) is a rocky island off the coast of the U.S. state of California in the Gulf of Santa Catalina. The island name is often shortened to Catalina Island or just Catalina. The island is 22 mi (35 km) long and 8 mi (13 km) across at its greatest width. The island is located about 29 mi (47 km) south-southwest of Long Beach, California. The highest point on the island is 2,097 ft (639 m) atop Mount Orizaba. Santa Catalina is part of the Channel Islands of California archipelago and lies within Los Angeles County.
Catalina was originally settled by Native Americans who called the island Pimugna or Pimu and referred to themselves as Pimugnans or Pimuvit. The first Europeans to arrive on Catalina claimed it for the Spanish Empire. Over the years, territorial claims to the island transferred to Mexico and then to the United States. During this time, the island was sporadically used for smuggling, otter hunting, and gold-digging, before successfully being developed into a tourist destination by chewing gum magnate William Wrigley, Jr. beginning in the 1920s. Since the 1970s, most of the island has been administered by the Catalina Island Conservancy.
Its total population in the 2010 census was 4,096 people, 90 percent of whom live in the island's only incorporated city, Avalon. The second center of population is the unincorporated village of Two Harbors at the island's isthmus. Development occurs also at the smaller settlements of Rancho Escondido and Middle Ranch. The remaining population is scattered over the island between the two population centers.