Live Oak, Santa Cruz County, California

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Live Oak is a census-designated place (CDP) in Santa Cruz County, California between the towns of Santa Cruz and Capitola. The population was 16,628 at the 2000 census.



Live Oak is located at 36°58′53″N 121°58′50″W / 36.98139°N 121.98056°W / 36.98139; -121.98056 (36.981363, -121.980476).[1]

According to the United States Census Bureau, the CDP has a total area of 3.2 square miles (8.4 km²), all of it land.


For several thousand years, the Awaswas-speaking Ohlone people inhabited the area from Half Moon Bay to Aptos, including the area now known as Live Oak. When missionaries established the Mission Santa Cruz in 1791, they noted "an area to the east of the San Lorenzo River "in sight of the Sea" that was crisscrossed by "steep gulches containing running water" and three "reed-lined" lagoons. Spanish colonial settlers, who later established the secular pueblo of Villa de Branciforte on the east side of the San Lorenzo, ran their herds of cattle and horses in the "common lands" of this area.

In 1834 and 1836, territorial governors divided these lands among two rancheros, the brothers Alejandro and Francisco Rodriguez. Alejandro Rodriguez was granted "El Rancho Arroyo del Rodeo," named for the rodeo grounds located in a low-lying area along Rodeo Creek. (These grounds were later filled in during the construction of Highway 1.) Francisco Rodriguez was granted the rancho bearing the name "Los Esteros" because of the three sizeable saltwater lakes lying within its boundaries (now known as Twin Lakes and the Santa Cruz Harbor).

With the coming of whites in 1848 and American statehood in 1849, legal maneuvering turned the Rodriguez brothers' holdings over to a handful of white settler-farmers. Their farms produced wheat, oats, and barley, supporting small households of adobe and rough-cut lumber. The farmers prospered, establishing a Grange Hall and, in 1872, a small schoolhouse called the "Live Oak School," named for the evergreen live oak trees that dot the area. The Live Oak School District has maintained a facility at this location, now the intersection of 17th Avenue and Capitola Road, to the present day.

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