Dana Point is a city in Orange County, Southern California. Dana Point Harbor, with its marinas and eclectic boutiques, is a jumping off point for dolphin and whale-watching cruises. Surf waves roll onto nearby Doheny State Beach and Salt Creek Beach, which is backed by a grassy park. Trails wind through Dana Point Headlands Conservation Area, which has sweeping ocean views and an interpretive center.
Dana Point was a popular port for ships involved with the hide trade with nearby Mission San Juan Capistrano. Trading reached its peak in the 1830s and 1840s. In 1818, Argentine sailor Hippolyte de Bouchard anchored there while conducting his raid on the mission. Richard Henry Dana then visited the area in 1835 while serving aboard the sailing brig Pilgrim on her voyage along the California coastline.
In 1923, Los Angeles Times publisher Harry Chandler and General M. H. Sherman, director of the Pacific Electric Railway Company, created a major real estate group to develop what is known today as the Hollywood Hills. Sidney H. Woodruff, already a prominent Los Angeles homebuilder, was hired to lead the project.
In 1926, Woodruff, Chandler, and Sherman created the Dana Point Syndicate. They invited other investors, company presidents, movie producers, and real estate investors to join them in purchasing 1,388 acres (5.6 km2) of land, some of which includes the "Headlands" of today. Promising tree-lined and paved streets, electricity, telephones, sidewalks, water mains, storm drains, sewers, and other amenities, Woodruff built 35 homes and a number of commercial buildings.
Most of these "Woodruff" houses are concentrated in the Dana Point historic core, also called Lantern Village (currently about 12,000 residents). The streets are named after different colored lanterns—Street of the Violet Lantern, Blue Lantern, etc.—because colored lanterns were used by ships 200 years ago to advertise their fares when in the Dana Point natural harbor. His crowning structure was to be the Dana Point Inn, a Mediterranean-like resort hotel on the cliffs overlooking the harbor. After a celebratory groundbreaking in 1930, a three-story foundation was poured and a 135-foot (41 m) shaft was dug for an elevator to transport hotel guests to and from the beach. The economic downturn of the Great Depression caused construction to halt, however. Although Woodruff continuously sought financial support through the years, this project was abandoned in 1939. Subsequently, he sold the remaining holdings of the Dana Point Syndicate. Thirty-four of the original Woodruff residences are still occupied.
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