Behold the Sea: Many Historic Events

At left: Pete Douglas (in the back) and his brother, Jack, pose at the Ebb Tide Cafe, the hip coffee/jazz house, surrounded by artichokes and overlooking the Pacific Ocean in Miramar. This was the beginning of the Bach Dancing & Dynamite Society, today a world-class jazz house. (Actually, recently Pete brought back the flavor of the Ebb Tide Cafe, located in the same little building you see here).

Come to think of it, Miramar Beach (which means to behold the sea) has been the scene of many historic events, paralleling the growth of the Coastside.


(Photo: The first working wharf on the Coastside (built by Judge Josiah P. Ames in 1868) was located at present day Miramar. More than 50 years later, during the latter part of the doomed Ocean Shore Railroad era, the owners of the fabulous Palace Miramar Hotel repaired the rundown pier.)

Tiny Miramar Beach has been witness to the rancheros and the rounding of cattle near Medio Creek, site of the Coastside’s first working wharf & seafaring community which gave way to construction of the Ocean Shore Railroad and construction of the beautiful Palace Miramar Hotel and restaurant.

Then when Prohibition rolled in, Miramar became a home to the colorful rumrunners, bootleggers and the red-haired madam with her upstairs bordello at the Miramar Beach Inn (not to be confused with the Palace Miramar which was located at the other end of the street where the wharf once was).


(At right: Overlooking the Pacific Ocean, the Palace Miramar Hotel burned in the 1960s. Special parties organized by the Ocean Shore Railroad stopped here and, later, the hotel became famous for crab cioppino dinners, sometimes these fundraisers for famous politicians such as with famous politicians Richard Nixon.)

The land surrounding the hotels and roadhouses was planted with artichokes by farmers. The chokes were served in novel ways at restaurants in Half Moon Bay and the Coastside was shipping the artichokes all over, even to the East Coast, earning the title of “artichoke capital”.

And when the Ocean Shore Railroad filed bankruptcy, pulling up the rails, the Miramar Beach Inn and the Palace Miramar served customers delicious clam chowder and fond memories of other times. (The Palace Miramar burned in the 1960s but the Miramar Beach Inn still stands).

Representing the beat era spiritually, former county probation officer Pete Douglas inventeed the Bach Dancing & Dynamite Society…which metamorphised from the Ebb Tide Cafe, an intimate, hip coffee house with spontaneous acting-out, but more importantly the beginning of jazz music scene at the beach-this was in the late 1950s…to a bigger world- class jazz house featuring first-rate musicians playing the full spectrum of jazz. Pete’s kept the “Bach”, as we locals call it, pure. We’re so lucky to have a jazz house on the Coastside…I can even walk there from my house.

(Photo: When photographer Michael Powers’ dome appeared in Miramar in the 1970s, the structure became a curiosity piece in Miramar).

In the 70s greeting card photographer Michael Powers built a geodesic dome near the site of the then-gone Palace Miramar… and behind Power’s dome is where the future young, intrepid surfer Jeff Clark grew up, the Jeff Clark who, on his Coastside surfing journeys, was to discover and name world famous Mavericks…whose immense winter waves bring world-class surfers to Half Moon Bay.


(Photo: The cover of “Maverick’s by Matt Warshaw, published by Chronicle Books)

Now we’re up to date.

In Miramar, every historic era of the Coastside is represented, if not still seen, then it must be imagined.