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Pacific Coast Highway

Seth Willingham


Behind the Shot

The Laguna Beach section of Pacific Coast Highway opened on October 9, 1926. At the dedication ceremony, actor Douglas Fairbanks, dressed as a blacksmith, forged a chain link ceremonially binding together beach communities from Long Beach to Serra (south of Laguna Beach). His wife, actress Mary Pickford, stood at his side dressed as the “spirit of progress” and gave a blessing over the forge. The grand opening, attended by hundreds of locals as well as politicians, state highway officials and various luminaries, celebrated the linking of the beach cities and forever changed life in and around the Laguna Beach region.

Nearly 100 years later, this view of Pacific Coast Highway winding through north Laguna Beach highlights how the highway has shaped the coastline and defined the way people live and work along the coast and the steep cliffs of Laguna Beach. Seth captured the scenic coast and highway and points north in this image. “The waves had been flat, and the water was clear,” he recalls. “Laguna is so unique in Southern California with all these half-moon coves. Divers Cove, Shaw’s Cove, Crescent Bay, Emerald Bay, Crystal Cove and all the way up to Newport Harbor and farther up the coast to a view of Catalina island on the horizon, this night I could see it all.”