Coast Highway Dedication

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Then & Now

By Laguna Beach Magazine Staff

 A dedication ceremony attended by movie stars Douglas Fairbanks (standing at left) and Mary Pickford (sitting in center) took place Oct. 9, 1926, for a local section of Coast Highway. | Courtesy of Laguna Beach Historical Society
A dedication ceremony attended by movie stars Douglas Fairbanks (standing at left) and Mary Pickford (sitting in center) took place Oct. 9, 1926, for a local section of Coast Highway. | Courtesy of Laguna Beach Historical Society

As we cruise along Coast Highway from one beach town to the next, with tunes playing on the radio and ocean views rolling by, it’s difficult to imagine a time when this major thoroughfare didn’t exist. But less than a century ago, there was no paved road linking the local coastal communities—until the dedication of a 9.8-mile segment of Coast Highway on Oct. 9, 1926.

This stretch connected Newport Beach and Laguna Beach, which would incorporate as a city the following year. On hand for the dedication ceremony were silent film stars Douglas Fairbanks and his wife, Mary Pickford, who performed an allegorical pageant at the event.

The route, as seen today, runs through Laguna Beach. | Photo by Foster J. Eubank
The route, as seen today, runs through Laguna Beach. | Photo by Foster J. Eubank

Douglas, known for swashbuckling roles in movies such as “Robin Hood” and “The Mark of Zorro,” portrayed mighty Vulcan the blacksmith (the ancient Roman god of fire), who welded together the links in a symbolic chain of friendship binding the communities from Long Beach to Serra. The new state highway was finally opened to traffic between those points with the completion of the Newport-Laguna section.

Nearly 90 years later, this arterial route proves indispensable in coastal Orange County travel. A smooth ride from Laguna to countless cities both north and south, it offers a convenient commute and endless options for summer road trips.

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