Mural and plaque honor the original Santa Cruz O’Neill surf shop
When Jack O’Neill opened his first surf shop in Santa Cruz, in 1959, he had no idea just how famous his brand would eventually become.
The shop, which originally opened in San Francisco in 1952, relocated to near Cowell Beach where it had a profound impact on the surfing culture in Santa Cruz County.
O’Neill invented neoprene wetsuits, which allowed surfers to brave the icy cold waters of Santa Cruz. Wetsuits revolutionized the sport of surfing, as well as the Santa Cruz economy.
“A global industry grew from that small family-run storefront,” says Crystal Birns, the city arts program manager for economic development in Santa Cruz. “The business grew steadily, earning global recognition as a pioneer and leader in the world of surfing.”