Original surf shop established as California Point of Historic Interest
First they made the world’s first viable wetsuit, allowing surfers worldwide to dive into waters too icy for most. Now O’Neill is making history again.
The California State Historical Resources Commission voted unanimously earlier this month to approve the site of the original O’Neill Surf Shop (located at the entrance to Cowell Beach) as a “California Point of Historic Interest.”
What does that mean for the little beach shack that made history? For one, it’s going to get a sign explaining its historic significance. But for most Santa Cruzans, including Santa Cruz City Council Member David Terrazas (who spearheaded the designation effort), it’s just an official recognition of something they already know.
“O’Neill is uniquely Santa Cruz,” Terrazas said in a recent press release. “Jack and his family are integral to our town, and have built something really special here.”
Developed in 1959 by Jack O’Neill, the wetsuit helped jumpstart Santa Cruz surf culture and cold water surfing on a broader level.
“What started out as a way to catch as many waves as possible has turned into a life I could not have even dreamed up,” O’Neill said in response to the news. “I am grateful to all of you who have supported us along the way from our roots through 60 years.”
Now the City of Santa Cruz is looking to dredge up the accumulated memories of the Santa Cruzans who shared O’Neill’s odyssey with an open call for photo submissions or stories related to the original surf shop. Submissions will be incorporated into an “interpretative signage project.”
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