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New book shows photos of Santa Barbara then and now

Have you ever wondered what was in a building years ago? A new book in Santa Barbara called “Then and Now” compares sites throughout the city with historic photos next to current pictures.

Author and Historian Neal Graffy reveals 162-pages of sites including the waterfront, State Street, and landmark buildings.

“I can’t think of anything that has stayed exactly the same,” said Graffy. He says even the Old Mission has had a different look over the years.

At the site of the famous 400 room Potter Hotel along the waterfront, there is a grass lawn and apartments now where the famous structure burned down in 1921. But when it opened in 1903, “it was said there was more money in Santa Barbara that night than in Fort Knox,” said Graffy because of the wealthy visitors staying the night in the new hotel.

Some of the historical photos go back to the 1800’s, but some are fairly recent. Like those of the Sambos restaurant. “This is just 55 years old,” said Graffy.

He also has photos of the famous waterfront Popcorn Man, Joe’s Cafe, the Lobero Theater, and the harbor before the marinas were built.

“You can’t throw a stick in Santa Barbara without hitting something historic,” Graffy laughed.

This Saturday Graffy will be talking about his book and signing new copies at Santa Barbara Arts in the La Arcada court between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m.

Neal Graffy can also be contacted at

Article Topic Follows: News

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