Art Deco and Art Moderne were popular architectural styles from 1920 to 1940. Salinas has one of the largest collection of Art Deco to Moderne buildings for a city of its size between San Francisco and Los Angeles. Why is this? Because it was one of the few cities to prosper during the depression. In 1924, Salinas had the highest per capita income of any city in the United States. During the produce seasons of the Great Depression, the volume of telephone and telegraph business origination in Salinas was greater than that of San Francisco. This tour was excerpted from a tour published by the Salinas Historical Resources Board.
Money was available for the building and expansion, and Salinas benefited from the construction of many buildings by excellent architects. This tour takes you to ten of these buildings plus the First Mayor’s House and the Steinbeck House for good measure. We give a glimpse of a few buildings here, but the full stories can be read by downloading our mobile app.
The Monterey County Courthouse is often described as a perfect example of the Depression Moderne style—a sub-style of the Moderne architectural movement.
One of two remaining theaters along Main Street, Cinema 1 is a simple Moderne design that concentrates on a skyward reaching facade.
The Art Deco Robobank Building is not only the tallest commercial structure in town, but also the jazziest with its chevron shaped terracotta surface tiles.