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At Home in Midtown Santa Cruz

Midtown, a vibrant neighborhood nestled in the heart of Santa Cruz, California, has been the center of a long-standing naming controversy. This article dives deep into the evolution of this area, its unique identity, and why its designation as “Midtown” has been a contentious topic for locals.

History of Naming Controversy

Midtown, which lies roughly between the Westside and Eastside of Santa Cruz, is often seen as a simple business district. Yet, its designation as ‘Midtown’ as opposed to ‘Eastside’ has been the cause of passionate discussions, with opinions often divided along generational lines.

The Eastside vs. Midtown Debate

The term ‘Midtown’ started gaining traction around the turn of the millennium, with younger locals and newcomers embracing it as a way to distinguish the rapidly expanding Eastside area. However, older residents, who have known the area as the Eastside for decades, see ‘Midtown’ as an attempt to rewrite local history and identity.

Local Businesses and the Midtown Moniker

Many local businesses, particularly in the commercial district centered on Soquel Avenue, use ‘Midtown’ to distinguish themselves from the downtown business district and other areas in the Eastside. This usage, which is often seen as a strategic marketing move, has not been well-received by all locals. Some residents have even gone as far as boycotting businesses with ‘Midtown’ in their name.

The Midtown Neighborhood

Regardless of the name controversy, the Midtown area is undeniably a bustling hub of activity, full of iconic businesses, residential areas, and community spaces.

Businesses and Commerce

Midtown is home to many of Santa Cruz’s most iconic businesses, including Shopper’s Corner, The Crepe Place, and The Buttery. The area has evolved into a distinct identity, with businesses such as Midtown Surf Shop, Midtown Optometry, and Midtown Cafe using the ‘Midtown’ brand to create a sense of camaraderie and bring Midtown to be more of a commerce center.

Community and Lifestyle

Midtown is not just about businesses and commerce; it’s also a thriving residential area. The community’s laid-back vibe, combined with its bustling commercial activity, makes it a unique place to live. Residents often describe Midtown as a neighborhood with a sense of belonging, and this strong community spirit is reflected in local events like the Midtown Fridays Summer Block Parties.

Transportation and Accessibility

Midtown’s central location makes it easily accessible by various modes of transportation. The area is walkable, making it easy for residents and visitors to explore the local businesses, cafes, and community spaces. Its proximity to the Santa Cruz Small Craft Harbor and the Seabright area further adds to its appeal.

The Future of Midtown

Despite the debates surrounding its name, Midtown continues to flourish. The city’s Economic Development Department and local businesses are continually working to promote and define the area, with the aim of supporting the business community and enhancing the neighborhood’s appeal.

The Role of the City

The City of Santa Cruz plays a crucial role in supporting the identity that the active business community seeks. The city’s efforts, such as the implementation of neighborhood banner signage and the erection of the ‘Experience Midtown’ sign, are aimed at promoting the district.

Embracing Change and Evolution

Change is inevitable, and as Midtown continues to evolve, it’s important for residents and businesses to embrace this change while respecting the area’s history. The use of the term ‘Midtown’ does not come from a place of disrespect; instead, it’s a reflection of the area’s transformation and growth.


The Midtown neighborhood of Santa Cruz, CA, is a vibrant area steeped in history and controversy. As the debate over its name continues, one thing remains clear: Midtown is a unique and thriving community that continues to evolve and adapt. Regardless of what it’s called, this neighborhood will continue to hold a special place in the hearts of its residents and the broader Santa Cruz community.

Whether you refer to it as ‘Eastside’ or ‘Midtown,’ there’s no denying that this area is an essential part of Santa Cruz’s identity. As the debate continues, it’s clear that the passion and sense of belonging that residents feel for this neighborhood is what truly defines it.

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