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California, U.S.A.
Welcome to Santa Maria, California.
Santa Maria is a coastal city situated in Santa Barbara County, approximately 120 miles northwest of Los Angeles. With around 103,400 residents, it is the most populous city in the Santa Maria-Santa Barbara Metro Area. Santa Maria is famous for its wine industry and Santa Maria-style barbecue. Sunset magazine even called Santa Maria The West's Best BBQ Town. When California gained statehood in 1850, the area's fertile soil attracted farmers and various other settlers. By the end of the 19th century, the Santa Maria River Valley had developed into one of the most thriving agricultural areas in the state. To this day, agriculture is still a key component for the economy in Santa Maria and the region. Between 1859 and 1874, four men named Rudolph Cook, John Thornburg, Isaac Fesler and Isaac Miller, built their homes close to each other on today's Broadway and Main Street in Santa Maria. The townsite was recorded in 1875 as the town of Grangerville, before changing to Central City. The town was finally renamed Santa Maria in 1885, because mail was often mistakenly sent to Central City, Colorado. Santa Maria was chosen from the name Juan Pacifico Ontiveros had given his property 25 years earlier. In modern day Santa Maria, a six block square in the center of town are made up of streets named after the four settlers. The Santa Maria Valley has a history of oil as well, and successful oil exploration in the area began in 1888. By 1957 there were 1,775 wells in operation in the valley, producing more than $640 million worth of oil. Santa Maria is home to one of the five best community colleges in California, the Allan Hancock College. The college is ranked as one of the top 120 community colleges in the country and features a 105-acre park-like campus that provides students with first-class teaching and state of the art technology, the renowned college is also known for its distinguished athletic programs, which have included major football coaches like John Madden and Gunther Cunningham. In addition, Allan Hancock College boasts one of the finest theatre programs in the state, the Pacific Conservatory of the Performing Arts. The star-studded alumni include Robin Williams, Kathy Bates and Zac Efron. The city itself has been featured in numerous movies, such as Pirates of the Caribbean (2006 and 2007); Sideways and Hidalgo. Albeit being famous for many things, Santa Maria's primary signature feature is its excellent variety of barbequed meat. The tri-tip steak, a cut of beef from the bottom sirloin, comes from Santa Maria and became a local specialty in the 1950s. Today, whenever tri-tip or other meats are rubbed with salt, pepper and spices and cooked whole or grilled over local read oak wood, it is referred to as Santa Maria-style barbecue. Another thing Santa Maria can offer passionate foodies is excellent wines. The city, along with neighboring Lompoc, Los Alamos and Santa Ynez Valleys, together combine one of the nation's largest wine-producing regions; the Santa Barbara Wine Country. So grab your fellow wine connoisseurs and head out for a wine-tasting trip!
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