Three Arch Bay Vintage Postcards

The history of Three Arch Bay seen through the medium of postcards

Learn a little bit about the history of Three Arch Bay at the same time
you enjoy old postcards of Three Arch Bay!
Three arch Bay

Three Arch Bay - 1907

Three Arch Bay - 1907 postcard

This unusual oval framed image was taken from the rocks of Three Arch Bay, looking south toward Dana Point in the distance. It has a Laguna Beach postmark of April 15, 1907.



Three Arches near Laguna Beach Cal - 1907          Arches near Laguna Beach, Cal. - 1907
Three Arches near Laguna Beach, Cal. - 1907

This postcard shows a lot of hand-painted vegatation where there isn't any! The photo was probably taken by the same photographer that took the photo below, as the same man is waving from the island, and the same family can be seen in the arches. The undivided back of the card indicates that it is pre-1907.

The writing on the lower part of the card reads:

"About three miles from our house. We often have picnics here. Susie"


Three Arches, Laguna, Cal. - 1908

Three Arches, Laguna Cal. - 1908 postcard

As you can see, Whale Island has changed very little over the past one hundred years, but the fashion of the beach goers in front of the arches sure has. And as always, there's invariably some fool climbing to the top today too. Is that Cousin Lester up there?

At one time in the late 1920's, Cecil B. DeMille planned to purchase Whale Island and build a castle on top, but this plan thankfully fell through. But again in 1965, Dr. Ervin Watkins, a Laguna Beach dentist, had plans drawn up to build four homes on top of Whale Island. The plans called for removing the top 14 feet of the island, with the earth being dumped over the West and North sides to create a private beach. A driveway and bridge running alongside the present ramp to the beach would cross over to the island. The owner of the island at that time, Verine Cole, listened to the many objections of the residents of Three Arch Bay, and reluctantly but thankfully decided not to go through with the project, but I worry that this idiocy may actually be entertained again by some future owner of Whale Island. This must never happen!

This card is postmarked in 1908, yet I believe the photo was taken many years earlier. I am currently researching this matter through investigation of records of the Newman Post Card Co., and hope to arrive at a more correct date for this picture eventually.

You can try to read the back of the card if you want - Good Luck!



Dragons Cave Point on the Laguna Coast

Dragons Cave Point on the Laguna Coast - 1910's Postcard

This misnamed postcard nearly missed my eye, but on taking a second glance, I realized that it was Three Arch Bay. The date is a rough guess based on the publishers name and the configuration on the back which narrows it down to between 1910 and 1925. Since there is nothing to be seen on the cliffs above, it must be before 1920. I don't know where they came up with "Dragons Cave", but the shadow on the cliff cast from the rock near the center may have been the inspiration.



Coastline of Three Arch Bay - mid 1920s

Coastline - Laguna Beach - Mid 1920's postcard

I have the same view on this photographic postcard in a huge full-sized version. There is no postmark on the back, but the date would be sometime between 1920 and 1924. You can see that most of the roads of Three Arch Bay housing tract have yet to laid out. See some amazing close-ups of this photograph.



Rocks of Three Arch Bay - 1920s

A Bit of Laguna Beach Coastline - California - 1920's postcard

I've matched up the location of this hand-tinted postcard from the early 1920's to the rocks at the extreme north end of the Three Arch Bay community. The picture was taken from the rocks on the north side of Picture Bay looking south.



The Famous Three Arches postcard - 1927

The Famous Three Arches - 1927 postcard

Although I am unsure of the date, because the card is unused and there is no date anywhere else to be found, I have seen others from this same series and printer and they all have postmarks from 1927 onward. The lack of homes on the far cliffs also seems to verify this assumed date. Either way, It looks great!



Homes on the Cliffs - 1932

Homes on the Cliffs at Three Arch Bay - 1932 postcard

This linen postcard mailed in 1932 shows the famous "lighthouse" overlooking one of the smaller coves at the north end of Three Arch Bay. The lighthouse is not an actual navigation device, but a part of the home, built by Hollywood Director / Producer Edward H. Griffith, just out of view to the left. The lighthouse is quite a large structure, over four stories high. A ladder is used to gain entrance to each higher floor, through a trapdoor that is lockable from above, until one reaches the very top - a secluded reading library. Mr. Griffith sure loved his privacy!



Three Arch Bay - 1932 postcard

Three Arch Bay, near Laguna Beach - 1932 postcard

Caption on back

An unusual aerial view of Three Arch Bay on this beautiful linen postcard shows how much open space there was not too long ago. I believe this was taken around 1932, but I have yet to confirm that date.



hand-tinted from 1935

Laguna Beach, California - 1935 Postcard

A hand-tinted photographic postcard sent by Dora Hill, one of the first residents of Three Arch Bay, to her friend "Mrs. Bonnelli" in Wasco California. Read the back of the card here.

Although postmarked in 1935, because of the scarcity of visible homes on the far cliffs it appears as though the picture comes from an earlier time, possibly the mid-1920's.



Postcard of Three Arch Bay - 1947

Three Arch Bay, near Laguna Beach, California - 1947 postcard

Little has changed in the 55 years since this beautiful linen postcard was mailed in 1947... A few more homes out on the far point today, but otherwise it looks the same now as then. The English style brick mansion in the center, called Cliff Coté, shows almost no change at all. It's twisted brick and wood stairs still being one of the community's main accessways to the sand. The home was built in 1933 by General Proctor out of used brick gathered in the wake of the devastating great Long Beach earthquake of 1933. General Proctor had stayed in a similar house in France during WW1, and became enamored of it's style and charm.



Three Arch Bay Postcard - 1957

Three Arch Bay - 1957 postcard

From the cliffs at the south end of the beach looking north toward Whale Island, with the waves smashing against Bird Rock in the foreground and the hills of Emerald Bay in the far distance. I would guess that this looks like a typical winter day, when the beach is empty, the skies are brilliant blue, and the waves come from the north, caused by powerful storms in the Bering Sea. My favorite time of year!



Three Arch Bay 1962

Three Arch Bay - 1962 postcard

Taken from almost the same angle as the card above, with almost the same weather, and amazingly enough, almost the same wave crashing against Bird Rock!



Aliso Beach to Three Arch Bay.

Aliso Beach Pier, South Laguna and Three Arch Bay - 1972 postcard

An aerial view postcard taken above Aliso Beach looking south toward Three Arch Bay, with Dana Point in the far distance. In the foreground is the now vanished Aliso Beach Pier - and I say "Good Riddance!". The 600ft. pier was built in 1971 by an arrogant and misguided Orange County Board of Supervisors at a cost of $670,000. The huge surf from the El Niño storms of 1983 and 1986 damaged the pier extensively. It was refurbished at a cost of 1.2 million dollars, but again, the monster 25ft. waves from the storms of 1997 finished off this eyesore for good by damaging almost 1/2 of the 35ft. high concrete pilings...Yeah storms!. It was finally removed completely in 1999, allowing our beautiful coast to regain it's dignity.

Recycled concrete from this monstrosity went into the construction of the pools and handrails of the Orange County Zoo's "Coastal Cove" exhibit. Although I'm against the inhumane capture and display of our gentle neighbors in the sea, and protest this exhibit, at least some small measure of good was made from this horrible and unwanted blight upon our coast.



TAB 1985
Three Arch Bay - Monarch Bay Area - 1985

A great photographic postcard, eh? I like this one!


Three Arch Bay - 1990

Three Arch Bay - 1990 postcard

An aerial view above Three Arch Bay awkwardly looking toward the north.


Mis Named Travesty - 2004

Horribly Misnamed Postcard of Three Arch Bay - 2004

Ackk! How completely lame and unprofessional for this company to release this newest and wonderful postcard of Three Arch Bay and then labeling it as "Dana Point", and even worse, "Laguna Niguel". It made me sick to see this travesty.

<sarcasm> Wow... Now we live in Laguna Niguel. Oh boy! </sarcasm>



© 1986 - 2010 Steve Turnbull
last updated July 21, 2024