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San Clemente is a city in Orange County, California,
United States. As of 2005, the city population was
65,338. San Clemente is the southernmost city in the
county, six miles south of San Juan Capistrano. Its
location makes it the only city in Orange County
closer to San Diego than to Los Angeles.
Prior to the arrival of the Spanish, the area was
inhabited by what came to be known as the Juaneno
Indians. After the founding of the Mission San Juan
Capistrano, the local natives were conscripted to
work for the mission.
The great city of San Clemente was founded in 1925
by real estate developer Ole Hanson who named it San
Clemente after a town in Spain, as it were San
Clemente Island was named after the city later since
it is directly west of the coast. Hanson envisioned
it as a Spanish-style coastal resort, a "Spanish
Village by the Sea." In an unprecedented move, he
had a clause added to the deeds requiring all
building plans to be submitted to an architectural
review board in an effort to ensure that future
development would retain some Spanish-style
influence (for example, for many years it was
required that all new buildings in the downtown area
have red tile roofs). It was incorporated in 1928
with a council-manager government.
Nixon's "Western White House"
In 1968 President Richard Nixon bought the H. H.
Cotton estate, one of the original homes built by
one of Hanson's partners. Nixon called it "La Casa
Pacifica," but it was nicknamed the "Western White
House", a term now commonly used for a President's
vacation home. It sits above one of the West Coast's
premier surfing spots, Trestles, and just north of
historic surfing beach San Onofre. During Nixon's
tenure it was visited by world leaders and cronies
alike, including Soviet Premier Leonid Brezhnev,
Mexican President Gustavo Diaz Ordaz, Japanese Prime
Minister Eisaku Sato, Henry Kissinger, and Bebe
Rebozo. Following his resignation, Nixon retired to
San Clemente to write his memoirs. He later sold the
home and moved to Park Ridge, New Jersey. The
property also has historical tie to the democratic
side of the aisle; prior to Nixon's tenure at the
estate, H.H. Cotton was known to host Franklin D.
Roosevelt, who would visit to play cards in a small
outbuilding overlooking the Pacific Ocean.
San Clemente is located at 33'26'16' N, 117'37'13' W
(33.437828, -117.620397) GR1.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the
city has a total area of 47.6 km² (18.4 mi²). 45.6
km² (17.6 mi²) of it is land and 1.9 km² (0.7 mi²)
of it (4.03%) is water.
Interstate 5 runs through San Clemente. The Foothill
Transportation Corridor is planned to connect
Mission Viejo to the Orange/San Diego county line
and will run along the east side of San Clemente on
its way to I-5.
Additionally, the city is served by numerous daily
trains operated by Amtrak and Metrolink between Los
Angeles and San Diego.
San Clemente catches swells all year long. Going
from South to North, they include Trestles
(technically just south of the city line), North
Gate, State Park, Riviera, Lost Winds, Lasuen, The
Hole, Beach House, T-Street, The Pier, 204, North
Beach, and Poche.
San Clemente is also the surfing media capital of
the world as well as a premier surfing destination.
It is home to Surfing Magazine, The Surfer's
Journal, and Longboard Magazine, with Surfer
Magazine just up the freeway in San Juan Capistrano.
The city has a large concentration of surfboard
shapers and manufacturers. Additionally, many world
renowned surfers were raised in San Clemente or took
up long-term residence in town, including Shane
Beschen, Matt Archbold, Christian Fletcher, Mike
Parsons (originally from Laguna Beach), Colin
McPhillips, Colleen Mehlberg, Dino Andino, Chris
Ward, and many, many others.
San Clemente High School has won 6 out of 7 most
recent NSSA national surfing titles.
San Clemente was the setting of the 2005 movie
Brick. The town was chosen because it was
particularly close to the director Rian Johnson who
lived there and went to San Clemente High School,
which was the school depicted in the film. Many of
the locations in the film are still identical to the
real ones, with the exception of the Pin's house
which was flattened a week after exterior shooting;
the interior was constructed in a local warehouse.
The phone booths that were used all through the film
are mostly props that were placed on location.