Laguna Landmarks: The unknown history

Christian Yates, Graphic Designer

Laguna Beach has its fair share of landmarks and quirks that set it apart from other cities; for instance, the Lifeguard Tower, Greeter’s Corner, and its many art installations. However, there are lesser known symbols of Laguna. The most mythical of these are the supposed “lighthouse” near the entrance to the canyon and the hanging gate on the corner of Park and Forest.

Laguna’s fabled lighthouse isn’t actually a lighthouse at all. The cone-shaped building that some claim was a lighthouse in older times of flooding is a sewage venting tower. It was built in 1932 and was used by the sewage plant right below it. Over the years, Laguna has changed its sewage system so that the plant isn’t in use anymore, but it still remains as a landmark. The tower itself was designed to look like anything but a sewage tower, which has led to confusion over what it is, and what its purpose is. Nevertheless, it is safe to say that this sewage cylinder is not a lighthouse.

The next lesser known landmark is Laguna’s hanging gate right next to Chantilly’s Ice Cream. It hangs on a flagpole just outside of the shop and displays the following passage: “This gate hangs well and hinders none, refresh and rest then travel on.”

The gate was created around 1915 and originates from a contest to name a store where Chantilly’s stands today. The prize for giving the best name was a leather pillow. According to Images of America, Laguna Beach, a little girl suggested naming the store “The Gate,” after a pub her father had seen in England. She won the contest, and the hanging gate idea came with the name. Although considered unique by residents, the hanging gate appears fairly frequently in England, and each has a slightly different saying, but typically replaces the word “rest” with “pay.”

Although both the “lighthouse” and gate may not be the most popular Laguna landmarks, their histories and secrets give the city a uniqueness nearly unmatched by others.