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  • Writer's picturePrinceton North

Unveiling the Samarkand neighborhood, Santa Barbara's Hidden Gem

Exploring the Heart's Desire: Living in Santa Barbara's Samarkand Neighborhood

Santa Barbara is renowned for its diverse neighborhoods, each with its unique charm and appeal. Among them, the Samarkand neighborhood stands out as a hidden gem. With a rich history, a strong sense of community, and a prime location, Samarkand is more than just a place to live; it's a lifestyle.

A Glimpse into Samarkand's Past

The name "Samarkand" itself carries a touch of the exotic, derived from an Old Persian word meaning "the land of heart’s desire." This neighborhood, situated between Las Positas, State Street, De La Vina, Oak Park, and the Freeway, has a fascinating history. It was initially associated with a Persian-style hotel converted from a boy’s school in 1920. Over time, Samarkand evolved into a distinct neighborhood with a unique identity.

The first home in Samarkand, built by Earle Ovington in 1920, marked the beginning of a community that would grow into what it is today. Ovington, a pilot, also established the Casa Loma Air Field with a runway that hosted legendary aviators like Lindbergh and Earhart.

The Neighborhood's Evolution

Samarkand has come a long way from its roots as open cattle range in the 19th century. Co-owned by Harry A. Hollister and A. C. Greenwell by 1910, the area saw its first subdivision in 1920 as the Casa Loma Tract. Many street names in Samarkand carry a Hollister flavor, connecting the neighborhood to the region's pioneer history.

The Samarkand Neighborhood Association plays a crucial role in fostering community engagement. Its mission is to provide a voice for the residents, addressing community needs, events, and concerns. Samarkand invites participation from residents and property owners within its boundaries, creating a collaborative environment.

Living in Samarkand: The Pros and Cons


  1. Prime Location: Samarkand's central location makes it incredibly convenient, providing easy access to upper State, Downtown Santa Barbara, and the 101 freeway.

  2. Scenic Beauty: Residents take pride in the neighborhood's aesthetics, with mature trees lining the streets and homeowners exhibiting a strong sense of ownership.

  3. Community Atmosphere: Samarkand fosters a sense of community. Residents enjoy leisurely walks on sidewalks, encountering friends and neighbors, creating a close-knit environment.

  4. Diverse Activities: From lawn bowling at MacKenzie Park to proximity to dining spots on State Street, Samarkand offers a variety of activities to suit different preferences.

  5. Convenience: Being close to amenities like Trader Joe's and Santa Barbara Muni golf course adds to the neighborhood's appeal.


  1. Noise: Some residents near Las Positas and the Earl Warren Showgrounds mention road noise and occasional loud events.

  2. Limited Views: Compared to other areas, Samarkand might not boast the same level of ocean views.

  3. Traffic: There can be traffic during peak hours, affecting morning and early evening routines.

  4. School Performance: While not bad, there's a desire for improvement in the performance of Adams school.

Living in Samarkand is more than a residential choice; it's an embrace of a lifestyle shaped by history, community, and convenience. The neighborhood, with its unique character and active community engagement, continues to be a desirable haven in the heart of Santa Barbara. Whether it's the serene walks under the canopy of trees or the vibrant community events, Samarkand captures the essence of what makes Santa Barbara a cherished place to call home.

Ready to make Samarkand your home? Discover the unique blend of history, community, and convenience waiting for you in this enchanting Santa Barbara neighborhood. Contact us now to explore your dream home in Samarkand, (805) 455-9066

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