Malibu Historic District

Surfers entering the water at Third Point, with Malibu Pier in the background, camera facing east.
Surfers entering the water at Third Point, with Malibu Pier in the background

Photograph by Michael Blum, courtesy of California State Historic Preservation Office

Quick Facts
Malibu Historic District is significant in the area of Recreation/Entertainment for its contribution to the growth and development of surfing from 1945 to 1959. Malibu played an important role in the development of surfboard design and production, in addition to surfing style. The long rides offered by Malibu’s waves placed it at the center of the evolution of surfing style and technology, as well as fueling the cultural evolution of what surfers looked like, in and out of the water. Malibu surfers perfected a relaxed, aggressive, “cool” style of surfing and many of the era’s best came from, or regularly surfed at, Malibu. Their accomplishments helped bring surfing into a modern age, and earned Malibu an international reputation as the destination for high-performance surfing. Although new ideas of surfing were developing worldwide, Malibu served as a cultural, technological, and intellectual arena for its expert surfers and surfboard shapers. It was a focal point for surfboard design theory, deconstruction of surfing style, and development of a lifestyle that defined this era of surfing while serving as a template for the next. Malibu is associated with the broader history of surfing as the place that best represents the evolution of modern surfing in the minds of both surfers and the general public. The period of significance begins in 1945 when pioneering surfboard shaper Bob Simmons dedicated his energies to shaping surfboards and thereby initiated a design program that, with others in the years to follow, dramatically changed surfboards’ design, production, and performance. The period of significance ends in 1959 with release of the feature film Gidget, adapted from the 1957 eponymous novella, which projected to the general public the stories and exploits of a group of Malibu surfers as a model for a youth oriented, California-inspired, beach culture.

Last updated: May 2, 2018