Holy City, California facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts

Holy City is an unincorporated community in Santa Clara County, California. Once a Utopian community, it is arguably now a ghost town. The town is located in the Santa Cruz Mountains, off State Route 17 on Old Santa Cruz Highway, at 37°09′25″N 121°58′44″W / 37.1568904°N 121.9788476°W / 37.1568904; -121.9788476Coordinates: 37°09′25″N 121°58′44″W / 37.1568904°N 121.9788476°W / 37.1568904; -121.9788476 (37.1568904, -121.9788476). It is part of the Lexington Hills census designated place. Its ZIP code is 95026, and its area codes are 408 and 669.

California 2008 - Rob 106
Surviving building at Holy City, May 2008

Holy City was founded in 1919 by cult-leader William E. Riker and about thirty of his followers. Calling his ideology "The Perfect Christian Divine Way", Riker preached celibacy, temperance, white supremacy, and segregation of the races and sexes.

Holy City Art Glass Sign
Holy City Art Glass sign, September 2008

Riker bought the 142 acres (57 ha) that became Holy City. Here he offered tourist services including a restaurant and gas station. The town was incorporated in 1926.

A radio station was built in 1924 and went on the air on July 7 of that year under the call letters KFQU. The station went off the air in December 1931, and had its license renewal denied on January 11, 1932, due to "irregularities."

The religious community had no church; services were held in Riker's home. Holy City expanded to three hundred residents during the 1930s.

The town began to decline in the 1940s. With the construction of State Route 17, Holy City was no longer on the main route through the mountains. With the end of the Depression, many of Riker's followers were able to find work elsewhere. The town was disincorporated in 1959, and Riker lost control of the property. Several of the buildings mysteriously burned down shortly afterwards.

The Holy City Zoo, a comedy club in San Francisco, had the sign, table and chairs that all came from the original site.


Holy City, California Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.