History of Solvang California, The Danish Capital Of America- In 1910, a group of Danish educators from the Midwest met to establish a colony on the West Coast. The site selected was the beautiful Santa Ynez Valley. With its gentle climate and fertile agricultural potential, the valley was an ideal place for Americans of Danish descent and immigrant Danes to settle and build. In that year, they purchased nine thousand acres of the original Rancho San Carlos de Jonata for the future community. Soon, colonists began to arrive. They named their village Solvang, meaning "Sunny Valley."
The settlers erected a two-story building which served as their Folk School. As the first crops were planted in the fields, classes began and work was started on the larger Atterdag College, which was completed in 1914. While farming and ranching, the settlers worked hard to perpetuate the crafts and customs of their homeland.
Soon Danish architecture appeared in the village. Cobblestone streets, gas street lamps, thatched country-style roofs, gabled tile and copper roofs reflect the character of Copenhagen and adjoining provinces. Ferdinand Sorensen, known as the Father of Solvang's Danish architecture, built Solvang's first windmill. Today there are four windmills in the town proper.
Solvang's heritage is perpetuated in other ways, too. Each year during the third weekend in September, townspeople don their national costumes and participate in Solvang's Danish Days celebration. Danish Days is marked by the appearance of folk dancers and musicians; the serving of Aebleskiver, little pancake-like balls, at outdoor breakfasts; and a parade and festive entertainment.
Danish language traditions continue in Solvang at the Bethania Lutheran Church where services are held in Danish once a month. Members of the Danish Ladies Aid Society still conduct their meetings in the mother tongue.
Solvang has a year-round population of 4,600. Several old missions remain in the area and the flavor of Early California as well as Denmark can still be found in the Valley and the surrounding countryside.