Situated atop a stony bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean, this 5.6-acre park was originally part of the purchase of 400 acres of former pueblo lands by speculator Frank Botsford in 1886. One year later, Botsford and business partner George Heald surveyed and subdivided the land to create a coastal village called La Jolla Park. Inspired by the nineteenth-century City Beautiful Movement, the two men set aside a segment of land adjacent to the La Jolla Cove for use as a public park. The development of the park was, in part, guided by New York City landscape architect Samuel Parsons, who encouraged the planting of salt resistant flora, including the cypress tree groves, which have since become an integral feature of the landscape. Known alternatively as La Jolla Park and La Jolla Shoreline Park, the landscape was renamed Ellen Browning Scripps Park in 1927 in honor of the local journalist and philanthropist.
Located thirteen miles northwest of downtown San Diego, the park comprises a 3.8-acre, irregularly shaped lawn elevated more than twelve feet above three separate beaches. Commencing at La Jolla Cove to the east and extending westward to Shell Beach, the beaches make up a large part of the park’s approximately 1,500 feet of shoreline. The lawn, which gradually slopes downwards to the cliff face, is encircled by a concrete path that provides access to a series of scenic overlooks, as well as to the beaches through descending staircases and ramps. Ice plants and other coastal flora canvas the surrounding bluffs and diminish erosion. The park’s roadside edge is lined with Mexican fan palms, originally planted by La Jolla resident Walter Lieber in 1904. Canopy cover is provided by Monterey cypress, Australian tea, and single trunk dragon trees. Structures include a single-story, wood-framed building that houses the La Jolla Bridge Club (designated as a local landmark in 2009) and a lifeguard station that overlooks La Jolla Cove.