The first European land exploration of Alta California, the Spanish Portolà expedition, camped near today’s Guadalupe on September 1, 1769. Franciscan missionary and expedition member Juan Crespi noted in his diary that they found “a very large lake”. The lake has since mostly filled in, leaving a low-lying plain traversed by the Santa Maria River and several tributaries.
When Mission La Purisima was established in 1787, the area became part of the mission’s pasture land. In 1840, following secularization of the mission, the area became part of the Rancho Guadalupe land grant. Rancho Guadalupe was settled by pioneers of many unique backgrounds, such as European, Chinese, Filipino, Japanese, and Mexican. The small town was incorporated as the city of Guadalupe on May 19, 1946. The city name honors Our Lady of Guadalupe, which is the Catholic title given to the Virgin Mary.