A brief history...
So, San Diego. A little slice of heaven in Southern California. I often joke with my friends that I live in the greatest place in the world. I live in the greatest country in the world, in the greatest state of this country and in the best city of this state. Although, I am sure everyone else in the world would make the same case about their hometown. But, for those that have visited or lived in San Diego you have to admit...this is a pretty amazing place to live. I love the people, the weather, the lifestyle, the mix of beach, urban and city living. Mountains are two hours away. LA is only 2 hours away. Mexico is only minutes away and we have some of the best beaches in the world. However, there is something I always felt was missing in San Diego, and that was a sense of history. For some reason I have this fascination with history. I love visiting places rich in history and just visualizing myself during that time and in that place. Whether it be the Freedom Trail in Boston, the battlefield at Gettysburg, PA, or Kilmainham Prison in Dublin, Ireland, I always am taken away by the history of the places I visit. I love going to a bar in England and seeing on a plaque outside the bar that it was built in 1610. But when I walk through San Diego, everything feels post 1950. Where is the history of San Diego? Well it exists, but I think one would argue that it just doesn't get the exposure as many other cities or countries do. San Diego has had a relatively quiet place in history and so
So I decided to hit up Wikipedia and read about the history of San Diego. I was happy to find out that we had to have some history!
The area of San Diego has been inhabited for more than 10,000 years by the Kumeyaay Indians. The first European to visit the region was Portuguese-born explorer Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo sailing under the Spanish Flag, who sailed his flagship San Salvador from Navidad, New Spain. In 1542, Cabrillo claimed the bay for the Spanish Empire and named the site San Miguel. In November of 1602, Sebastián Vizcaíno was sent to map the California coast. Arriving on his flagship San Diego, Vizcaíno surveyed the harbor and what are now Mission Bay and Point Loma and named the area for the Catholic Saint Didacus, a Spaniard more commonly known as San Diego. On November 12, 1602, the first Christian religious service of record in Alta California was conducted by Fray Antonio de la Ascensión, a member of Vizcaíno's expedition, to celebrate the feast day of San Diego.
In 1769, Gaspar de Portolà established the Fort Presidio of San Diego overlooking Old Town. Around the same time, Mission San Diego de Alcalá was founded by Franciscan friars under Father Junípero Serra. By 1797, the mission boasted the largest native population in Alta California, with over 1,400 Neophytes living in and around the mission proper. It is the southern end in California of the historic mission trail El Camino Real. After Mexico won its independence from Spain in 1821, Mission San Diego de Alcalá's fortunes declined in the 1830s after the decree of secularization was enacted, as was the case with all of the missions under the control of Mexico. However, it remains an active Catholic church and is a National Historic Landmark.
In 1847 San Diego was a destination of the 2,000-mile (3,200 km) march of the Mormon Battalion, members of whom established a brickyard and built the city's first courthouse at the corner of San Diego Avenue and Mason Street in Old Town.
The Battle of San Pasqual, a battle of the Mexican-American War, was fought in the San Pasqual Valley which is now part of the city of San Diego. With the end of that war and the great influx of Americans during the gold rush of 1848, California was admitted to the United States in 1850. San Diego was designated the seat of the newly-established San Diego County and was incorporated as a city in 1850. The first city charter was adopted in 1889. The current city charter was adopted in 1931.
The original town of San Diego grew up at the foot of Presidio Hill, in the area which is now Old Town San Diego State Historic Park. The location was not ideal, being several miles away from navigable water. In the late 1860s Alonzo Horton promoted a move to "New Town", several miles south of the original settlement, in the area which became Downtown San Diego. People and businesses flocked to New Town because of its location on San Diego Bay convenient to shipping. New Town quickly eclipsed the original settlement, known to this day as Old Town, and became the economic and governmental heart of the city.
In the years before World War I, the Industrial Workers of the World labor union conducted a free speech fight in San Diego, arousing a brutal response.
San Diego hosted two World's Fairs, the Panama-California Exposition in 1915 and the California Pacific International Exposition in 1935. Many of the Spanish/Baroque-style buildings in the city's Balboa Park were built for these expositions, particularly the one in 1915. Intended to be temporary structures, most remained in continuous use until they progressively fell into disrepair. Most were eventually rebuilt using castings of the original facades to faithfully retain the architectural style.