Short History of San Diego

English: Illustration depicting the death of F...

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History of San Diego 

On September 28, 1542, Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo sailed into what is now San Diego Bay–a region occupied by an estimated 20,000 members of indigenous tribes such as the Kumeyaay–under the Crown of Castile, of Spain. He named the area San Miguel, for about four more months before dying. His crew returned to their base in Mexico and left the area unsettled for another 60 years, until Sebastian Vizcaíno came in 1602 and named it after San Diego de Alcalá

In April, 1769, Spanish sailors help erect a canvas hospital on the beach in San Diego Bay to care for those

The Ship! The Ship! California is saved! Fathe...

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sailors sick with scurvy, and in the following month saw Fort Presidio established by Gaspar de Portolà as a camp on Presidio hill. In just two more months, Mission San Diego de Alcalá was officially founded as the first of 21 missions along the California coast. San Diego’s first colonists arrived toward the end of 1774.

When Mexico’s independence from Spain was declared in 1821, San Diego became part of Alta California. Fort Preidio was eventually abandoned, but settlers flourished in what would come to be known as Old Town, as the city was unofficially declared the capital of Upper and Lower California.

America and Mexico were at war from 1846-1848, with the resolution to the conflict being marked by the ceding of the California territory to the United States. In 1850, California was officially declared a state, while San Diego was deemed the seat of San Diego county and incorporated as a city. Joshua Bean was elected as the city’s first mayor in March of the same year.

Alonzo Erastus Horton arrived in San Diego in 1867, and immediately began purchasing land. He built commercial and residential lots and a wharf at the end of 5th Avenue in promotion of a move from Old Town to New Town–a location much more conveniently located near the bay–over the next two years, and in 1869, New Town started to take over.

In 1870, San Diego designated a 1,440 acre plot of land as City Park, which would eventually come to be known as Balboa Park. This is the first time that a city west of the Mississippi had done such a thing.

From 1901, the city experienced a tremendous growth in its military presence for the next 50 years, beginning with the Navy’s presence during the establishment of the Navy Coaling Station. Throughout World War II, San Diego acted as a central core of sorts for military activity and defense, with the city’s population doubling during and after the war as a result of the influx of military personnel. The military presence in San Diego continued to be an integral part of the local economy until after the Cold War, when the city was forced to expand into other areas of revenue such as scientific research and tourism.

To be Continued…

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One thought on “Short History of San Diego

  1. Hey, don’t forget Richard Henry Dana of world literature’s Two Years Before the Mast rode his horse right past the resort–along the other side of the San Diego river from La Playa (Ballast Point on Point Loma) to visit the Mission. He also visited and described Old Town. If I recall, it was in the mid 1820’s…?

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