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Cabrillo National Monument
U.S. National Register of Historic Places
U.S. Historic District
U.S. National Monument
Cabrillo National Monument is located in California
Nearest city: San Diego, California
Coordinates: 32°40′23″N 117°14′19″W / 32.67306°N 117.23861°W / 32.67306; -117.23861Coordinates: 32°40′23″N 117°14′19″W / 32.67306°N 117.23861°W / 32.67306; -117.23861
Area: 143.9 acres (58.2 ha)
Built/Founded: 1542
Architect: US Lighthouse Board; National Park Service
Architectural style(s): Late 19th And 20th Century Revivals
Visitation: 826,615 (2005)
Governing body: National Park Service
Added to NRHP: October 15, 1966[1]
Designated NMON: October 14, 1913[2]
NRHP Reference#: 66000224
Plaque at Cabrillo Monument, Point Loma, near San Diego, CA

Cabrillo National Monument is located at the southern tip of the Point Loma Peninsula in San Diego, California. It commemorates the landing of Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo at San Diego Bay on September 28, 1542. This event marked the first time that a European expedition had set foot on what later became the west coast of the United States. On October 14, 1913, by presidential proclamation, Woodrow Wilson reserved 0.5 acres (2,000 m2) of Fort Rosecrans for "The Order of Panama . . . to construct a heroic statue of Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo."[2] By 1926 no statue had been placed and the Order of Panama was defunct, so Calvin Coolidge authorized the Native Sons of the Golden West to erect a suitable monument.[2] The heroic statue of Cabrillo, looking out over the bay, was executed by sculptor Alvaro de Bree for the Portuguese Government in 1939, who then donated it to the United States. The sandstone monument is 14 feet (4.3 m) tall and weighs 14,000 pounds (6,400 kg). The adjacent museum screens a film about Cabrillo's voyage and has exhibits about the expedition. The area of the national monument was enlarged significantly by Presidents Eisenhower and Ford.[3] As with all historical units of the National Park Service, Cabrillo was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on October 15, 1966.[1]

The annual Cabrillo Festival Open House is held each October on Sunday. It commemorates Cabrillo with a reenactment of his landing at Ballast Point, in San Diego Bay. Other events are held above at the National Monument and include Kumeyaay, Portuguese, and Mexican singing and dancing, booths with period and regional food, a historical reenactment of a 16th century encampment, and children's activities.

The park offers a view of San Diego's harbor and skyline, as well as Coronado and Naval Air Station North Island. On clear days, a wide expanse of the Pacific Ocean, Tijuana, and Mexico's Coronado Islands are also visible.

At the highest point of the park stands the Old Point Loma Lighthouse, which has been a San Diego icon since 1854. The lighthouse was closed in 1891, and a new one opened at a lower elevation, because fog and low clouds often obscured the light at its location 129 meters (422 feet) above sea level. Visitors may enter the lighthouse and view some of the living areas there.

The area encompassed by the national monument includes various former military installations, such as coastal artillery batteries, built to protect the harbor of San Diego from enemy warships. Many of these installations can be seen while walking around the area. A former army building hosts an exhibit that tells the story of military history at Point Loma.

In the winter, migrating gray whales can be seen off the coast. Native coastal sage scrub habitat along the Bayside Trail offers a quiet place to reflect and relax as well as a noteworthy habitat for wildlife. Guided birdwatching walks are held on a regular basis. On the west side of the park is a small but beautiful stretch of rocky intertidal coastline, where tide pools are accessible at low tide.

The park's activities are supported by the Cabrillo National Monument Foundation[4], a private nonprofit organization which helps with educational activities and special projects as well as operating a bookstore at the site. The foundation has also published several books on historic and scientific topics related to the Monument.



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