The Full Wiki

History of San Diego, California: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.


(Redirected to History of San Diego article)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Californian poppy
History of California
To 1899
Gold Rush (1848)
US Civil War (1861-1865)
Since 1900
Los Angeles
San Diego
San Francisco
San Jose

The recorded history of the San Diego, California region goes back to the Spanish penetration of California in the 16th century.


Pre-colonial and colonial period

Cabrillo National Monument, San Diego

The area has long been inhabited by the Kumeyaay people. The first European to visit the region was Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo. Cabrillo was Portuguese (his name in Portuguese was Joao Rodrigues Cabrilho) but he was a long-term resident of Spanish America. He was commissioned by Viceroy Antonio de Mendoza to continue the explorations of California. In 1542, Cabrillo discovered San Diego Bay, which he named San Miguel.[1] He went ashore, probably in the Ballast Point area of Point Loma. His landing is re-enacted every year at the Cabrillo Festival sponsored by Cabrillo National Monument.

The bay and the area of present-day San Diego were given their current name sixty years later by Sebastián Vizcaíno when he was mapping the coastline of Alta California for Spain in 1602.[2] The explorers camped near a Native American village called Nipaguay and celebrated mass in honor of San Diego de Alcala (Saint Didacus of Alcalá). California was then part of the Viceroyalty of New Spain under the Audiencia of Guadalajara.

In 1769, Gaspar de Portolà and his expedition founded the Presidio of San Diego (military post), and on July 16, Franciscan friars Junípero Serra, Juan Viscaino and Fernando Parron raised and blessed a cross, establishing the first mission in Upper California, Mission San Diego de Alcala.[3] Colonists began arriving in 1774; the following year, the native people rebelled. They killed the priest and two others, and burned the mission.[4] Father Serra organized the rebuilding, and two years later a fire-proof adobe structure was built. By 1797 the mission had become the largest in California, with over 1,400 natives associated with it.

Mexican period

In 1821, Spain recognized Mexico's independence. The San Diego mission was secularized in 1834, and 432 people petitioned Governor José Figueroa to form a pueblo. Commandant Santiago Arguello endorsed it. Juan María Osuna was elected the first alcalde (mayor), winning over Pío Pico in the 13 ballots cast.

The original town of San Diego was located 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. Imported goods and exports (primarily tallow and hides) had to be carried over the La Playa Trail[5] to the anchorages in Point Loma. This arrangement was suitable only for a very small town. In 1830 the population was about 600; in 1838 the town lost its pueblo status because of its dwindling population, estimated as 100 to 150 residents.[6]

Joining the United States

Alta California became part of the United States in 1850 following the Mexican defeat in the Mexican-American War and the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. San Diego, still little more than a village, was incorporated as a city and was named the county seat of the newly established San Diego County. The United States Census reported the population of the town as 650 in 1850 and 731 in 1860.[7]

In 1867 a newcomer to San Diego named Alonzo Horton became convinced that the town needed a location nearer the water to improve trade. He bought 960 acres (390 ha) of bayfront land several miles south of the town, an area that would become Downtown San Diego. He built a wharf and began to promote development there. The area was referred to as New Town or the Horton Addition. Despite opposition from the residents of the original settlement, which became known as “Old Town”, businesses and residents flocked to New Town and San Diego experienced the first of its many real estate booms. In 1871 government records were moved to a new county courthouse in New Town, and by the 1880s New Town (or downtown) had totally eclipsed Old Town as the heart of the growing city.[8]

In 1885 the transcontinental railroad came to San Diego, and the population boomed, reaching 16,159 by 1890.

The upper floor of the Hill building, located at 6th and F streets, was the temporary location of the San Diego Normal School. Students and staff can be seen in the windows here in 1898. The school would later expand and change names several times until deciding on the current name, San Diego State University.

Consolidation as an urban center


Military presence

Significant U.S. Navy presence began in 1901, with the establishment of the Navy Coaling Station in Point Loma, and expanded greatly during the 1920s.[9] Camp Kearny was established in 1917, closed in 1920, later reopened, and eventually became the site of Marine Corps Air Station Miramar. Naval Base San Diego was established in 1922, as was the San Diego Naval Hospital. The Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego was commissioned in 1921 and the San Diego Naval Training Center[10] in 1923. (The Naval Training Center was closed on April 30, 1997.)

World's fairs

San Diego hosted two World's Fairs, the Panama-California Exposition in 1915 and the California Pacific International Exposition in 1935. The expositions left a lasting legacy in the form of Balboa Park and the San Diego Zoo.

Modern San Diego

Since World War II, the military has played a leading role in the local economy. Following the end of the Cold War the military presence diminished considerably. San Diego has since become a center of the emerging biotech industry and is home to telecommunications giant Qualcomm.

Recent Scandals

Beginning in 2003, the public became aware of an ongoing pension fund scandal which has left the city with an estimated $1.4 billion pension fund gap. Despite mounting problems with city finances the incumbent Mayor Dick Murphy narrowly won re-election with a plurality of votes. Some controversy ensued during and after the election when, contrary to the San Diego City Charter, current city councilmember Donna Frye was allowed to run as a write-in candidate in the general election (having not run in the primary). While more may have intended to vote for her than Dick Murphy, many did not fill in the "bubble" next to her written name and thus these were not counted as legitimate votes.

With mounting pressure, Mayor Dick Murphy, in April 2005, announced his intent to resign by mid-July. A few days after his resignation two city councilmembers, Ralph Inzunza and deputy mayor Michael Zucchet, who was to take Murphy's place, were convicted for taking bribes in a scheme to get the city's "no touch" laws at strip clubs repealed. Both subsequently resigned; Zucchet's conviction was later overturned. A third councilman died before trial.

On July 26, 2005, city councilmember Donna Frye finished first in the special election to replace Dick Murphy with 43% of the vote, but was without the majority required to win outright. She lost the run-off election to the second place finisher, former San Diego police chief Jerry Sanders on a November 8, 2005 ballot.

Beyond the issues regarding the city government, San Diego has experienced scandal on the Federal level as well. On November 28, 2005, former member of the U.S. House of Representatives, Randy "Duke" Cunningham, resigned after a bribery scandal. Cunningham represented California's 50th congressional district, one of San Diego's congressional districts. Because of the scandal, San Diego briefly removed references to its longtime nickname, "America's Finest City", from its official city website, as reported by the Associated Press. As of December 5, 2005, the nickname appeared on San Diego's website once again, as pledged by mayor Jerry Sanders at his inauguration ceremony.

Other recent problems for San Diego have revolved around the city's troubled relationship with the San Diego Chargers and that football team's request for an improved venue. The somewhat embittered negotiations between the City and the Chargers have led many to speculate that the Chargers will attempt to leave San Diego, with Los Angeles as the supposed destination.

Urban renewal

The downtown area of San Diego suffered from neglect and blight in the 1960s, but under the initiative of the Centre City Development Corporation, the area has been rejuvenated. Since the 1980s the city has seen the opening of Horton Plaza, the revival of the Gaslamp Quarter, and the construction of the San Diego Convention Center. A recent boom on the construction of condos and skyscrapers (especially focusing on mixed-use facilities), a gentrification trend especially in Little Italy, and the inauguration of Petco Park in the once blighted East Village highlight the continuing development of downtown. Center city population is expected to rise to 90,000 residents within a decade; 30,000 people currently reside in downtown San Diego.[citation needed]

This renewal extended to the surrounding neighborhoods in the 1990s, especially in older urban neighborhoods immediately north of Balboa Park such as North Park and City Heights.


  1. ^ San Diego Historical Society
  2. ^ Journal of San Diego History, October 1967
  3. ^ Leffingwell, Randy (2005), California Missions and Presidios: The History & Beauty of the Spanish Missions. Voyageur Press, Inc., Stillwater, MN. ISBN 0-89658-492-5, p. 17
  4. ^ Ruscin, Terry (1999), Mission Memoirs, Sunbelt Publications, San Diego, CA. ISBN 0-932653-30-8, p. 11
  5. ^ Historic La Playa Trail Association website
  6. ^ San Diego Historical Society timeline
  7. ^ San Diego Historical Society population table
  8. ^ Engstrand, Iris Wilson, California’s Cornerstone, Sunbelt Publications, Inc., 2005, p. 80
  9. ^ University of San Diego: Military Bases in San Diego
  10. ^ Naval Training Center San Diego

External links


Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address