Since I have relocated back to San Diego from the East Coast I have been experiencing a whirlwind of reintegration into my much missed SoCal lifestyle. Summer concerts in the park, rock climbing, beach, sun, hiking, leisure-filled evenings, and bourbon-filled nights. I have missed it. Now that I am back and blogging, I thought it would be fun to devote part of my blog to San Diego and all it has to offer. Over time this project will grow and who knows where it will end up. You’ll have to keep checking back to see.
Endless white sand beaches stretch along the Pacific, buttressed by coastal cliffs dotted with colorful and unique houses, palm trees, and remnants of Old Spanish Days. At the center beats the heartbeat of the city where cutting-edge businesses lead modern-day telecommunications, software, biotechnology, defense, and green industries while locals and tourists partake in food, art, and nighttime music and sporting events in the Gaslamp District. If you look outwards towards the rest of the county area, an array of family attractions and natural habitats, desert oases, and mountain hiking trails and camping areas provide 365 days of entertainment and absconded retreat from the mundane. It’s no wonder that San Diego is considered a worldwide tourist destination. It really is a small piece of heaven on earth.
For those completely new to San Diego, here is a brief historical snapshot of the city:
San Diego is the eighth-largest city in the United States and second in California. It lies in the southwest corner of California, an estimated 120 miles south of the city of Los Angeles and 20 miles north of Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico.
Originally inhabited by the Kumeyaay people, San Diego was first discovered by explorer Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo in 1542 but it wasn’t until 200 years later that Europeans began settling in the area. The first European settlement on the West Coast was in 1769, in what is now Old Town San Diego State Historic Park. Led by Spanish administrator Gaspar de Portolà, the settlement founded the Presidio of San Diego, which included the Mission de Alcala and first military post. Colonist began arriving in 1774 and in 1775 the indigenous Kumeyaay people rebelled against the Spanish settlement. By 1797 the rebellion has successfully been squashed and the Mission expanded under the leadership of Father Serra. Many of the Kumeyaay people were converted and designated as “Mission Indians” to live and work at the Mission.
In the late 1860s, Downtown San Diego was created when Alonzo Horton founded “New Town” on the San Diego Bay. By the late 1870s San Diego rivaled San Francisco as one of the top trading posts along the Pacific and experienced a population boom when the transcontinental railroad was expanded to include the city.
Across the San Diego Bay is the Hotel del Coronado, built in 1888. The Del, as it is fondly termed, is considered one of old Hollywood’s favorite playgrounds. Its popularity was established in the early 1900s and was a favorite of darlings Douglas Fairbanks, Rudolph Valentino, Charlie Chaplin, Clark Cable, Marilyn Monroe, and Mae West during the Prohibition and Great Depression periods and was featured in classic movies Some Like It Hot, Wicked Wicked, The Stunt Man, and My Blue Heaven.
Since WWI the military has been a constant presence. San Diego is home to the largest naval fleet in the world and is the birthplace of naval aviation. It includes major submarine and shipbuilding yards, is home to several major defense contracting companies, and by 2008 boasted over 53 ships, 120 tenant commands, and more than 35,000 sailors and defense personnel.
San Diego was also the host of two World Fairs in the early 20th century—the Panama-California Exposition World Fair in 1915, celebrating the opening of the Panama Canal, and the California Pacific International Exposition in 1935. Both fairs were celebrated in Balboa Park, known for its Spanish Baroque architecture.