With its abundance of natural beauty and resources, temperate climate and rich cultural treasures, San Diego Bay shines as one of the finest urban locations on earth. The city is located in the southwest corner of California sharing a border with Tijuana, Mexico. It is one of the largest cities in the United States, ranking number eight, with a population of over 3 million.
It is situated between the stunning Pacific coast to the west, and the rolling foothills and desert to the east. Its topography is ever changing with picturesque views around nearly every corner and wonderful weather to enjoy.
The first humans to inhabit this diverse and promising land date as far back 20,000 years ago. Archeological discoveries have uncovered artifacts from many Native American tribes, including the Kumeyaay, who hunted and gathered along the coastal areas, into the mountains of Cuyamaca and Laguna, to the northeast deserts beyond the Salton Sea and the southeast deserts to what is now Baja California, Mexico. The Kumeyaay lived peacefully in San Diego for many centuries.
In 1542, European settlers arrived to plant the flag of Spain in San Diego soil. Juan Rodriquez Cabrillo, a Portuguese explorer who sailed the vessel “San Salvador” from Navidad, Mexico, named the area San Miguel and claimed it as Spanish territory. There were nearly 30,000 Kumeyaay in the area at that time.
In 1602, Sebastian Vizcaino, an explorer from Spain, arrived on the flagship “San Diego” and named the area San Diego de Alcalá after the Spanish Catholic saint. ”San Antonio” and “San Carlos”, two more ships from Spain, sailed into the harbor of San Diego in 1769 with a group of pioneers who settled in Presidio Hill, located near what is now called Old Town. This group of missionaries planned to convert the Kumeyaay to Christianity. Led by California Governor Gaspar de Portola and Father Junipero Serra, they founded Mission San Diego de Alcalá, the first of 21 California missions.
The Mission was moved several miles east, close to the San Diego River in 1774, but was burned down by the Kumekaay in 1775. Within a year the Kumeyaay and the Spanish rebuilt it.
During this time the first colonists arrived in San Diego from the Baja California Mission San Fernando Velicata.
The 11-year Mexican Revolution resulted in San Diego’s independence from Spain. Under Mexican rule from 1821-1846, San Diego became home to men called the “great dons” who owned large adobe ranchos where they raised cattle. The cattle hides were sold to American traders from east coast states. The great dons included Jaun Bandini, Jose Estudillo, Pio Pico and Santiago Arguello who received private land grants from the Mexican government, then settled in San Diego and became part of the community.
They established the Pueblo of San Diego with its secular government seat situated in what is now known as Old Town. The estates of many of the dons still exist in Old Town and are preserved as restaurants, museums and shops.
U.S. – Mexican War
The United States declared war on Mexico in 1846, invading Mexico from the east and reaching San Diego in December.
Led by General Andres Pico, Mexican Californios fought with American Soldiers during the Battle of Pasqual. The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was signed in 1848, ending the war between Mexico and the United States.
In 1850, the City of San Diego was officially established in California, the 31st state in America.
A Growing American City
Mayor Joshua Bean was elected as the first mayor and many more Americans began to call San Diego home. One of these Americans was Thomas Whaley who built the Court House and County Seat in 1857 in Old Town.
In 1867 Alonzo Horton arrived from San Francisco and purchased 800 acres of land that he developed into New San Diego. He built a large shopping plaza and hotel. The city began to grow slowly at this time, but after the first railroad was built in 1885, connecting San Diego to the rest of the country, a land boom resulted and the population of San Diego grew to 40,000.
Between 1886 and 1888 the historic Gaslamp Quarter was built and the first public transit system, the San Diego Street Car Co., was founded. Streetcars began operating over a two mile track on Broadway in the Gaslamp Quarter. Many businesses were started and wealthy people built their homes nearby in Banker’s Hill. The Hotel Del Coronado was built by Elisha S. Babcock in 1886 and is still one of the most enchanting hotels in the world. In 1912 the U.S. Navy began to build bases in San Diego, establishing it as a “Navy Town”.
With the onset of World War II, the city became a key military port and the work generated by major war industries resulted in exponential population growth. San Diego is currently the eight largest city in the United States and continues to attract people from all over the world.
Modern San Diego
San Diego is a thriving multicultural city alive with sights, sounds and flavors from around the globe. Its vast and varied terrain stretches from the Pacific coast, to the foothills and mountains, to Anza Borrego Desert State Park. Its proximity to Mexico makes it a unique location where people and customs blend gracefully. ‘
The city is home to many attractions, including its beautiful beaches and bays, Sea World, San Diego Zoo and Wild Animal Park, Lego Land, and Balboa Park, which is the largest urban cultural park in the United States. With the San Diego Zoo as its central focus, the park also has many museums, gardens, art galleries and theatres. San Diego and the surrounding area provide boundless opportunities for sailing, hiking, camping, fishing, diving, surfing, observing wildlife, swimming, biking and nearly any outdoor activity imaginable.
Torrey Pines has become a popular spot for para-gliders and hang gliders. San Diego County is also home to many first class golf courses and hosts a variety of spectator sports. The Padres, San Diego’s baseball team, play their home games at Petco Park, centered in downtown San Diego, and the Chargers, San Diego’s football team, play at Qualcomm Stadium.
The economy in San Diego is largely comprised of agriculture, iotechnology/biosciences, computer sciences, electronics manufacturing, defense-related manufacturing, financial and business services, ship-repair and construction, software development, telecommunications, and tourism. San Diego has grown to become a diverse, cosmopolitan, as well as casual metropolis unlike most any other city in the world. It welcomes one and all as a prime destination for residence and tourism alike.Book a Bay Cruise