San Diego is a vibrant and bustling city in southern California. This city is situated on the Pacific Ocean on San Diego Bay, only about 20 miles north of the United States Mexico border. The city of San Diego is divided into two areas. The largest part of this city extends to the north and east of the bay. The smaller portion extends from the southeast portion of the bay to the Mexican border.
Visitors flock to this area of California for a number of reasons, but how did the San Diego we know now come to be?
Before California Was a State
Before the Europeans landed in what we now know as San Diego, the first inhabitants of this area were the Kumeyaay people. These groups of people were Native American tribes that had Aztec roots.
The first Europeans to travel this region of North America were the Spaniards. With many Spaniards already setting up shop in Mexico, it only seemed to make sense that they were the first to travel north into what is now California. Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo traveled from Mexico to what we now know as San Diego in 1542. He docked his boat in the San Diego Bay on September 28, 1542. He chose the name San Miguel for this area of land.
Even though the first known landing in San Diego happened in 1542, not much happened in that area until over 200 years later, in 1769. The main historical event that happened between 1542 and 1769 was that Sebastian Vizcaino changed San Miguel’s name to San Diego after the Spanish monk, San Diego.
Then, beginning in 1769, the Spanish started creating missions across what we now know as the state of California. They made 21 missions in California from San Diego all the way up to Sonoma.
The United States annexed what is now California in the year 1846. It took another four years before California became the 31st state. Finally, in 1850, California officially became a state. By the time California became a state, San Diego only had a population of a couple of hundred people, but it was an incorporated area.
San Diego in the 1800s
Even though San Diego had a small population when California was granted statehood, the city slowly started developing. Some of what we know today to be landmarks came from this time period.
In 1855, the Old Point Loma Lighthouse was built. The Loma Lighthouse is now a historic site in this city. Other places that we now consider historic were constructed during this time. By the 1860’s San Diego still had a population that was less than one thousand people. The famous Balboa Park opened its gates in 1868.
Ten years down the line, in the 1870s, San Diego began to grow. From a town with less than one thousand people, this area had a population of a little over two thousand people.
The 1880s is where San Diego truly boomed. The population increased rapidly, and some of the most famous buildings in the city were built during this time. The Yuma building, Louis Bank of Commerce, and Llewelyn building are a few of those buildings.
San Diego in the 1900s
The early 20th century was another period where San Diego’s population grew. From the beginning of the 1990s to the mid-1990s, the population went from 18,000 to over 200,000. In the early 1900s, San Diego became home to what would eventually be one of the most prominent naval bases in the United States. Another addition to San Diego that would increase the number of visitors to the city was constructing their zoo in 1912.
In the early 1900s, the cities traditional economic source expanded when the Panama Canal opened. The city no longer solely relied on fishing and agriculture but manufacturing. World War II was another reason this city boomed economically in the 20th century. In 1942, the Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton was established, and then the Naval Amphibious Base Coronado in 1943. The majority of the city’s economy was focused on the military at this point.
By 1970, San Diego’s population grew to over half a million people. The city established a new public library in 1954. One of San Diego’s top attractions, Sea World, was built in 1964. The San Diego convention center came to be in 1989 has since hosted thousands of events since its opening.
One of the most memorable things that happened to San Diego as a city and community was when the San Diego Padres joined Major League Baseball. The town knew that their team had a chance of becoming an MLB team. The city built the San Padre stadium in 1967, and the team officially became an MLB team in 1969.
San Diego in the 21st Century
When the world entered the 21st century, the economy shifted in San Diego. This city used to rely on military manufacturing in the 20th century heavily. Currently, this is still important, but they also have a significant focus on tourism and non-military manufacturing.
Within the last couple of years, San Diego has become the second-largest city in the state, right after Los Angeles. The population has well surpassed the one million mark, making it the eighth-largest city in the country. San Diego is culturally diverse. Many of the residents here are of European descent as well as Hispanic and Asian.
One of the most memorable things to happen to this city in the 21st century is that the Chicano Park Murals became a National Historic Landmark. These colorful murals in San Diego came to be after the protests that occurred in the 1970s. This city has hundreds of historical sites to visit, beaches to lay on, and restaurants to try.
Whether you’re planning a visit to the magnificent city of San Diego or are planning to move there, you’ll be in a history-rich town with plenty to do and see. From historical sites that have been around since the 1800s to modern restaurants and parks, you’ll be happy you stopped in.