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Quick History of San Diego

San Diego, CA – A quick history

San Diego was claimed by the Spanish Empire in 1542, under the name San Miguel. On a mapping expedition, the site was named for the mission’s flagship, San Diego. In 1769, Fort Presidio was established. This settlement was the first for Europeans in California. Later that same year, Mission San Diego de Alcala was built. When Mexico won independence from Spain in 1821, San Diego was officially part of Alta California, a state of Mexico. The town grew, and after the war against Mexico, California was admitted to the United States in 1850. San Diego was named an official city.

Presently, the original settlement is known as Old Town San Diego State Historic Park. A settlement that was closer to water was proposed in 1850, called “New San Diego”. This new settlement became present day downtown San Diego, and is the economic heart of the city. San Diego has hosted two World’s Fairs, in 1915 and 1935. Special buildings were build in the Spanish style of the city’s historic culture, and are a centerpiece in Balboa Park. The fair in 1915 had a vast exposition of animals, and the San Diego Zoo was born. San Diego has a strong Spanish and Mexican cultural past, and much of the architecture shows that.

Please click here for help from a San Diego Realtor. San Diego has had a large military presence as early as 1852. A large Naval Base, Aviation Center, Forts, and military hospitals are all part of present day San Diego. As of 2014, San Diego is the eighth largest city in the United States, and the second largest city in California with a population of 1.35 million people.

More San Diego- History

San Diego, California is one of the country’s most sought after tourist destinations for its upscale shopping outlets, fine dining venues and consistently great weather. However, the city’s cultural attractions also take center stage for many visitors because of the area’s rich history. The land upon which San Diego sits has been the home to a number of societies that include several Native American people groups, Europeans, Mexicans and the melting pot of ethnicities known simply as Americans. Here are some historical facts about the city and its namesake county that area visitors might uncover as they meander down memory lane in the old border town.

Pre-Columbian San Diego

The first people known to inhabit the San Diego area were Asiatic people who were named San Dieguito people by early Spanish explorers. Scientist and archaeologists date the time of their occupation in San Diego to around 7500 B.C. These paleo natives were known for their stone tools that were used to hunt as well as build, and archaeologists have uncovered many artifacts that are thought to belong to the San Dieguito people near what is called the San Dieguito Complex. Other native people groups include the La Jollans, Yumans, Luiseño people and the Kumeyaay nation tribes; some descendants of these tribes still occupy the area to this day. The diet of the people of this region included fresh vegetables, seasonal fruits, acorn nuts, fish and wild game. Visitors to San Diego can explore the paths of these ancient peoples by touring the San Elijo Lagoon Ecological Reserve, or they can contact the Luiseño or Kumeyaay reservations for a more personal account of the past as told by tribal members.

San Diego’s Spanish Colonial Period

The European discovery of the coastal Southern California region and the subsequent settlement of the area by Spanish colonists led by Hernán Cortés in 1535 were probably some of the most well known periods in the area’s history. Spanish explorers like Hernán Cortés, Juan Cabrillo, Sebastian Vizcaíno were busily staking claims to the fertile land for their home country and were spurred on by rumors of rich gold supplies nearby. Besides being opportunistic, the Spanish explorers were deeply religious, and they began building Catholic missions that would be used to spread their belief systems in the new land. The native peoples were also very religious, and it is not clear whether Catholocism was forced upon them or if they welcomed the new religious practices. There were 21 of these missions founded throughout California, and the earliest one was built in San Diego in 1769. Military equipment was also brought to San Diego as the Spanish sought to leverage the strategic coastal vantage point for its naval operations; visitors can tour Presidio Park to view the site of the original historic fort called the Royal Presidio of San Diego.

San Diego’s Mexican Allegiance

Mexico won independence from Spain in 1821, and all of California was considered a part of their territory. Subsequently, numerous cattle ranches were established there via government land grants. Native American uprisings were as prevalent with the new Mexican government as they were with the previous Spanish colonials. San Diego stood under the Mexican flag for a quarter of a century until the United States won the Mexican American War in 1848. The national boundaries of the United States and Mexico were redrawn at the conclusion of the war, and San Diego became an important part of the U.S. border with its southern neighbor.


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