History of San Diego, California

History of San Diego, California

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

Colonial period

The area has long been inhabited by the Kumeyaay people. The first European to visit the region was Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo. A long-term resident of Spanish America Cabrillo was commisioned by Viceroy Antonio de Mendoza to continue the explorations of California. In 1542, Cabrillo named what is now known as San Diego, San Miguel. The San Diego Bay and the area of present-day San Diego were given their current names sixty years later by Sebastián Vizcaíno when he was mapping the coastline of Alta California for Spain in 1602. 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. Colonists began arriving in 1774; the following year, the native people rebelled. They killed the priest and two others, and burned the mission. 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.

Consolidation as an urban center

In 1821, Spain recognized Mexico's independence. The governor of Alta California and Baja California moved the capital to San Diego from Monterey. The 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. However, the population of the town shrank to little over a hundred persons, and by the late 1830s it lost its township until the province of Alta California became part of the United States in 1850 following the Mexican defeat in the Mexican-American War. The village was designated the seat of the newly-established San Diego County and incorporated as a city.

As a consequence of the gold rush of 1848 and thousands of people coming from Europe, San Diego was linked to the rest of the nation by railroad in 1885. San Diego was reincorporated as a city in 1886.

Significant U.S. Naval presence began in 1907 with the establishment of the Navy Coaling Station. While the city hosts a number of naval facilities, it suffered some setbacks. Most notably, the Naval Training Center just to the west of Lindbergh Field was slated for closure in 1993 by the Base Realignment and Closure Commission and the base completed the closure process on April 30, 1997. The former base is now the site for Liberty Station, a multi-use development for homes and businesses. The former Miramar Naval Air Station is now used by the U.S. Marine Corps and now called MCAS Miramar.

San Diego hosted two World's Fairs, the Panama-California Exposition in 1915 and the California Pacific International Exposition in 1935.

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 has diminished considerably. San Diego has since become a center of the emerging biotech industry and is home to telecommunications giant Qualcomm.

The city of San Diego is primarily Democratic, but San Diego County, which includes the surrounding cities of San Diego, has a republican majority. As of 2005, registered Democrats outnumbered registered Republicans, 39% to 34%, within the city itself. [San Diego County. [http://www.sdcounty.ca.gov/voters/Eng/reports/current_reg_report.pdf Report of Registration - State Reporting Districts] . Data Information Management Systems, Inc. 1982—2008.]

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 [http://www.signonsandiego.com/uniontrib/20050127/news_2m27amicus.html ensued] during and after the election when, contrary 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. (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 seen some intrigue 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 [http://www.sandiego.gov/ official city website] , as reported by the Associated Press. As of December 5, 2005, the nickname [http://www.fox6.com/news/local/story.aspx?content_id=2A8604B3-615C-44D2-A1F7-B00EFA827172 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

San Diego was affected like many other US cities by the phenomenon known as White flight during the mid/late 20th century.Some of the neighborhoods were re-populated with a larger Mexican presence.Its youth feeling discriminated and without power, organized and referred to themselves as Chicanos.The city became the center of a national movement started by Professor Alurista at San Diego State which called for a mystical nation of Aztlan. It stated that a separation of several southwestern states was necessary because they felt that they were "stolen" from Mexico.A local branch of the Young Lords joined together with this movement.In addition,they also called for self determination for Puerto Rico,neighborhood empowerment and an opposition to urban renewal.

Under the initiative of Centre City Development Corporation, the downtown area of the city of San Diego was able to rebound with remarkable vitality. Since 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 frenzy especially in Little Italy, and the inauguration of PETCO Park in the once distraught East Village highlight the continuing blossoming of downtown. Center city population is expected to rise to 90,000 residents within a decade, 30,000 currently resides in downtown San Diego today. Planners also want to increase jobs from 70,000 to more than 110,000.

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


External links

* [http://www.sandiegohistory.org/histsoc.html San Diego Historical Society]
* [http://www.nationalyounglords.com/ Origins of Young Lords]

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