100 years: A peek backOnline Only, Real Estate, Bottom Highlights, Latest Issue Thursday, February 2nd, 2017
This is my 100th article in this column. To celebrate this milestone, I am going 100 years back to 1917 to have a look at the San Diego of yesteryear. The city was in its childhood then.
The indigenous people of the San Diego area were the Kumeyaay Native American tribe. Juan Rodriquez Cabrillo was the first visitor from Europe in 1542, but no settlement followed this landing. The Spaniard Sebastian Vizcaino, a merchant finding promise in the golden coast, returned to the area in 1602, but it would not be until the latter part of the 18th century that colonization would start in earnest.
San Diego became officially part of the United States in 1848, and in 1850 California was granted statehood. Growth was slow, however, until the latter part of the 19th century, when the development of military facilities, manufacturing, trade and tourism, set the stage for growth that would turn the San Diego of today into the eighth largest city in the United States.
With this history in mind, let’s look back to some of the events of 1917:
Balboa Park: The U.S. was at war with Germany as of April of that year and the Park was utilized as a staging and training area with the Lily Pond being used for rowing lessons and tents with hammocks utilized as beds. A temporary hospital led to the more permanent Balboa Naval Hospital in the 1920s.
Chollas Heights: The Navy opened the most powerful radio station of the day here.
New Mayor: Banker Louis Wilde defeated George Marston for mayor. Marston was known as San Diego’s “First Citizen”. As founder of the city’s first department store, he was a pioneer and philanthropist, instrumental in the development of various parks, including Presidio Park, and cultural organizations and venues. Also known for his promotion of the YMCA, and the San Diego Historical Society which he founded, Marston is remembered as one of the most important scions of the community.
Panama-California Exposition: This fair which celebrated the opening of the Panama Canal was held between 1915 and 1917 in Balboa Park. Its purpose was to showcase San Diego as the first U.S. port of call for ships traveling north from the canal. This was a big deal for the city, which at the time, boasted only about 40,000 residents.
Military Developments: Camp Kearny was established this year, costing $4.5 million, but closed in 1920. The same year the U.S. Marine base and the Naval Hospital were approved and the government purchased North Island for what was to become Rockwell Field.
Wet weather: In January, 1916 San Diego had a great weather disaster; great rains that subsequently caused flooding that killed 22 people and washed out roads, bridges and rail lines. There were big waves in town and houses actually floated away as five feet of water flowed down Broadway. A city reservoir called Morena filled in a mere four weeks as the rains added 10 billion gallons to the body.
This is just a little about what occurred a century ago. Here’s to the number 100. I promise to bring you more interesting tidbits in the columns to come and hope you’ll still be tuning in 100 articles hence. Thanks for reading.
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