Monday, July 16, 2007

San Diego's 238th Birthday today

Della's comment on July 16th, 1929 refreshed my memory that it is San Diego's (and California's) "birthday" today - the first European settlers sailed into the harbor and marched up the coast, led by the Spaniard Gaspar de Portola and Father Junipero Serra (now a Catholic saint). They planted a small village on and below what is now Presidio Hill in Old Town. The hill provided a view of San Diego Bay to the south and west, Mission Valley and the San Diego River to the North and East. The first Alta California Mission - called San Diego de Alcala - was built on the Presidio, and another was built 6 miles up the river several years later. From San Diego, the Spanish founded 21 missions along the coast up to San Francisco over the next 35 years - they were way stations every 30 to 40 miles.

Over the next 80 years, the Spanish soldiers and Mexican laborers displaced the natives from the area. In 1821, the Mexicans overthrew the Spanish government of Mexico, and Mexico became an independent country. Large ranchos were set up throughout coastal California - there were 33 by the time of the Spanish-American War.

The city of San Diego was incorporated in 1850, so it is fairly young as cities go. The population of the "city" is 650, and that of the county (which stretches up to San Bernardino county and beyond) is 798 more. California was admitted to the United States as the 31st state on September 9, 1850.

The San Diego Historical Society has a web site at with links to a timeline, photos, famous people, publications, etc. The timeline of San Diego history is at A photo gallery is at

I am only a 5th generation San Diegan - but I consider myself a native son of San Diego. I love the geography, the weather, the culture, the institutions and the people who live here. I doubt if I will ever leave San Diego.

We have a young lady in our genealogy society whose son has Mexican ancestry from the 1820 to 1850 time period. It's been interesting trying to help her find records.

So I offer a shout out to my precious San Diego - Happy Birthday, and many more!

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