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National City looks forward while retaining history

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Incorporated on Sept. 17, 1887, National City is the second oldest city in San Diego. It is also among San Diego's fastest growing communities. Located minutes from downtown San Diego and the U.S.-Mexico border, National City is "In the Center of It All." This diverse and vibrant community is home to more than 2,500 businesses that already call it home.

In today's economy, the expanded use of the railroad is underway and the waterfront is widely used for transportation of goods. Major businesses have taken advantage of the city's strategic location and infrastructure, including Pasha Automotive Services, Knight and Carver Yacht Center and Wind Blade Division, Dole and Dixieline ProBuild. National City's port is one of the busiest in Southern California, and the Maritime Business Plan expands on the port's services.

National City works closely with the Port of San Diego and the Working Waterfront Group to ensure growth and opportunities for National City businesses and residents. The 32nd Street Naval Station is within close proximity and the Navy has a special working relationship with the National City Chamber of Commerce and the City of National City.

New urban infrastructure, retail shops, restaurants and approximately 4,000 condominiums are being designed and development is underway. Public transit is within walking distance from almost any area in National City. The freeways are located strategically for quick access to almost any destination, making National City a desirable place to live, shop and play.

National City's downtown is centrally located along National City Boulevard. It is home to the newly built Chamber of Commerce Building, the recently completed Higher Education Village that includes Southwestern College, America's Car Capital, the Mile of Cars and the Centro Condominium project, and is just a hop skip and jump from the beautiful Pier 32 Marina, which currently houses 271 yachts and privately owned boats.

The newest development under way is the Marina Gateway Plaza, a new three-star hotel and full-service restaurant by the Sycuan Development Corp. It is a vision to behold, along with the fishing pier at Pepper Park and the new South Bay Aquatic Center operated by the YMCA. Marina Gateway offers a multitude of recreational activities including fishing, kayaking, picnicking lodging, dining and sporting lessons.

National City hosts a state-of-the-art, newly built fire station that has won awards for its architecture. The fire station has a history room that showcases a 1923 Seagrave Fire Truck and stands as an example of National City's abundant history. There are more than 150 Victorian, Streamline Moderne and Craftsman architecture homes throughout the city.

Some say that National City has more historic homes than any other city in San Diego County. It is one of the few cities that boasts Victorian homes built as far back as 1876, before the city was incorporated. Founding father Frank Kimball, who worked for the California Department of Agriculture, was responsible for organizing the second world fair at Granger Music Hall to showcase the "alligator pear," more commonly known as the avocado.

Historic Granger Music Hall is recognized on a national level and is one of a few music halls built exclusively for chamber music in the United States. It has perfect acoustics and was once the home that housed the famous Hawley collection of violins owned by Ralph Granger, a wealthy silver magnate and businessman in National City, prior to the turn of the century. From the 1880s throughout the early 1930s, many famous musicians performed in the hall, including the famous opera singer Madame Majeska from Russia.

The first railroad terminus in southern California was built in National City and still stands today. Located conveniently across the street is Rail Car Plaza, which houses the first railroad car in National City and dates back to the 1880s. Railroad history is plentiful and available in the history room of the new National City Public Library.

The chamber office has brochures and city maps of historic sites in National City including Brick Row, a replica 10-unit Philadelphia Row Home built by Kimball in 1887 to entice the railroad executives who came to National City when the terminus was built.

Westfield Plaza Bonita mall has just completed a major expansion that includes 14 theaters, a new food court, newly renovated J.C. Penny store and an array of specialty shops including the much anticipated H&M clothing store. The new Borders Book Store and Target retailer are the latest in design. Plaza Bonita's ambience caters to shoppers from all over San Diego. To add to the exquisite shopping experience, Westfield also added El Torito, Dickey's Bar-B-Que and Corner Bakery Café.

National City offers many opportunities to succeed in business, and the Chamber of Commerce offers new economic development programs to help your business grow. National City has become a destination for new business, tourism and families that want to be located "In the Center of It All."

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