• News
  • General

Central County Milestones

Horton, Spreckels, Kettner, Scripps and Hahn. Names like these shaped central San Diego and are still recognized today. And as today’s leaders and developers look back after decades of expansion, neighborhoods from La Jolla to Mission Valley to East Village are becoming denser with the helping hand of mixed-use development.

With this increase in density comes more retail, more businesses, expanded universities and, eventually, mass transit. In the past year, UCSD, SDSU, USD and Point Loma Nazarene University all added new buildings to accommodate current and future students. The Metropolitan Transit Department began the Mission Valley East trolley line, which features a new stop at SDSU. Residential construction, particularly downtown, remains strong.

And as evidenced by the cranes that still dot the landscape, central San Diego is still in the midst of its latest growth spurt, with several residential and commercial buildings just beginning to take shape.

February 1850

San Diego County is formed as one of California's original 27 counties. It extends from the Pacific Ocean to the Colorado River and includes much of the Colorado and Mojave deserts, all of present-day Imperial County and much of San Bernardino and Riverside counties.

March 18, 1850

William Heath Davis purchases 160 acres in "New Town" (now downtown San Diego). His home, originally located at State and Market Streets, is the oldest surviving wooden structure in downtown San Diego. It now houses a museum at 4th and Island.

March 27, 1850

The City of San Diego is incorporated. Government by a Common Council and elected mayor is established with Joshua Bean serving as first mayor.


Alonzo Erastus Horton arrives from San Francisco in April. On May 10, he acquires 800 acres of land at an auction for $265. This would become New San Diego.


Horton builds a wharf at the end of Fifth Avenue at a cost of about $45,000. On March 24, Horton sells $5,500 worth of commercial and residential lots in one day. His new town begins to boom.


San Diego becomes the first city west of the Mississippi to set aside land for an urban park. This 1,440- acre tract becomes the site for City Park, now Balboa Park.

May, 1882

San Diego Telephone Company begins operation.


Transcontinental railroad reaches San Diego, thanks to the efforts of entrepreneur Frank Kimball.

July 4, 1886

San Diego's first transit system, the San Diego Street Car Company is organized. First streetcars begin running on a 2-mile track on Broadway.

Nov 19, 1887

San Diego's Electric Rapid Transit Company introduces the first electric street railway system in the western U.S.


The San Diego Flume Company completes a 35.6-mile wooden flume that carries water to San Diego from a reservoir created in Bear Creek with the Cuyamaca Dam, completed in 1887.


The Marine Biological Association later to become the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, is formed by of San Diego University of California Zoology Professor William E. Ritter, Ellen Browning Scripps, her brother E.W. Scripps and Homer Peters.

January 1, 1915

Panama-California Exposition opens in Balboa Park. Constructed for the expo, Spanish Colonial buildings designed by Bertram Goodhue's Spanish Colonial define the park, which is the largest urban cultural park in the U.S.


San Diego & Arizona Railroad, providing the city a direct link with the east, is completed after 13 years of labor and $17 million. John D. Spreckels invests millions to make the railway a reality, but competing with automobiles and trucks, it never achieves commercial success. It is eventually washed out by a flash flood in 1976 and abandoned.


Marine Corps Recruit Depot opens and the Naval Training Center on Point Loma is commissioned. Proposed in 1916 by William Kettner, it gained the support of Franklin D. Roosevelt, Assistant Secretary of Navy, when he visited San Diego during the Panama-California Exposition.


San Diego's municipal airport, Lindbergh Field, is dedicated.

February, 1931

San Diego's State Teachers' College moves into the seven mission-style buildings of the present SDSU campus. In 1935, "Teachers" is removed from the name. In 1960, it becomes part of the new California State College system; it is renamed San Diego State University in 1971.


Reuben H. Fleet, organizer of the first U.S. Air Mail Service in 1918, moves Consolidated Aircraft (which merges with Vultee to become Convair in 1943) from Buffalo, New York.


Consolidated Aircraft opens first plant along Pacific Highway to build 50 P-30 pursuit planes for Army. First PBY-1 is launched on test flight on San Diego Bay in 1936; Consair employment rises from 900 to 3700 in 1935.

June 24, 1937

Richard Archbold makes first transcontinental flight from San Diego to New York City in a seaplane built by Consair.


Naval Air Station Miramar, now Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, begins developments on the site of Camp Kearny.


San Diego County Water Authority is formed.


San Diego Aqueduct opens, bringing first Colorado River water to San Diego.


San Diego's last electric streetcar completes its run from Union Depot. "Fiesta Bahia" marks the opening of Mission Bay Park.


General Dynamics takes over Convair. Campus in San Diego's La Jolla area proposed for a University of California site.


First Atlas missile built in San Diego by Convair is successfully fired. Atlas becomes the workhorse of the space program, launching John Glenn in Mercury 7 for the nation's first manned orbital flight in 1962.


Interstate Highway 8 opens in February, following ancient Indian trails through Mission Valley


Jonas Salk establishes the Jonas Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla.


University of California at San Diego opens 1,000-acre La Jolla campus. Its first college is named for Roger Revelle , the driving force behind the university’s creation.


Sea World opens in Mission Bay Park.


$27 million San Diego Stadium opens in Mission Valley as home to the San Diego Chargers, the San Diego State University Aztecs football team, and, the following year, the San Diego Padres. (Stadium is renamed for San Diego Union sports editor Jack Murphy in 1981; Qualcomm in 1997).


The Fashion Valley Mall opened its doors in October with 100 stores sitting on 1 million square feet.


San Diego becomes California's second-largest city, with a population of 696,474. San Diego County population is 1,357,854.


Interstate 5 freeway completed.


* The San Diego College for Women and San Diego University (a men’s college) merge to become the University of San Diego in Linda Vista.

* Mayor Pete Wilson launches plans for a dramatic redevelopment of downtown San Diego.


Mayor Pete Wilson and the City Council created Centre City Development Corp. in 1975 to facilitate public/private partnerships and to focus on solutions. This public, nonprofit corporation began with 325 acres in four redevelopment projects — Horton Plaza, Marina, Columbia and Gaslamp Quarter.


University Towne Centre opens. Built by Ernest Hahn, the shopping center is now a Westfield Shoppingtown mall with about 200 stores and restaurants, and an ice skating rink.


The San Diego Trolley, first line in the city's new light-rail transit system, is dedicated. 1981 - San Diego Trolley begins service to border; 1985, East Line; 1990 Bayside Line; 1992, North Line; 1998, Mission Valley Line.


Pfizer La Jolla, the outgrowth of Agouron Pharmaceuticals, Inc., is organized.


Horton Plaza shopping center, a key Centre City Development Corporation project, opens as $140 million cornerstone of downtown redevelopment.


Dr. Irwin Mark Jacobs helps found Qualcomm with a plan to commercialize CDMA technology.


San Diego Convention Center opens.


* General Dynamics-Convair begins closing local operations.

* Centre City Development Corp. project area expanded to include all of downtown’s 1,500 acres.

August 12-15, 1996

San Diego hosts Republican National Convention, its first national political convention.


Voters approve convention center expansion, downtown Padres ballpark, $1.5 billion city school bonds.


Groundbreaking for Broadway 655 takes place. When completed (in 2005), the 23-story office building will be the first Class A high-rise office building in downtown since 1991.


City officials reveal to Wall Street a range of errors and omissions in 2002 financial statements prepared by its staff and audited by Calderon, Jaham & Osborn.. Incorrect figures were given for, among other things, the interest rates and maturities of bond offerings and the city's escalating pension debt.

April 8, 2004

Petco Park, the focal point of the downtown Ballpark District, a 26-acre redevelopment project that will bring world-class hotels, restaurants and condominiums to the city’s urban core opens.


* Mayor Dick Murphy named one of the three worst big-city mayors by Time magazine. Murphy resigns on July 15 less than five months after starting his second four-year term.

* Former San Diego Police Chief Jerry Sanders elected next mayor of San Diego in November.

* The Mission Valley East trolley line extension (i.e. the Green Line) opens, which closes a critical 5.9-mile gap in the existing system. One of the new stops along the line is the San Diego State University station, which holds the distinction of featuring the first subterranean trolley station and tunnel in San Diego.

User Response
0 UserComments