Old Town San Diego State Historic Park
Old Town San Diego State Historic Park, located in the Old Town neighborhood of San Diego, California, is a state protected historical park in San Diego. It commemorates the early days of the town of San Diego and includes many historic buildings from the period 1820 to 1870; the park was established in 1968. In 2005 and 2006, California State Parks listed Old Town San Diego as the most visited state park in California. In 1969, the site was registered as California Historical Landmark #830. On September 3, 1971, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places as Old Town San Diego Historic District; the first European settlement on the West Coast of the present-day United States was the San Diego Presidio, a military outpost of Spanish California, founded by Gaspar de Portolà in 1769. Mission San Diego de Alcalá was founded by Father Junípero Serra the same year; the Presidio and Mission were built on a bluff above the San Diego River, Presidio Hill, now the site of the city-owned Presidio Park and, adjacent to Old Town State Historic Park.
After five years the Mission moved to a location several miles upriver at the present site of Mission San Diego de Alcalá. Presidio Hill remained the primary settlement for several decades because it was defensible against attack by European enemies or hostile Native Americans; as the need for defense decreased, settlers preferred to live at the base of the hill because of greater convenience. In the 1820s the town of San Diego grew up at the base of the bluff, at the site commemorated by Old Town San Diego State Historic Park; the Presidio fell into disrepair. During the pueblo period following Mexican independence, the Old Town area was the commercial and governmental hub of the region though its population was never more than a few hundred. San Diego during this period is vividly described by Richard Henry Dana, Jr. in his classic book Two Years Before the Mast. In 1834 the Mexican government granted San Diego the status of chartered town. One problem limiting the town's growth was its location far from navigable water.
All imports and exports had to be brought ashore in Point Loma and carried several miles over the La Playa Trail to the town. When California was admitted to the United States in 1850, San Diego was made the county seat of San Diego County though the town's population was only 650; the Old Town area remained the heart of the city of San Diego until the 1860s, when a newcomer to San Diego named Alonzo Horton began to promote development at the site of present-day Downtown San Diego. Residents and businesses abandoned "Old Town" for Horton's "New Town" because of New Town's proximity to shipping. In 1871 government records were moved from Old Town to a new county courthouse in New Town, Downtown permanently eclipsed Old Town as the focal point of San Diego. Old Town San Diego State Historic Park preserves and recreates Old Town as it existed during the Mexican and early American periods, from its settlement in 1821, through 1872 when it lost its dominant position to Downtown; the Old Town area is a popular tourist destination, known for its Mexican restaurants.
The state park itself hosts several eating establishments, other restaurants and gift shops are found in the surrounding neighborhood. Five original adobes are part of the complex, which includes shops and museums. Other historic buildings include a schoolhouse, a blacksmith shop, San Diego's first newspaper office, a cigar and pipe store and gardens, a stable with a carriage collection. There are stores, with local artisans demonstrating their craft. There is no charge to enter any of its museums; the museums include: Casa de Estudillo, 1827 adobe house, a National Historic Landmark in its own right Casa de Machado y Silvas, 1840s adobe Casa de Machado y Stewart, a restored 19th century adobe Black Hawk Smithy & Stable, which features blacksmith demonstrations Colorado House, reconstructed 1850s hotel building that serves as the Wells Fargo History Museum, featuring a reconstructed 19th-century stage stop and telegraph office First San Diego Courthouse, a reconstructed mid 19th century courthouse Johnson House, a reconstructed mid 19th century office building the house of George Alonzo Johnson.
Mason Street School, the first public school house in San Diego Racine and Laramie, a reconstructed mid 19th century period tobacconist San Diego Union Museum, a mid-19th century period newspaper office and print shop Seeley Stables, a reconstructed mid 19th century stable and barns that feature horse-drawn buggies, wagons and western memorabilia Cosmopolitan Hotel and Restaurant, an 1870 restored hotel, still working as hotel and restaurant. Living history demonstrations and free tours are scheduled. Historical interpretation is carried out by park employees and volunteers, the Mexican Commercial corner is host to several locally based small businesses and artists. Adjacent to the state park is Heritage County Park, run by San Diego County, it houses seven buildings from the 1880s and 1890s which have been moved there from elsewhere in the city. Nearby is the Mormon Battalion Monument and Visitor Center; the city-owned Presidio Park, site of the original Presidio of San Diego, is on the adjacent hill.
The San Diego Sheriff's Museum and Educational Center is located in Old Town. It includes police equipment, patrol car, motorcycle, a jail cell and courtroom; the Whaley House museum is nearby. The commercial facilities in Old Town State Park, such as restaurants and gift shops, are managed by outside contractors. For more than 30 year
Adobe is a building material made from earth and organic materials. Adobe is Spanish for mudbrick, but in some English-speaking regions of Spanish heritage, the term is used to refer to any kind of earth construction. Most adobe buildings rammed earth buildings. Adobe is among the earliest building materials, is used throughout the world. Adobe bricks are rectangular prisms small enough that they can air dry individually without cracking, they can be subsequently assembled, with the application of adobe mud to bond the individual bricks into a structure. There is no standard size, in different regions. In some areas a popular size measured 8 by 4 by 12 inches weighing about 25 pounds; the maximum sizes can reach up to 100 pounds. In dry climates, adobe structures are durable, account for some of the oldest existing buildings in the world. Adobe buildings offer significant advantages due to their greater thermal mass, but they are known to be susceptible to earthquake damage if they are not somehow reinforced.
Cases where adobe structures were damaged during earthquakes include the 1976 Guatemala earthquake, the 2003 Bam earthquake, the 2010 Chile earthquake. Buildings made of sun-dried earth are common throughout the world Adobe had been in use by indigenous peoples of the Americas in the Southwestern United States and the Andes for several thousand years. Puebloan peoples built their adobe structures with handsful or basketsful of adobe, until the Spanish introduced them to making bricks. Adobe bricks were used in Spain from Iron Ages, its wide use can be attributed to its simplicity of design and manufacture, economics. A distinction is sometimes made between the smaller adobes, which are about the size of ordinary baked bricks, the larger adobines, some of which may be one to two yards long; the word adobe has existed for around 4000 years with little change in either pronunciation or meaning. The word can be traced from the Middle Egyptian word ɟbt "mud brick". Middle Egyptian evolved into Late Egyptian, Demotic or "pre-Coptic", to Coptic, where it appeared as τωωβε tōʾpə.
This was adopted into Arabic as الطوب aṭ-ṭawbu or aṭ-ṭūbu, with the definite article al- attached. Tuba, This was assimilated into the Old Spanish language as adobe via Mozarabic. English borrowed the word from Spanish in the early 18th century, still referring to mudbrick construction. In more modern English usage, the term "adobe" has come to include a style of architecture popular in the desert climates of North America in New Mexico, regardless of the construction method. An adobe brick is a composite material made of earth mixed with water and an organic material such as straw or dung; the soil composition contains sand and clay. Straw is useful in binding the brick together and allowing the brick to dry evenly, thereby preventing cracking due to uneven shrinkage rates through the brick. Dung offers the same advantage; the most desirable soil texture for producing the mud of adobe is 15% clay, 10–30% silt, 55–75% fine sand. Another source quotes 15–25% clay and the remainder sand and coarser particles up to cobbles 50 to 250 mm, with no deleterious effect.
Modern adobe is stabilized with Portland cement up to 10 % by weight. No more than half the clay content should be expansive clays, with the remainder non-expansive illite or kaolinite. Too much expansive clay results in uneven drying through the brick, resulting in cracking, while too much kaolinite will make a weak brick; the soils of the Southwest United States, where such construction has been used, are an adequate composition. Adobe walls are load bearing, i.e. they carry their own weight into the foundation rather than by another structure, hence the adobe must have sufficient compressive strength. In the United States, most building codes call for a minimum compressive strength of 300 lbf/in2 for the adobe block. Adobe construction should be designed so as to avoid lateral structural loads that would cause bending loads; the building codes require the building sustain a 1 g lateral acceleration earthquake load. Such an acceleration will cause lateral loads on the walls, resulting in shear and bending and inducing tensile stresses.
To withstand such loads, the codes call for a tensile modulus of rupture strength of at least 50 lbf/in2 for the finished block. In addition to being an inexpensive material with a small resource cost, adobe can serve as a significant heat reservoir due to the thermal properties inherent in the massive walls typical in adobe construction. In climates typified by hot days and cool nights, the high thermal mass of adobe mediates the high and low temperatures of the day, moderating the temperature of the living space; the massive walls require a large and long input of heat from the sun and from the surrounding air before they warm through to the interior. After the sun sets and the temperature drops, the warm wall will continue to transfer heat to the interior for several hou
George White Marston was an American politician, department store owner, philanthropist. Marston was involved with establishing Balboa Park, the San Diego Public Library System, San Diego Presidio Park, his contributions to San Diego earned him the affectionate title of "San Diego's First Citizen." Marston was born in Wisconsin. As a boy, Marston learned to ice skate, his father had a chronic respiratory ailment and wanted to live in a better climate for his health, so the family moved to San Diego in 1870. Marston was a clerk in the Horton House Hotel entered the mercantile business as a bookkeeper with the firm of Aaron Pauly & Sons general merchandise store and warehouse merchants. Pauly was the founder of the San Diego Chamber of Commerce. Marston was its secretary and its president. In 1872, Marston clerked for storekeeper Joseph Nash, he and partner Charles Hamilton ran the store. After Marston's marriage, he split the store business with his partner Hamilton, with Hamilton taking the grocery side and Marston taking the dry goods.
The Marston Company became the only major department store in San Diego, was located downtown. Its success was due to exclusive business arrangements Marston made with several suppliers, he was a generous philanthropist in the city. The Marston department store, at 548 C Street, San Diego, was owned by the family until they sold it in 1961 to Broadway, it has since closed. His business trips took him to major cities such as San Francisco and New York City, where he saw great urban parks; this developed a desire to see San Diego's Balboa Park become as great. As a result of his efforts in park development and planning, Marston helped make Balboa Park a local landmark. Marston hired architect John Nolen to develop the first plan for the park in 1908 and a more-detailed plan in 1926. Marston served as chairman of the Buildings and Grounds Committee for the 1915 Panama–California Exposition in Balboa Park; the Exposition established an infrastructure of museums and attractions for the park that still exists today.
A statue by Ruth Hayward of Marston with other significant founders of San Diego stands in Balboa Park. In 1907, Marston bought Presidio Hill with the intent of preserving the old Presidio of San Diego, the first European settlement in present-day California, which had fallen into ruins, he couldn't get anyone interested in the project, so he built Presidio Park in 1925 with his own funds, hiring Nolen to plan the park. He commissioned the building of the Serra Museum, designed by architect William Templeton Johnson, in Presidio Park, he donated the park to the city in 1929. Presidio Park, still a city-owned historic park, is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Marston served on the first board of trustees for the San Diego Public Library in 1882 and founded the San Diego YMCA, serving as its president for 22 years, he was on the city council from 1887–1889. In 1928 he served as its first president. Marston raised funds and donated his own money to buy land for present-day Torrey Pines State Reserve and Anza-Borrego Desert State Park.
Marston served as a founding trustee for Pomona College and funded a number of the campus's early buildings. George Marston's Residence at 3525 Seventh Avenue was designed by Irving Gill and William S. Hebbard architects in 1904/1905; the residence was planned to be built in English Tudor style, but was completed in the Arts and Crafts style, becoming in vogue. The property, dubbed the George W. Marston House and Gardens, was donated to the City of San Diego by Marston's daughter Mary in 1987 and is now a museum at the northwest corner of Balboa Park. Save Our Heritage Organisation took over operation of the property in July 2009 and is in the process of restoring the gardens and furnishing the home in appropriate period style. Marston was active politically and called himself an "independent", he was raised a Republican, but swung back and forth between Democrat and Republican, supporting the party or person most to push for reform. He supported California's reform-oriented Progressive Party in the early 1920s.
Marston ran for mayor unsuccessfully in 1913 and again in 1917. The 1917 race in particular was a classic growth-vs.-beautification debate. Marston argued for better city planning with more open space and grand boulevards. Wilde called painting Marston as unfriendly to business. Wilde's campaign slogan was "More Smokestacks", during the campaign he drew a great smokestack belching smoke on a truck through the city streets; the phrase "smokestacks vs. geraniums" is still used in San Diego to characterize this type of debate. Local horticulturalist Jim Zemcik has produced a "Geranium George" series of geranium varieties in Marston's honor, including one variety named for his wife Anna Gunn Marston, an avid gardener. In 1878, he married a teacher, they had five children. Her brother Douglas Gunn was the owner and editor of San Diego Union and served as Mayor of San Diego from 1889 to 1891. George Marston died at age 95 at his home in San Diego, he is interred in Mount Hope Cemetery. For the eulogy at his funeral, James A. Blaisdell spoke of Marston's impact on Balboa Park, "Just around the corner lies the central Balboa Park of the city — walks that he laid out — flowers that he planted — trees that he loved — vistas that he foresaw — beautiful buildings that he
Mission San Francisco de Asís
Mission San Francisco de Asís, or Mission Dolores, is the oldest surviving structure in San Francisco and the sixth religious settlement established as part of the California chain of missions. The Mission was founded on October 9, 1776, by Lieutenant José Joaquin Moraga and Francisco Palóu, both members of the de Anza Expedition, charged with bringing Spanish settlers to Alta California and with evangelizing the local Natives, the Ohlone; some of the Mission's buildings have been turned into businesses, including a print shop and several saloons. The settlement was named for St. Francis of Assisi, the founder of the Franciscan Order, but was commonly known as "Mission Dolores" owing to the presence of a nearby creek named Arroyo de Nuestra Señora de los Dolores, meaning "Our Lady of Sorrows Creek." During the expedition of Juan Bautista de Anza, this site was identified by Pedro Font as the most suitable site for a mission in the San Francisco area. The original Mission was a small structure dedicated on October 9, 1776, after the required church documents arrived.
It was located near what is today the intersection of Camp and Albion Streets, about a block-and-a-half east of the surviving Adobe Mission building, on the shores of a lake called Laguna de Los Dolores. A historical marker at that location depicts this lake, but whether it actually existed is a matter of some dispute; the present Mission church, near what is now the intersection of Dolores and 16th Streets, was dedicated in 1791. At the time of dedication, a mural painted by native labor adorned the focal wall of the chapel; the Mission was constructed of adobe and was part of a complex of buildings used for housing and manufacturing enterprises. Though most of the Mission complex, including the quadrangle and Convento, has either been altered or demolished outright during the intervening years, the façade of the Mission chapel has remained unchanged since its construction in 1782–1791. According to Mission historian Brother Guire Cleary, the early 19th century saw the greatest period of activity at San Francisco de Asís: At its peak in 1810–1820, the average Indian population at Pueblo Dolores was about 1,100 people.
The California missions were not only houses of worship. They were farming communities, manufacturers of all sorts of products, ranches, hospitals and the centers of the largest communities in the state. In 1810 the Mission owned 11,000 sheep, 11,000 cows, thousands of horses, goats and mules, its ranching and farming operations east to Alameda. Horses were corralled on Potrero Hill, the milking sheds for the cows were located along Dolores Creek at what is today Mission High School. Twenty looms were kept in operation to process wool into cloth; the circumference of the Mission's holdings was said to have been about 125 miles. The Mission chapel, along with "Father Serra's Church" at Mission San Juan Capistrano, is one of only two surviving buildings where Junípero Serra is known to have officiated. In 1817, Mission San Rafael Arcángel was established as an Asistencia to act as a hospital for the Mission, though it would be granted full mission status in 1822; the Mexican War of Independence strained relations between the Mexican government and the California missions.
Supplies were scant, the Indians who worked at the missions continued to suffer terrible losses from disease and cultural disruption. In 1834, the Mexican government enacted secularization laws whereby most church properties were sold or granted to private owners. In practical terms, this meant that the missions would hold title only to the churches, the residences of the priests, a small amount of land surrounding the church for use as gardens. In the period that followed, Mission Dolores fell on hard times. By 1842, only eight Christian Indians were living at the Mission; the California Gold Rush brought renewed activity to the Mission Dolores area. In the 1850s, two plank roads were constructed from what is today downtown San Francisco to the Mission, the entire area became a popular resort and entertainment district; some of the Mission properties were leased for use as saloons and gambling halls. Racetracks were constructed, fights between bulls and bears were staged for crowds; the Mission complex underwent alterations.
Part of the Convento was converted to a two-story wooden wing for use as a seminary and priests' quarters, while another section became the "Mansion House," a popular tavern and way station for travelers. By 1876, the Mansion House portion of the Convento had been razed and replaced with a large Gothic Revival brick church, designed to serve the growing population of immigrants who were now making the Mission area their home. During this period, wood clapboard siding was applied to the original adobe chapel walls as both a cosmetic and a protective measure. During the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, the adjacent brick church was destroyed. By contrast, the original adobe Mission, though damaged, remained in good condition. However, the ensuing fire touched off by the earthquake reached to the Mission's doorstep
Mission San Juan Capistrano
Mission San Juan Capistrano was a Spanish mission in colonial Las Californias. It is located in Orange County, southern California; the mission was founded by Spanish Catholics of the Franciscan Order. Named for Giovanni de Capistrano, a 15th-century theologian and "warrior priest" who resided in the Abruzzo region of Italy, San Juan Capistrano has the distinction of being home to the oldest building in California still in use, a chapel built in 1782. Known alternately as "Serra's Chapel" and "Father Serra's Church," it is the only extant structure where it has been documented that Junipero Serra celebrated Mass. One of the best known missions in Alta California, one of the few missions to have been founded twice—others being Mission San Gabriel Arcángel and Mission La Purísima Concepción; the site was consecrated on October 30, 1775, by Fermín Lasuén, but was abandoned due to unrest among the indigenous population in San Diego. The success of the settlement's population is evident in its historical records.
Prior to the arrival of the missionaries, some 550 indigenous Acjachemen peoples lived in this area of their homeland. By 1790, the number of Indian reductions had grown to 700 Mission Indians, just six years nearly 1,000 "neophytes" lived in or around the Mission compound. 1,649 baptisms were conducted that year alone, out of the none total 4,639 people converted between 1776 and 1847. More than 69 former inhabitants; the remains of St. John O'Sullivan, who recognized the property's historic value and working tirelessly to conserve and rebuild its structures, are buried at the entrance to the cemetery on west side of the property, a statue raised in his honor stands at the head of the crypt; the surviving chapel serves as the final resting place of three priests who passed on while serving at the Mission: José Barona, Vicente Fustér, Vicente Pascual Oliva are all entombed beneath the sanctuary floor. The Criolla or "Mission grape," was first planted at San Juan Capistrano in 1779, in 1783 the first wine produced in Alta California was from the Mission's winery.
The Mission entered a long period of gradual decline after Mexican government secularization in 1833. After 1850 U. S. statehood, numerous efforts were made over the latter 19th century to restore the Mission to its former state, but none achieved much success until the arrival of O'Sullivan in 1910. Restoration efforts continue, "Serra's Chapel" is still used for religious services. Over 500,000 visitors, including 80,000 school children, come to the Mission each year, and while the ruins of "The Great Stone Church" are a renowned architectural wonder, the Mission is best known for the annual "Return of the Swallows", traditionally observed every March 19. Mission San Juan Capistrano has served as a favorite subject for many notable artists, has been immortalized in literature and on film numerous times more than any other mission. In 1984, a modern church complex was constructed just north and west of the Mission compound and is now known as Mission Basilica San Juan Capistrano. Today, the mission compound serves as a museum, with the Serra Chapel within the compound serving as a chapel for the mission parish.
The natives ate acorns that they turned into soups and bread. The former Spanish settlement at Sajavit lies within that area occupied during the late Paleoindian period and continuing on into the present day by the Native American society known as the Juaneño. Many contemporary Juaneño, who identify themselves as descendents of the indigenous society living in the local San Juan and San Mateo Creek drainage areas, have adopted the indigenous term Acjachemen, their language was related to the Luiseño language spoken by the nearby Luiseño tribe. The Acjachemen territory extended from Las Pulgas Creek in northern San Diego County up into the San Joaquin Hills along Orange County's central coast, inland from the Pacific Ocean up into the Santa Ana Mountains; the bulk of the population occupied the outlets of two large creeks, San Juan Creek and San Mateo Creek. The highest concentration of villages was along the lower San Juan, where Mission San Juan Capistrano was situated and is preserved today.
The Acjachemen resided in seasonal camps. Village populations ranged from between 35 and 300 inhabitants, consisting of a single lineage in the smaller villages, of a dominant clan joined with other families in the larger settlements; each clan was "politically" independent. The elite class, a middle class, people of disconnected or wandering families and captives of war comprised the three hierarchical social classes. Native leadership consisted of the Nota, or clan chief, who conducted community rites and regulated ceremonial life in conjunction with the council of elders, made up of lineage heads and ceremonial specialists in their own right; this body decided upon matters of the community, which were carried out by the Nota and his underlings. While the placement of residential huts in a village was not regulated, the ceremonial enclo
The Viceroyalty of New Spain was an integral territorial entity of the Spanish Empire, established by Habsburg Spain during the Spanish colonization of the Americas. It covered a huge area that included territories in North America, South America and Oceania, it originated in 1521 after the fall of Mexico-Tenochtitlan, the main event of the Spanish conquest, which did not properly end until much as its territory continued to grow to the north. It was created on 8 March 1535 as a viceroyalty, the first of four viceroyalties Spain created in the Americas, its first viceroy was Antonio de Mendoza y Pacheco, the capital of the viceroyalty was Mexico City, established on the ancient Mexico-Tenochtitlan. It included what is now Mexico plus the current U. S. states of California, Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, Washington and parts of Idaho, Wyoming, Kansas and Louisiana. The political organization divided the viceroyalty into captaincies general; the kingdoms were those of New Spain. There were four captaincies: Captaincy General of the Philippines, Captaincy General of Cuba, Captaincy General of Puerto Rico and Captaincy General of Santo Domingo.
These territorial subdivisions had a captain general. In Guatemala, Santo Domingo and Nueva Galicia, these officials were called presiding governors, since they were leading royal audiences. For this reason, these hearings were considered "praetorial." There were two great estates. The most important was the Marquisate of the Valley of Oaxaca, property of Hernán Cortés and his descendants that included a set of vast territories where marquises had civil and criminal jurisdiction, the right to grant land and forests and within which were their main possessions; the other estate was the Duchy of Atlixco, granted in 1708, by King Philip V to José Sarmiento de Valladares, former viceroy of New Spain and married to the Countess of Moctezuma, with civil and criminal jurisdiction over Atlixco, Guachinango and Tula de Allende. King Charles III introduced reforms in the organization of the viceroyalty in 1786, known as Bourbon reforms, which created the intendencias, which allowed to limit, in some way, the viceroy's attributions.
New Spain developed regional divisions, reflecting the impact of climate, indigenous populations, mineral resources. The areas of central and southern Mexico had dense indigenous populations with complex social and economic organization; the northern area of Mexico, a region of nomadic and semi-nomadic indigenous populations, was not conducive to dense settlements, but the discovery of silver in Zacatecas in the 1540s drew settlement there to exploit the mines. Silver mining not only became the engine of the economy of New Spain, but vastly enriched Spain and transformed the global economy. New Spain was the New World terminus of the Philippine trade, making the viceroyalty a vital link between Spain's New World empire and its Asian empire. From the beginning of the 19th century, the viceroyalty fell into crisis, aggravated by the Peninsular War, its direct consequence in the viceroyalty, the political crisis in Mexico in 1808, which ended with the government of viceroy José de Iturrigaray and gave rise to the Conspiracy of Valladolid and the Conspiracy of Querétaro.
This last one was the direct antecedent of the Mexican War of Independence, when concluding in 1821, disintegrated the viceroyalty and gave way to the Mexican Empire, in which Agustín de Iturbide would be crowned. The Kingdom of New Spain was established following the Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire in 1521 as a New World kingdom dependent on the Crown of Castile, since the initial funds for exploration came from Queen Isabella. Although New Spain was a dependency of Spain, it was a kingdom not a colony, subject to the presiding monarch on the Iberian Peninsula; the monarch had sweeping power in the overseas territories,The king possessed not only the sovereign right but the property rights. Every privilege and position, economic political, or religious came from him, it was on this basis that the conquest and government of the New World was achieved. The Viceroyalty of New Spain was established in 1535 in the Kingdom of New Spain, it was the first New World viceroyalty and one of only two in the Spanish empire until the 18th century Bourbon Reforms.
The Spanish Empire comprised the territories in the north overseas'Septentrion', from North America and the Caribbean, to the Philippine and Caroline Islands. At its greatest extent, the Spanish crown claimed on the mainland of
San Diego Bay
San Diego Bay is a natural harbor and deepwater port located in San Diego County, California near the U. S.–Mexico border. The bay, 12 miles long and 1 to 3 miles wide, is the third largest of the three large, protected natural bays on California's entire 840 miles long coastline after San Francisco Bay and Humboldt Bay; the urbanized land adjacent to the bay includes the city of San Diego and four other cities: National City, Chula Vista, Imperial Beach and Coronado. Considered to be one of the best natural harbors on the west coast of North America, it was colonized by Spain beginning in 1769, it served as base headquarters of major ships of the United States Navy in the Pacific until just before the United States entered World War II, when the newly organized United States Pacific Fleet primary base was transferred to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. However, San Diego Bay remains as a home port of major assets, including several aircraft carriers, of the United States Pacific Fleet, as a result of base closures beginning in the 1980s, facilities in San Diego Bay are the major naval base facilities still in operation in California.
The Port of San Diego has a cruise ship terminal. A second cruise ship terminal opened in December 2010; the port handles more than 3 million metric tons of cargo yearly. The cruise ship terminal hosted more than 250 ship calls a year totaling more than 800,000 passengers at its peak in 2008. General Dynamics' National Steel and Shipbuilding Company, the only shipyard on the west coast capable of building and repairing large ocean-going vessels, is near the San Diego side of the San Diego-Coronado Bay Bridge. San Diego International Airport is adjacent to the bay, across Harbor Drive from the Coast Guard Station; the bay is spanned by the San Diego–Coronado Bridge, built in 1969. The bridge curves and rises to a height of 200 feet above the water so that Navy ships can pass under it; the bridge was a toll bridge. Known as Commercial Basin and housing much of San Diego's sport and commercial fishing fleet, the small cove in the southern lee of Shelter Island was renamed in 1994 to America's Cup Harbor, in honor of the 1995 America's Cup races held in San Diego.
America's Cup Harbor has several boat yards and marinas for private sailing yachts, as well as a mooring field. Numerous resorts and the San Diego Convention Center are adjacent to the Bay. Several parks and nature preserves are found at various locations along the shoreline. Sightseeing boats depart from the downtown area. Commercial sport fishing and whale watching tours depart from Shelter Island. Ten museum ships call San Diego Bay home, they include the USS Midway, an aircraft carrier museum, the Star of India, the oldest iron-hulled merchant ship afloat and the world's oldest active sailing ship. The Star of India and eight other ships and boats on San Diego Bay are the floating collection of the San Diego Maritime Museum. In the northern part of the bay there are two commercial "islands" called Harbor Island and Shelter Island, they were built up from former sand bars and now hold hotels, restaurants and public parkland. Across from Harbor Island is a bayside park called Spanish Landing, a historic site which commemorates the meeting in 1769 of two expeditions from Spanish Mexico that made possible the European settlement of California.
Spanish Landing park is the site of San Salvador Village, where the San Diego Maritime Museum is constructing a full-sized functional wooden replica of the San Salvador flagship, in which explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo discovered San Diego Bay in 1542. Small boat sailing is popular, the bay is lined by dozens of marinas and nine yacht clubs, including the San Diego Yacht Club, the home of the America's Cup from 1988 to 1995. An inlet of the bay was renamed America's Cup Harbor to commemorate that occasion. An annual fireworks display called the Big Bay Boom is held on the Fourth of July over the waters of the Bay. Fireworks are launched from four barges in the Bay as well as from a pier in Imperial Beach, it is one of the largest annual fireworks displays in the United States and is viewed by half a million people each year. The Parade of Lights is a parade of more than 80 small boats with holiday decorations and lights on two Sundays in December; the parade has been held annually since 1972.
The parade starts off Shelter Island and proceeds past Harbor Island and Downtown, finishing at the Coronado ferry landing. A one-time special event was the "Parade of Flight" in February 2011, celebrating the 100th anniversary of naval aviation, it featured flights over San Diego Bay by more than 200 historic naval aircraft, concluded with a flyover by the air wing from the U. S. S. John C. Stennis; the western border of the bay is protected from the Pacific Ocean by a long, narrow strip of land called the Silver Strand. The northern end of the Silver Strand expands to become North Island, the location of Naval Air Station North Island and Coronado. Coronado is the site of the famous Hotel del Coronado; the U. S. Na