The southern most port on the
West Coast of the United State, the gateway to the little latitudes!
Home to thousands of boaters, racers, cruisers and water people!
On September 28, 1542, Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo and his crew on the ship the "San
Salvador", landed in what is now Point Loma, becoming the first Europeans to
California. Cabrillo named the area San Miguel. After leaving "San
Miguel", he continued north past Monterey, but died on January 3, 1543 while spending the
winter in the Channel Islands. Almost four hundred years later, in 1933, Cabrillo National Monument
Sebastian Vizcaino sailed much of the same route as Cabrillo and changed
almost all of the names Cabrillo had given to California lands, including San Miguel. San Miguel became San Diego,
the name of his flagship.
Vizcaino brought religion to San Diego. California's first church service occurred
on November 10, 1602. The service was conducted by
Dray Antonio de la Ascension, a Catholic friar from
|North Island Naval Station:
The history of North Island
parallels that of aviation history. Seven years after the Wright Brothers' first
flight, Glenn Curtiss made the first seaplane flight from the North Island Aviation Camp,
operated by the Army Signal Corp. That same year, North Island became the birthplace
of naval aviation when Navy lieutenant Theodore Ellyson was transferred here to receive
flight instruction from the Curtiss Aviation Camp. He later became Naval Aviator #1.
In 1917, the Naval Air Station, North Island, was formed on what was then almost a
real island. During WWII, the main channel was dredged to allow carriers into the
bay and the dredge was placed in the hollow known as Spanish Bight between North Island
and Coronado, forming one big "island". In 1935, Rueben H. Fleet founded
the first aircraft plant, Consolidated Air or Con Air in San Diego along Pacific Coast
Highway on the "mainland", thus continuing San Diego's avionics development.
Charles Lindbergh began his famous 1927 flight to Paris in the Spirit of St. Louis
from North Island.
In 1885, Elisha Babcock, Jr. and Hampton L. Story, purchased the island to fulfill their
dream of building a world-class resort for $110,000 and to finance their dream, subdivided
it into lots and held an auction. Over 6000 people attended, and sold 350 lots for a total
of $110,00.! Babcock's and Story's dream was realized in 1888 with the opening of
the Hotel del Coronado, a Victorian fantasy of cupolas, balconies and promenades, with a
spectacular Grand Ballroom overlooking the Pacific. But Babcock and Story had built
more than a hotel. With John D. Spreckels of Spreckels Sugar who purchased the holdings of
the Coronado Beach Company in 1889, they laid the groundwork for the entire village of
Coronado. They built roads and street car and railway lines, began a ferry service from
San Diego, put in water pipelines and electrical and telephone cables under the Bay,
planted trees along Orange, Palm and Olive Avenues, dredged Glorietta Bay, and set up a
lumber yard, planing mill, brick kiln, nursery and ship yard. By the time the Hotel
was completed, the village was on its way to becoming a reality. By 1890, Coronado had 450
residences, a race track, a museum, an ostrich farm and a candy factory. That same year,
the United States government took the first steps toward acquiring land on North Island
with an eye to building the most gigantic military and naval station on the
*Point Loma became the home of a military reservation by Executive Order Feb. 26, 1852,
located on the southern side three miles long. This area included Ballast Point where the
Spaniards had built Fort Guijarros in 1799. The Army established Fort Rosecrans in 1899
and it remained an Army base until transfer to the Navy in 1959 for the purpose of
building a submarine base on Ballast Point that was established Oct. 23, 1963. This
"island" was also the product of dredging operations in the 1940's to deepen and
widen the main channel for Naval ships.
Another dredging project, this time in the 60's.
*Hinds, James W. "San Diego's Military Sites," typed mss, SDHS, 1986