San Diego (săn dēā´gō), city (1990 pop. 1,110,549), seat of San Diego co., S Calif., on San Diego Bay; inc. 1850. San Diego includes the unincorporated communities of La Jolla and Spring Valley. Coronado is across the bay.
San Diego is the second largest city in California and the seventh largest in the United States, and has an excellent natural harbor. It is an important port of entry; a shipping and receiving point for S California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Mexico's Baja California; and headquarters for the 11th U.S. naval district. San Diego has large aerospace, electronic, and shipbuilding industries, and is an important center for the wireless communications industry, biomedical research, biotechnology industries, and oceanography. It is also a distribution and processing point for a highly productive agricultural area. Other manufactures include industrial instruments and machinery, computer hardware and software, apparel, and processed foods. Tourism is an important element in the economy; the city has a delightful climate, miles of beaches, historic attractions, and a proximity to Mexico.
Landmarks and Institutions
San Diego is a cultural, educational, and medical center. Its many health facilities include large naval and veterans hospitals. It is the seat of the Univ. of California at San Diego with its Scripps Institution of Oceanography, San Diego State Univ., the Univ. of San Diego, Alliant International Univ., and the Salk Institute for Biological Studies. Balboa Park contains an art gallery, several museums (including an aerospace museum), and the enormous San Diego Zoo. Some buildings from the Panama-California International Exposition (1915–16) and the California Pacific International Exposition (1935–36) remain, and there is a spectacular aquatic park.
Also of interest are Cabrillo National Monument and Mission San Diego de Alcalá (restored). Parts of Old Town are now a state historical park. San Diego is home to a professional baseball (the Padres) and football (the Chargers) team. The San Diego Yacht Club, representing the United States, won the America's Cup in 1987, successfully defended it in 1988 and 1992, then lost it in 1995. The city also has an international airport.
The city is located on the site of the first European settlement in California. Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo sailed into San Diego Bay in 1542 and claimed the land for Spain. In 1769 Junípero Serra, a Franciscan missionary, established Mission San Diego de Alcalá and dedicated the Presidio, the first Spanish fort in California. By 1830 most of the people were living in what is now Old Town. It was under Mexican jurisdiction from 1822, when Mexico won independence from Spain, until 1846, when it was captured by a U.S. naval force. The city's population surged when the Santa Fe RR arrived in 1884.
San Diego became an important U.S. naval base during World War I; later, other branches of the military established bases there. In the 1950s, this concentration of military installations gave rise to San Diego's aerospace industry. The diversification of San Diego's economic base in the latter part of the 20th cent. contributed to its rapid growth. An urban revitalization effort begun in the 1980s included Horton Plaza, an expansive shopping mall that won acclaim for its dramatic architecture, as well as the inauguration of a trolley system.
See M. McKeever, A Short History of San Diego (1985); D. Berger et al., San Diego: Where Tomorrow Begins (1987); P. R. Pryde, ed., San Diego (3d rev. ed. 1992).