Look Up, San Diego! A Walking Tour of Old Town
There is no better way to see America than on foot. And there is no better way to appreciate what you are looking at than with a walking tour. This walking tour of San Diego - Old Town is ready to explore when you are. Each walking tour describes historical, architectural landmarks, cultural sites and ecclesiastic touchstones and provides step-by-step directions. More
There is no better way to see America than on foot. And there is no better way to appreciate what you are looking at than with a walking tour. Whether you are preparing for a road trip or just out to look at your own town in a new way, a downloadable walking tour is ready to explore when you are.
Each walking tour describes historical and architectural landmarks and provides pictures to help out when those pesky street addresses are missing. Every tour also includes a quick primer on identifying architectural styles seen on American streets.
Old Town San Diego lays claim as the birthplace of California by merit of Franciscan Friar Junipero Serra’s mission established in 1769. It was the first of 21 permanent Spanish missions and by the 1790s it was the largest. The area’s defensive position was established on Presidio Hill and the town grew up around its base.
Under Mexican rule after 1821, the tiny community gained the status of El Pueblo de San Diego. When Richard Henry Dana published his account of his life at sea in Two Years Before the Mast he described his stop at the port of San Diego in 1835 thusly: “about forty dark brown looking huts...and three or four larger ones, white-washed.”
When California became a part of the United States in 1850 San Diego, with a population of 650, was incorporated as a city and named the county seat of the newly established San Diego County. Still, most visitors moved on up the coast when sailing around Cape Horn and South America. By 1860 the population was only 731.
More ominous for the community was the establishment of “New Town” San Diego four miles to the south and closer to the harbor. The exodus from “Old Town” was so complete that in 1871, government records were moved to a new county courthouse in New Town. The following year a fire crippled what was left of original San Diego. By the 1880s there was no more New Town - it was just San Diego.
Long forgotten Old Town San Diego became an historic park in 1968. Three original adobes were restored and other structures rebuilt. Many are now home to cultural museums, shops and restaurants. Our walking tour of the birthplace of San Diego will begin on the town square that, in the Spanish tradition, was at the center of commercial and social life...