Celebrating San Diego’s History Before and Beyond 250 Years

| August 5, 2019 | 1 Comment

For those of you who are not aware of it, the year of 2019 represents 250 years when San Diego became the first European settlement in the State of California.  Presidio Park, located just above Old Town San Diego, is one of the most significant historical sites on the West Coast.  That’s because, in 1769, Gaspar de Portolà and his expedition founded the Presidio of San Diego (military post), and on July 16, Franciscan friars Junípero Serra, Juan Viscaino and Fernando Parron raised and blessed a cross.

And, though this is significant for California history, what is also important is to recognize those who lived here before then, the Kumeyaay Indians, who have lived in the greater San Diego area for some 12,000 years (with 600 generations).

This past month, on July 16, the Junipero Serra Museum in Presidio Park was the site of the commemoration of this occurrence and also to remember those who contributed and sacrificed much for this region. 

In addition to tours of the renovated Serra Museum, there were performances by various cultural groups, San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer spoke, as did other elected officials.  The finale to the event, was the dedication of the Kumeyaay flag at Presidio Park.  It was a memorable and historic occasion.

Recently, I spoke to Ray Carpenter, a trustee of the San Diego History Center, who was present at the commemoration and had taken an active role in the renovation of the Serra Museum, as well as getting others to join this effort.  Carpenter, a native San Diegan, said he has very fond memories of visiting the Serra Museum and Presidio Park with his grandmother when he was a child.  She was instrumental in helping him learn of the area and its historical importance.

In terms of helping with the renovation of the Serra Museum and working on the commemoration of the site, he said he was pleased to assist and be a part of honoring the legacy of others who made this possible. 

Carpenter also spoke of the importance of educating San Diegans, children and adults, about the history of San Diego, “We need to keep the history alive so that people know the significance of San Diego and places like the Serra Museum, Presidio Park and Old Town San Diego.”

Carpenter also spoke of the importance of children and adults experiencing these historical sites. He was pleased to learn that the Old Town San Diego Chamber of Commerce is continuing to sponsor a fourth grade program for San Diego students to gain this education and connection with the area. 

As we spoke, Carpenter reminded me of other San Diego philanthropists who have given us so much to be proud of, including George Marston, who in 1907 bought Presidio Hill, site of the original Presidio of San Diego, which had fallen into ruins. Recognizing its importance as the site of the first European settlement in California, he developed it into a park (planned by architect John Nolen in 1926) with his own funds, and built the Serra Museum (designed by architect William Templeton Johnson). In 1929 he donated the park to the city, and it is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

We are fortunate in so many ways to have had civic-minded citizens of San Diego who invested their time, talents and resources to San Diego.  Without them, we might lose the history and uniqueness of San Diego that makes this city so special. 

I encourage you to thank all of the civic-minded people who continue to play an active role in furthering the history, culture and traditions of San Diego.  And, please, support their causes, efforts and events in whatever way you can, including volunteering, donating and participating.

To continue to commemorate the 250th anniversary of San Diego, Old Town San Diego Chamber of Commerce will be holding a Founder’s Day Festival from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, September 14 and 15 in Old Town San Diego.  There will be historical enactments, cultural performances, and lots of activities for people of all ages.

Members of the Viejas Band of the Kumeyaay Nation, who are also veterans of the United States Armed Forces, were on hand to raise the Kumeyaay flag at Presidio Park.

Tags: , , , , , ,

Category: Education, Events, feature, Local News

About the Author ()