Snapshot of San Diego 1874

Here’s a figurative snapshot of San Diego, 143 years ago.

It’s from a book, published in 1874, entitled: Descriptive, Historical, Commercial, Agricultural and Important Information Relative to the City of San Diego, California, Illustrated with 22 Photographic Views, Containing also A Business Directory of the City.

Yes, that’s the title. Books in those days boasted titles that could be a chapter in themselves. Almost wore out the italics key on that one.

At any rate, the book was published in 1874 by the San Diego Chamber of Commerce as a way to promote the city and the county. It was printed by the offices of a relatively new paper called The San Diego Daily Union, which had transitioned from a weekly to a daily only a few years before.

The book has all kinds of interesting info about the region at that time. Of course it was a promotional document, but it also employed a lot of factual information, like statistics on weather, the local economy, and a business directory drawn from official sources of the day. And even the boosterism offers an instructive picture of San Diego and its movers and shakers in the day.

The population of the city at that point was “about three thousand….who have sought this locality for its health-giving climate and the near prospect of a large commercial town. The population of the county may be safely set down at nine thousand.”

“Adjacent to the city, and adjoining its lands on the south, is the pleasant little town of National City. It is a portion of the Rancho de la Nacion, which has a frontage of six miles on the bay. The population is not numerous, but it is steadily increasing. Here are an excellent wharf, stores, post-office, public school, fine residences, and a large number of vegetable and fruit gardens and nurseries….All the travel via Fort Yuma from Arizona and New Mexico passes through National City.”

“It is confidently predicted that in a few years hence one great city will extend for miles along the bay, including what is now National City and San Diego.”

The book is in the public domain, accessible on Google Books, https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Descriptive_Historical_Commercial_Agricultural_and?id=AXpNAAAAYAAJ&hl=en . We can thank Judy Russell, a lawyer and genealogical blogger, for revealing its existence on her fine blog, The Legal Genealogist, http://www.legalgenealogist.com/ .

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Happy Labor Day!

“The labor of the world is the foundation of the world. If you don’t stand for your rights today your rights tomorrow will be fewer still. The human stomach cannot fight a bank vault. The stomach will get empty, but the bank vault holds its own. Keep on pulling and working together and labor will be rewarded. Place men in your legislative halls who have the nerve and the brain to stand up for the rights of labor. Then money will not mould nine-tenths of the legislation of this country as it does now. I want you to feel that my soul is with you if my mouth does not do you much good.”

Excerpt from a talk given by J. L. Dryden to an open meeting of the San Diego Carpenters Union No. 182 on May 2, 1890 at a hall downtown. Reported in the San Diego Union, May 3, 1890.

Dryden was a lawyer active in civic affairs in San Diego County in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Among other things, he was one of the original trustees for the San Diego Normal School, which would eventually become San Diego State University. Dryden was also a candidate for the state senate and assembly for the county Populist party during the 1890s.

Sources for this post included historic San Diego and Poway newspapers and the book, City of San Diego and San Diego County: The Birthplace of California, by Clarence Alan McGrew, published in 1922.

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You can get weekly updates of San Diego History Seeker automatically in your email by clicking on the “Follow” button in the lower right corner of the blog page. You’ll then get an email asking you to confirm. Once you confirm you’ll be an active follower.