Tent City

For almost forty years, from 1900 to 1939, Coronado was home to a resort called “Tent City.” Readers today may think only of the Hotel Del Coronado when Coronado comes to mind, but Tent City was owned and run as a resort by the same people who owned the Del, the Coronado Beach Company.

John Spreckels, who’d acquired the Coronado Beach Company in 1889, a year after the Del opened, established Tent City in 1900. Here’s a photo from a promotional booklet published by the beach company in 1903:

In his 1908 book on the history of San Diego, historian William Smythe paid tribute to Tent City as “one of [Coronado’s] most attractive features. On the narrow peninsula east of the hotel, several hundred tents and palmleaf-covered cottages are erected early each summer, where a large number of people go to spend a few weeks beside the ocean…It is one of the coast’s most popular resorts, especially with those who seek to escape the summer heat of the warm interiors.”

Here’s another photo from 1903 of some of those bathers cooling off.


Tent City drew 10,000 residents during its June-through-September season in 1914. It would continue as a destination until 1939, when it closed to make way for highway construction.

Here’s a link to the 1903 booklet, which is in the UCSD archives:


In addition to the abovementioned book and website, sources for this post also included historic San Diego County newspapers and the website of the Coronado Historical Association.

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