Attracting Patients and Doctors

The photo below is from a promotional pamphlet for the Florence Hotel, which opened for business in January 1884 on Fir Street between 3rd and 4th Avenues in downtown San Diego.

FlorenceHotel1889 (1)

The Florence was one of a number of new hotels built to accommodate a rising tourist trade in San Diego County in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. San Diego’s mild climate made “health tourism” an important part of the travel market of the day. The owner of the Florence, W.W. Bowers, who also happened to be Alonzo Horton’s brother-in-law, was interested in promoting his hotel for all comers, not just “invalids” or “consumptives,” to use two popular terms among the San Diego business community in those days. But he certainly wouldn’t turn down business from anyone either, including doctors themselves. In late 1883, as he was getting ready to open the Florence, Bowers felt compelled to write a letter to the San Diego Union that included this:

“I am not a doctor, neither am I building a sanatorium, asylum, hospital, nor home for the friendless. I am engaged in erecting what is intended to be a first-class family hotel, nothing more-no-less; the guests will, I suppose, do as at other hotels, choose their own physician if they desire one without the advice or interference of any employee of the house; I state this because I have in one day received as many as four applications for the position of physician-not from the doctors here, but from friends and relatives of doctors who want to come here.”

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