You Might Say: A Tale of New Cities

Below is a  clipping of part of the front page of the San Diego Union issue of March 20, 1871.

I clipped this excerpt, which appeared at the top of column 1, as a snapshot of San Diego history. Please note the “Vol. 1” in the upper left. I included that detail because this issue was “Volume 1, Number One,” in other words, the Union’s very first issue as a daily paper. Up to then it had been only published weekly. Douglas Gunn, whose name appears on the paper’s masthead as a co-publisher-proprietor with S.W. Bushyhead, had in 1868 purchased a small interest in what was then the Weekly Union. In 1871 he assumed greater financial and editorial control and took the paper daily as of March 20.

Simultaneously with turning the paper into a daily, Gunn also moved the paper’s press from offices in what we today call Old Town San Diego to an emerging “New Town,”beginning to take shape closer to San Diego Bay.

The emergence of “New Town” is evident in the clip immediately below the paper’s masthead, displaying the “Business Card” of Alonzo Horton, who had purchased 900 acres in 1867 and begun developing it under various names including “Horton’s Extension” or “Horton’s Addition,” with the support of many in the then-small city (population less than 3,000), including Douglas Gunn and his newspaper.

The neighborhood’s name was still evolving, as evidenced a little over a week later, when the Union posted a legal notice in its April 1 issue from a state district court judge, then sitting in Los Angeles:

Sources for this post included historic San Diego newspapers, an August 2011 Union-Tribune article by historian Richard Crawford, and the 1887 book, Picturesque San Diego, With Historical and Descriptive Notes, by Douglas Gunn.


Come Hear the History Seeker

The photo at the top of this page shows Mule Hill, in the San Dieguito River Park. There’s a lot of history behind the hill and its name, which is one reason why I adopted it for the cover page of my blog. Mule Hill is also mentioned in two talks that I’ll be giving this month. On April 18th I’ll be speaking at the 4S Ranch Branch of the San Diego County Library. My topic will be: “What’s In a Name? A Lot of History.” There’s a story behind every place name, past and present, in San Diego County, and I’ll share some of those stories, from Mule Hill and Kettner Boulevard to a post office named Nellie, in my talk.

Then on Aptil 21st. I’ll be joining the folks at the Scripps Miramar Ranch Library where I’ll be  talking about “Picturesque San Diego: Images and Stories from the Past.” Picturesque San Diego is a book published in 1887 by Douglas Gunn, a former San Diego Union editor and former mayor of San Diego. The book is lavishly illustrated with photos of places throughout the county taken by one of the most prominent photographers of the day. My slideshow features many of those photos along with Gunn’s text describing a much more rural and much less populated county than the one we live in today.

The only thing I love more than visiting libraries is talking about history with other folks at libraries. Check out the county and city library websites for details on location and times and join us. If you can’t make it for these, I’ll be giving other talks in the months ahead. In the meantime, don’t forget to check out my blog posts as well as my books!