San Diego, California

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San Diego, California
Official flag of San Diego, California Official seal of San Diego, California
City flag City seal
City nickname: "America's Finest City"
Location of San Diego, California
Location of San Diego
within San Diego County
County San Diego
Mayor vacant
Physical characteristics
372.0 mi² / 963.6 km²
     324.3 mi² / 840.0 km²
     47.7 mi² / 123.5 km²
     Total (2005)
3,051,280 (metropolitan area)
     1,305,736 (city proper)
Latitude 32°42'54" N
Longitude 117°9'45" W
Time zone
     Summer (DST)
     PDT (UTC-7)
Official website:

Other City Officials
City Attorney Michael Aguirre

City Council
District One Scott Peters
District Two vacant
District Three Toni Atkins, Deputy Mayor
District Four Tony Young
District Five Brian Maienschein
District Six Donna Frye
District Seven Jim Madaffer,
Mayor pro tempore
District Eight vacant

Other City Symbols
City Flower: Carnation
City Urban Tree: Jacaranda
City Native Tree: Torrey Pine

San Diego is a coastal southern California city located in the extreme southwestern corner of the continental United States. It is the county seat of San Diego County. As of the 2000 census, the city had a total population of 1,223,400; as of 2005, the California Department of Finance estimated the city to have 1,305,736 residents. The city is the second-largest in California and the seventh-largest in the United States and is noted for its temperate climate and many beaches. It is also the home of many U.S. military facilities, including U.S. Navy ports, Marine Corps bases, and Coast Guard stations. It is the home port of the largest naval fleet in the world, including two Navy supercarriers (the USS Nimitz and the USS Ronald Reagan) five amphibious assault ships, several Los Angeles-class submarines, and many smaller ships. One of the Marine Corps' two Recruit Depots is located here. San Diego is also known as the "birthplace of naval aviation," though Pensacola, Florida makes a rival claim.

Several Navy vessels have been named USS San Diego in honor of the city.



The area has long been inhabited by the Kumeyaay people. The first European to visit the region was Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, sailing under the flag of Spain, in 1542. He named it San Miguel. The San Diego Bay and the area of present-day San Diego were given their current names by Sebastian Vizcaino when he was mapping the coastline of Alta California for Spain in 1602. The explorers camped near a Native American village called Nipaguay and celebrated Mass in honor of San Diego de Alcala (Saint Didacus of Alcalá). California was then part of the colony of New Spain.

In 1769, Gaspar de Portolà and his expedition founded a presidio (military post), and on July 16, Franciscan friars Junípero Serra, Juan Viscaino and Fernando Parron raised and blessed a cross, establishing the first mission in Upper California, Mission San Diego de Alcala. Colonists began arriving in 1774; the following year, the native people rebelled. They killed the priest and two others, and burned the mission. Father Serra organized the rebuilding and two years later a fire-proof adobe structure was built. By 1797 the mission had become the largest in California, with over 1,400 natives associated with it.

In 1821, Spain recognized Mexico's independence. The governor of Alta California and Baja California moved the capital to San Diego from Monterey. The mission was secularized in 1834 and 432 people petitioned Governor José Figueroa to form a town. Commandant Santiago Arguello endorsed it. Juan Maria Osuna was elected the first alcalde (mayor), winning over Pio Pico in the 13 ballots cast. However, the population of the town shrank to little over a hundred persons, and by the late 1830s it lost its township until the province of Alta California became part of the United States in 1850 following the Mexican defeat in the Mexican-American War. The village was designated the seat of the newly-established San Diego County and incorporated as a city.

In 1885, San Diego was linked to the rest of the nation by railroad. San Diego was reincorporated as a city in 1886.

Significant U.S. Naval presence began in 1907 with the establishment of the Navy Coaling Station.

San Diego hosted two World's Fairs, the Panama-California Exposition in 1915 and the California Pacific International Exposition in 1935.

Since World War II, the military has played a leading role in the local economy. Following the end of the Cold War the military presence has diminished considerably. San Diego has since become a center of the emerging biotech industry and is home to telecommunications giant Qualcomm.

Largely because of their city's strong military presence, San Diegans have a reputation for being more politically conservative than residents of California's other coastal cities. This reputation is undeserved and inaccurate, however. Indications are that while suburban areas of San Diego County are fairly Republican, the city of San Diego itself tilts toward Democrats, for example Al Gore and John Kerry both won the city of San Diego despite losing San Diego County narrowly; notably, reports [1] show that as of 2005 registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans, 39% to 34%, within the city itself.

Beginning in 2003, the public became aware of an ongoing pension fund scandal which has left the city with an estimated $1.4 billion pension fund gap. Despite mounting problems with city finances the incumbent Mayor Dick Murphy narrowly won re-election with a plurality of votes. Some controversy ensued during and after the election when, contrary the San Diego City Charter, current city councilmember Donna Frye was allowed to run as a write-in candidate one month before election day. While more may have intended to vote for her than Dick Murphy, many did not fill in the "bubble" next to her written name and thus these were not counted as legitimate votes.

With mounting pressure, Mayor Dick Murphy, in April 2005, announced his intent to resign by mid-July. A few days after his resignation two city councilmembers, Ralph Inzunza and deputy mayor Michael Zucchet, who was to take Murphy's place, were convicted for taking bribes in a scheme to get the city's "no touch" laws at strip clubs repealed. Both subsequently resigned.

On July 26, 2005, city councilmember Donna Frye finished first in the special election to replace Dick Murphy with 43% of the vote, but was without the majority required to win outright. She will face the second place finisher, former San Diego police chief Jerry Sanders on a November 8, 2005 ballot. Districts Two and Eight will also vote on replacements for departed councilmembers Michael Zucchet and Ralph Inzunza.


San Diego is located at 32°46'46" North, 117°8'47" West (32.779541, -117.146344)1 (about 100 miles south of Los Angeles).

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 963.6 km² (372.0 mi²). 840.0 km² (324.3 mi²) of it is land and 123.5 km² (47.7 mi²) of it is water. The total area is 12.82% water.

The city's borders are very irregularly shaped because of the absorption of many suburbs into the city limits. Additionally, the numerous canyons that run through the city create natural boundaries and obstacles to development. When conjoined with Tijuana, the San Diego-Tijuana metropolitan area has 4,688,762 making it the 21st largest metropolitan area in the Americas.


skyline at night
skyline at night

As of the census2 of 2000, there are 1,223,400 people, 450,691 households, and 271,315 families residing in the city. The population density is 1,456.4/km² (3,771.9/mi²). There are 469,689 housing units at an average density of 559.1/km² (1,448.1/mi²). The racial makeup of the city is 47.18% White, 9.86% African American, 1.62% Native American, 13.65% Asian, 0.48% Pacific Islander, 12.39% from other races, and 4.83% from two or more races. 25.40% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race. The city's Asian ethnicities breakdown accordingly: Filipino (6.1%), Vietnamese (2.2%), Chinese (1.9%), Other Asian (1.5%), Japanese (0.8%), Korean (0.6%), Asian Indian (0.6%).

There are 450,691 households out of which 30.2% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 44.6% are married couples living together, 11.4% have a female householder with no husband present, and 39.8% are non-families. 28.0% of all households are made up of individuals and 7.4% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.61 and the average family size is 3.30.

In the city the population is spread out with 24.0% under the age of 18, 12.4% from 18 to 24, 34.0% from 25 to 44, 19.1% from 45 to 64, and 10.5% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 32 years. For every 100 females there are 101.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 100.4 males.

The median income for a household in the city is $45,733, and the median income for a family is $53,060. Males have a median income of $36,984 versus $31,076 for females. The per capita income for the city is $23,609. 14.6% of the population and 10.6% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 20.0% of those under the age of 18 and 7.6% of those 65 and older are living below the poverty line.

Current estimates

According to estimates by the San Diego Association of Governments, the median household income of San Diego in 2004 was $56,438 (not adjusted for inflation). When adjusted for inflation (1999 dollars; comparable to Census data above), the median household income was $50,543.


Downtown's Marina district
Downtown's Marina district
Old Town, San Diego
Old Town, San Diego
San Diego's growing skyline
San Diego's growing skyline

Northwestern: Bay Ho, Bay Park, Carmel Valley, Clairemont, Clairemont Mesa, Del Mar Heights, Fairbanks Country Club, La Jolla, La Jolla Shores, La Jolla Village, Linda Vista, North City, North Clairemont, Pacific Highlands Ranch, Sorrento Hills, Sorrento Valley, Torrey Hills, Torrey Pines, University City, Via de la Valle

North Central: Kearny Mesa, Mission Village, Serra Mesa

Northeastern: Carmel Mountain Ranch, Miramar, Miramar Ranch North, Mira Mesa, Rancho Bernardo, Rancho Peñasquitos, Sabre Springs, San Pasqual, Scripps Ranch (Scripps Miramar Ranch), Sorrento Mesa

Eastern: Allied Gardens, Birdland, Del Cerro, East Elliott, Grantville, Lake Murray, Mission Valley East, Navajo, San Carlos, Tierrasanta

Western: Crown Point, La Playa, Loma Portal, Midtown, Midway, Mission Bay Park, Mission Beach, Morena, Ocean Beach, Pacific Beach, Peninsula, Point Loma, Point Loma Heights, Roseville-Fleetridge, Sunset Cliffs

Central: Balboa Park, Barrio Logan, Centre City, Core-Columbia, Cortez, Gaslamp Quarter, Golden Hill, Grant Hill, Hillcrest, Harborview, Horton Plaza, Little Italy, Logan Heights, Marina, Memorial, Mission Hills, Mission Valley West, Mountain View, North Park, Old Town, Park West, Sherman Heights, South Park, Stockton, University Heights, Uptown

Mid-City: City Heights, College Area, Chollas Creek, Darnall, El Cerrito, Gateway, Kensington, Normal Heights, Oak Park, Rolando, Talmadge, Webster

Southeastern: Alta Vista, Broadway Heights, Chollas View, Emerald Hills, Jamacha, Lomita, Lincoln Park, Mountain View, Mt. Hope, North Bay Terraces, North Encanto, Paradise Hills, Shelltown, Skyline, South Bay Terraces, South Encanto, Southcrest, Valencia Park

Southern: Egger Highlands, Nestor, Ocean Crest, Otay Mesa, Otay Mesa West, Palm City, San Ysidro, Tijuana River Valley


San Diego has had a declining crime rate since the early 1990's. In 1991 the number of murders was 167, in 2004 the number of murders was only 62. San Diego is now one of America's safest cities.


Largest and most well-known universities in the area:

A number of smaller colleges and universities exist within the city and surrounding areas. They include:



Owing to its privileged position on the Pacific Ocean and its warm Mediterranean-style climate, San Diego enjoys an abundance of quality produce and dining. With a myriad ethnic and cultural mix, San Diego is well known for its wide selection of cuisines. One can find excellent Mexican, Italian, Greek, Latin, Central and East Asian, Middle Eastern and Pacific Islander food throughout the city. The city's long history and close proximity to Mexico has endowed an endless array of Mexican cafes and restaurants. Regional homemade specialties, border fare and haute cuisine are all easily available.

San Diego's warm, dry climate and access to the sea have also made it a natural center for the production of fruit and vegetables. Long a center of the tuna industry, San Diego benefits from an abundant seafood supply.

Several of the finest choices of dining can be found in the Gaslamp Quarter, Little Italy, La Jolla and Old Town. The city's many immigrant and ethnic groups have heavily influenced local eating habits and tastes.

Local specialties include:

  • Mexican cuisine (including carne asada, burritos, fish tacos, enchiladas, and ceviche)
  • Woodfired, California-styled Pizza
  • Wide variety of salads made from fresh, local produce (including Caesar, Greek, Mixed, and Caprese Salads)
  • Southern Italian-styled pastas, panini, and pizzas
  • Varieties of shish kebabs, shashlyk, and Gyros
  • Southeast Asian specialties including spring rolls,egg rolls and pho
  • Locally produced, artisan bread
  • Local Wines (San Pasqual Valley, Rancho Bernardo)
  • Locally produced (from the mountains near Julian) hard and sweet apple cider
  • Various fruits and vegetables (including avocados, tomatoes, mushrooms, olives, eggplant, oranges, lemons, limes, strawberries, grapefruit, grapes, apples, pomegranates, persimmons, and melons)

Several chain restaurants have gotten their start in San Diego. These include Jack in the Box, Pat & Oscar's, Souplantation (March 1978), Rubio's, and Anthony's Fish Grotto. Rubio's fish tacos were also featured at the 1996 Republican National Convention.


Shopping malls

Sites of interest

San Diego at sunset, 2001
San Diego at sunset, 2001

San Diego is a major tourist destination, attracting visitors from all over the world. Among the many attractions are its beaches, climate, and deserts. Noted San Diego tourist attractions include:

(* An asterisk designates National Historic Landmarks)

San Diego is about two hours south of Los Angeles and north adjacent to Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico.


Club Sport League Stadium Logo
San Diego Chargers Football NFL Qualcomm Stadium
San Diego Gulls Hockey East Coast Hockey League iPayOne Center
San Diego Padres Baseball MLB PETCO Park
San Diego Riptide Arena football Arena Football League 2 iPayOne Center
San Diego Surf Dawgs Baseball Golden Baseball League Tony Gwynn Stadium
So Cal Scorpions Football WPFL Edward's Stadium

San Diego has several sports venues. Jack Murphy Field at Qualcomm Stadium hosts football and soccer games. Baseball can be seen at Petco Park and Tony Gwynn Stadium. iPayOne Center, formerly the San Diego Sports Arena, hosts hockey, arena football, and basketball, which is also hosted at Cox Arena at Aztec Bowl. Jenny Craig Pavilion at the University of San Diego hosts basketball and volleyball games.

SDSU Aztecs (MWC) and the USD Toreros (WCC) are NCAA Division I teams. The UCSD Tritons (CCAA) are members of the NCAA Division II while the PLNU Sea Lions (GSAC) are members of the NAIA.

San Diego in popular culture

Being the home of Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, San Diego is the primary location for the 1986 movie Top Gun about the real-life TOPGUN program. The bar featured in the piano scene, Kansas City BBQ, is on the corner of Kettner Boulevard and West Harbor Drive (near the Manchester Grand Hyatt hotel) and contains memorabilia from the film.

San Diego and Los Angeles are part of the futuristic utopian megacity San Angeles in the 1993 movie Demolition Man.

In the comic book series Aquaman, half of San Diego was plunged into the Pacific Ocean by an earthquake.

The fictional town of Neptune, California (as portrayed in the hit television show Veronica Mars) is said to be a suburb of San Diego.

San Diego of the 1970s is the setting for the 2004 comedy film Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy starring Will Ferrell as Ron Burgundy. The Burgundy character is partially inspired by former San Diego television news personalities.

In Jurassic Park II, a T-Rex rampaged through the city.

The Season Two finale of television series Quantum Leap, "M.I.A", was based around San Diego's Naval Base.

Writer/Director Cameron Crowe attended University of San Diego High School. He later went "undercover" at Clairemont High School as a student to oberve the students, who were the basis for his book and screenplay "Fast Times at Ridgemont High". The semi-autobiographical "Almost Famous", which Crowe also wrote and directed, show shots of San Diego and the Ocean Beach Pier, where main character "Billy Crudup" grew up.


Trolley (LRT) Old Town, San Diego
Trolley (LRT) Old Town, San Diego

San Diego has trolley (LRT), bus [2], Coaster [3], and Amtrak service. However, these systems serve limited routes and schedules; the vast majority of transportation in San Diego is by private automobile.

San Diego includes a comprehensive collection of freeways, highways, major arterial roads, and streets that forms circles around the interior and outlying areas in the county. Almost every major freeway in the county crosses through the city, but all are important to the flow of goods and people into and out of the city. Of note is that San Diego is the only major California metropolitan area to have its freeway system completed as originally planned, except for Routes 125 and Route 56.

San Diego International Airport, also known as Lindbergh International Airport or Lindbergh Field, is the primary commercial airport serving San Diego. Other airports include Brown Field Airport (Brown Field) and Montgomery Field Municipal Airport (Montgomery Field).

Military institutions

Sister cities

San Diego has fifteen sister cities, as designated by Sister Cities International, Inc. (SCI): Alcala de Henares (Spain), Campinas (Brazil), Warsaw (Poland), Yantai (China), Yokohama (Japan), Taichung City (China), Jalalabad (Afghanistan), Cavite City (Philippines), Jeonju (South Korea), Edinburgh (Scotland, United Kingdom), Leon (Mexico), Perth (Australia), Tema (Ghana), Tijuana (Mexico), and Vladivostok (Russia).

External links

Travel guide to San Diego from Wikitravel

Incorporated cities of San Diego County, California
Seal of San Diego County
Population over 100,000: San Diego (County seat) | Chula Vista | Oceanside | Escondido
Population over 50,000: Carlsbad | El Cajon | Encinitas | La Mesa | Lemon Grove |
National City | San Marcos | Santee | Vista
Population under 50,000: Coronado | Del Mar | Imperial Beach | Poway | Solana Beach

Flag of California State of California
Capital Sacramento
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Large cities

Bakersfield | Fresno | Los Angeles-Long Beach | Sacramento | San Diego | San Jose-San Francisco-Oakland | Santa Ana-Anaheim-Irvine

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