Where California Began

Took my mom to Presidio Park today, which on one side overlooks Interstate 8 running through Mission Valley, on another side looks toward SeaWorld and Mission Bay, and the third side overlooks Old Town, where San Diego was founded. Since the Serra Museum itself was closed I walked a few of the trails that encircle the Presidio.

In 1769, a Spanish-lead military expedition of about two hundred people arrived in this area of Alta California to establish a fort, or military colony (presidio), and a mission. The fort (the first of four) was meant to guard an area from Ensenada, Mexico, all the way up to where Malibu is today, just north of Los Angeles. I can’t imagine how they could have possibly known if an invading army landed or an Indian uprising occurred in such a large area. Regularly spaced lookout posts, I’d imagine. (I guess I can imagine it. Huh.)

Fr. Junípero Serra, a Franciscan monk, went on to build twenty-one missions along the El Camino Real, starting with the first one here at the Presidio. Five years later, in 1774, the mission was moved to its present location six miles east in Mission Valley (hence the name). The Presidio remained for over sixty years. Now the ruins are covered by rolling hills of grass and trees. In 1929, department store owner George Marston bought the land to save it from development, built the Serra Museum, and then donated the entire property to the city of San Diego. We are all lucky he did.

Here endeth the lesson.

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