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San Diego ( ), named after Saint Didacus (Spanish: Diego de Alcalá), is the second-largest city in Californiamarker and the ninth largest city in the United States, located along the Pacific Oceanmarker on the west coast of the United Statesmarker. The US Census Bureau estimates the city's population at 1,279,329 as of 2008. This coastal city is also the county seat of San Diego Countymarker as well as the economic center of the San Diego–CarlsbadmarkerSan Marcosmarker metropolitan area. It was rated the fifth best place to live in 2006 by Money Magazine. According to Forbes the city of San Diego ranks as the fifth wealthiest in the United States. San Diego's biggest industries are manufacturing, the military, and tourism.

San Diego's economy is largely composed of agriculture, biotechnology/biosciences, computer sciences, electronics manufacturing, defense-related manufacturing, financial and business services, ship-repair, ship-construction, software development, telecommunications, wireless research, and tourism. The presence of the University of California, San Diegomarker (UCSD) with the affiliated UCSD Medical Center promotes research in biotechnology.


The area of San Diego has been inhabited for more than 10,000 years by the Kumeyaay Indians. The first European to visit the region was Portuguese-born explorer Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo sailing under the Spanish Flag, who sailed his flagship San Salvador from Navidadmarker, New Spain. In 1541, Cabrillo claimed the bay for the Spanish Empire and named the site San Miguel. In November of 1602, Sebastián Vizcaíno was sent to map the California coast. Arriving on his flagship San Diego, Vizcaíno surveyed the harbor and what are now Mission Bay and Point Lomamarker and named the area for the Catholic Saint Didacus, a Spaniard more commonly known as San Diego. On November 12, 1602, the first Christian religious service of record in Alta Californiamarker was conducted by Fray Antonio de la Ascensión, a member of Vizcaíno's expedition, to celebrate the feast day of San Diego.

In 1769, Gaspar de Portolà established the Fort Presidio of San Diegomarker overlooking Old Townmarker. Around the same time, Mission San Diego de Alcalámarker was founded by Franciscan friars under Father Junípero Serra. By 1797, the mission boasted the largest native population in Alta California, with over 1,400 Neophytes living in and around the mission proper. It is the southern end in California of the historic mission trail El Camino Real. After Mexico won its independence from the Spanish Empire in 1821, Mission San Diego de Alcalá's fortunes declined in the 1830s after the decree of secularization was enacted, as was the case with all of the missions under the control of Mexicomarker. However, it remains an active Catholic church and is a National Historic Landmark.

In 1847 San Diego was a destination of the march of the Mormon Battalion, members of whom established a brickyard and built the city's first courthouse at the corner of San Diego Avenue and Mason Street in Old Townmarker.

The Battle of San Pasqual, a battle of the Mexican-American War, was fought in the San Pasqual Valley which is now part of the city of San Diego. With the end of that war and the great influx of Americans during the gold rush of 1848, California was admitted to the United Statesmarker in 1850. San Diego was designated the seat of the newly-established San Diego County and was incorporated as a city in 1850. The first city charter was adopted in 1889. The current city charter was adopted in 1931.

The original site of San Diego was at the foot of Presidio Hill, in the area which is now Old Town San Diego State Historic Parkmarker. The location was not ideal, being several miles away from navigable water. In the late 1860s Alonzo Horton promoted a move to "New Town", several miles south of the original settlement, in the area which became Downtown San Diego. People and businesses flocked to New Town because of its location on San Diego Baymarker convenient to shipping. New Town quickly eclipsed the original settlement, known to this day as Old Town, and became the economic and governmental heart of the city.

In the years before World War I, the Industrial Workers of the World labor union conducted a free speech fight in San Diego, arousing a brutal response.

San Diego hosted two World's Fairs, the Panama-California Exposition in 1915 and the California Pacific International Exposition in 1935. Many of the Spanish/Baroque-style buildings in the city's Balboa Parkmarker were built for these expositions, particularly the one in 1915. Intended to be temporary structures, most remained in continuous use until they progressively fell into disrepair. Most were eventually rebuilt using castings of the original facades to faithfully retain the architectural style.

Significant U.S. Naval presence began in 1901 with the establishment of the Navy Coaling Station in Point Lomamarker, and expanded greatly during the 1920s. After World War II, the military played an increasing role in the local economy, but post-Cold War cutbacks took a heavy toll on the local defense and aerospace industries. The resulting downturn led San Diego leaders to seek to diversify the city's economy, and San Diego has since become a major center of the emerging biotechnology industry. It is also home to telecommunications giant Qualcommmarker.

In October 2003, San Diego was the site of the Cedar Fire, which has been called the largest wildfire in California over the past century. The fire burned , killed 15 people, and destroyed more than 2,200 homes. In addition to damage caused by the fire, smoke from the fire resulted in a significant increase in emergency room visits due to asthma, respiratory problems, eye irritation, and smoke inhalation; the poor air quality caused San Diego County schools to close for a week. Four years later many additional wildfires, including the Witch Creek and Harris fires, damaged San Diego city and county during the severe Southern California fire season of 2007.


The city of San Diego lies on deep canyons and hills separating its mesas, creating small pockets of natural parkland scattered throughout the city and giving it a hilly geography. Traditionally San Diegans have built their homes and businesses on the mesas, while leaving the canyons relatively wild. Thus, the canyons give parts of the city a segmented feel, creating gaps between otherwise proximate neighborhoods and contributing to a low-density, car-centered built environment. The San Diego River runs through the middle of San Diego from east to west, creating a river valley which serves to divide the city into northern and southern segments. Several reservoirs and Mission Trails Regional Parkmarker also lie between and separate developed areas of the city.

Downtown San Diego is located on San Diego Baymarker. Balboa Park lies on a mesa to the northeast, surrounded by dense urban communities including Hillcrestmarker to the north. The Coronadomarker and Point Lomamarker peninsulas separate San Diego Bay from the ocean. Ocean Beachmarker is on the northwest side of Point Loma. Mission Beach and Pacific Beach lie between the ocean and Mission Bay, a man-made aquatic park. La Jollamarker lies north of Pacific Beach and west of Mira Mesa. The city contains more than 100 identified neighborhoods.

The Cuyamaca Mountainsmarker and Laguna Mountainsmarker rise to the east of the city, and beyond the mountains are desert areas. Cleveland National Forestmarker is a half-hour drive from downtown San Diego. Numerous farms are found in the valleys northeast and southeast of the city. San Diego County has one of the highest counts of animal and plant species that appear on the endangered species list among counties in the United States.


Under the Koppen climate classification system, the San Diego area straddles areas of Mediterranean climate (CSa) to the north and Semi-arid climate (BSh) to the south and east. As a result, its often described as "arid Mediterranean" and "Semi-arid Steppe". San Diego's climate is characterized by warm, dry summers and mild winters with most of the annual precipitation falling between November and March. The city has mild, mostly dry weather, with an average of 201 days above and low rainfall (9-13" annually). Summer temperatures are generally warm, with average highs of and lows of . Temperatures exceed only four days a year. Most rainfall occurs from November to April. Winter temperatures are mild, with average high temperatures of and lows of .

The climate in the San Diego area, like much of California, often varies significantly over short geographical distances resulting in microclimates. In San Diego's case this is mainly due to the city's topography (the Bay, and the numerous hills, mountains, and canyons). Frequently, particularly during the "May gray/June gloom" period, a thick "marine layer" cloud cover will keep the air cool and damp within a few miles of the coast, but will yield to bright cloudless sunshine approximately inland. This happens every year in May and June. Even in the absence of June gloom, inland areas tend to experience much more significant temperature variations than coastal areas, where the ocean serves as a moderating influence. Thus, for example, downtown San Diego averages January lows of 50°F and August highs of 78°F. The city of El Cajon, just 10 miles northeast of downtown San Diego, averages January lows of 42°F and August highs of 88°F.

Rainfall along the coast averages about of precipitation annually, which occurs mainly during the cooler months of December through April. Though there are few wet days per month during the rainy period, rainfall can be heavy when it does fall. However, the rainfall is greater in the higher elevations of San Diego. Some of the higher areas of San Diego can receive of rain a year.


Like most of southern California, the majority of San Diego's current area was originally occupied by chaparral, a plant community made up mostly of drought-resistant shrubs. The endangered Torrey Pine has the bulk of its population in San Diego in a stretch of protected chaparral along the coast. The steep and varied topography, and proximity to the ocean creates a number of different habitats within the city limits, including tidal marsh and canyons. The influence of humans has altered existing habitats and has also created habitats that did not exist prior to human development, by construction of buildings, the introduction of new species, and the use of water for lawns and gardens. A number of species of parrots, including the Red-masked Parakeet and Red-crowned Amazon have established feral populations in urban neighborhoods such as Ocean Beachmarker. The chaparral and coastal sage scrub habitats in low elevations along the coast are prone to wildfire, and the rates of fire have increased in the 20th century, due primarily to fires starting near the borders of urban and wild areas.

San Diego's broad city limits encompass a number of large nature preserves, including Torrey Pines State Reservemarker, Border Field State Parkmarker, Mission Trails Regional Parkmarker. Torrey Pines State Preserve and a coastal strip continuing to the north is the only location where the rare species of Torrey Pine, P. torreyana torreyana, is found. Due to a combination of the steep topography that prevents or discourages building, and some efforts for preservation, there are also a large number of canyons within the city limits that are nature preserves, including Tecolote Canyon Natural Park, and Marian Bear Memorial Park in the San Clemente Canyon, as well as a number of small parks and preserves.

Communities and neighborhoods

There are around one hundred named areas within the city of San Diego.

Old Town, San Diego.
Northern: Bay Ho, Bay Park, Encinitas, Carmel Valleymarker, Clairemont Mesa East, Clairemont Mesa West, Del Mar Mesa, La Jollamarker, La Jolla Village, Mission Beach, Mission Bay Park, North Park, North Clairemont, Pacific Beach, Pacific Highlands Ranch, Torrey Hills, Torrey Pines, University Citymarker

Northeastern: Black Mountain Ranchmarker, Carmel Mountain Ranch, Miramarmarker, Miramar Ranch North, Mira Mesa, Rancho Bernardo, Rancho Encantada, Rancho Peñasquitos, Sabre Springsmarker, San Pasqual Valley, Scripps Ranch, Sorrento Valley, Torrey Highlands

Eastern: Allied Gardens, Birdland, Del Cerro, Grantville, Kearny Mesa, Lake Murray, Mission Valley East, San Carlosmarker, Serra Mesa, Tierrasantamarker

Western: Burlingame, Hillcrestmarker, Linda Vista, Midtown, Midway, Mission Hills, Mission Valley West, Morena, North Park, Ocean Beachmarker, Old Townmarker, Pacific Beach, Point Lomamarker (including Fleetridge, La Playamarker, Loma Portal, Point Loma Heights, Point Loma Village, Roseville, Shelter Island, Sunset Cliffs, and the Wooded Area), University Heightsmarker

Central: Balboa Parkmarker, Bankers Hill, Barrio Logan, City Heights, Downtown (Columbia, Core, Cortez Hill, East Villagemarker, Gaslamp Quarter, Horton, Little Italy, Marina), Golden Hill, Grant Hill, Logan Heightsmarker, Memorial, Middletown, Sherman Heights, South Park, Stockton

Mid-City: City Heightsmarker (comprising Azalea Park, Bayridge, Hollywood Park, Castle, Cherokee Point, Chollas Creek, Colina Del Sol, Corridor, Fairmount, Fox Canyon, Islenair, Ridgeview/Webster Rolando, Swan Canyon, Teralta East, Teralta West), College East, College West, Darnallmarker, El Cerritomarker, Gatewaymarker, Kensingtonmarker, Normal Heightsmarker, North Park,Oak Park, Talmadgemarker, Alvarado Estates

Southeastern: Alta Vista, Bay Terrace, Broadway Heights, Chollas View, Emerald Hills, Encantomarker, Jamacha-Lomita, Lincoln Park, Mountain View, Mt. Hope, Paradise Hillsmarker, Shelltown, Skyline, Southcrest, Valencia Park

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

San Diego's Gaslamp Quarter

Downtown urban renewal

Downtown San Diego has experienced some urban renewal since the early 1980s. This has resulted in the opening of Horton Plaza, the revival of the Gaslamp Quarter, and the construction of the San Diego Convention Centermarker. PETCO Parkmarker opened in 2004. The North Embarcadero is slated to have parks in addition to a waterfront promenade. Balboa Parkmarker is scheduled to be linked to downtown.


As of the census of 2000, there were 1,223,400 people, 450,691 households, and 271,315 families residing in the city. The estimated city population in 2006 was 1,256,951 The population density was 3,771.9 people per square mile (1,456.4/km2).

There were 451,126 households out of which 30.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 44.6% were married couples living together, 11.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 39.8% were non-families. 28.0% of all households were made up of individuals and 7.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.61 and the average family size was 3.30.

The U.S. Census Bureau reports that in 2000, 24.0% of San Diego residents were under 18, and 10.5% were 65 and over. The median age is 32; two-thirds of the population is under 35. The San Diego County regional planning agency, SANDAG, provides tables and graphs breaking down the city population into 5-year age groups.


As of the 2005-2007 American Community Survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau, White Americans made up 65.3% of San Diego's population; of which 48.2% were non-Hispanic whites. Blacks or African Americans made up 6.9% of San Diego's population; of which 6.7% were non-Hispanic blacks. American Indian made up 0.6% of the city's population; of which 0.3% were non-Hispanic. Asian Americans made up 15.0% of the city's population; of which 14.8% were non-Hispanic. Pacific Islander Americans made up 0.4% of the city's population; of which 0.3% were non-Hispanic. Individuals from some other race made up 8.3% of the city's population; of which 0.3% were non-Hispanic. Individuals from two or more races made up 3.5% of the city's population; of which 2.4% were non-Hispanic. In addition, Hispanics and Latinos made up 27.0% of San Diego's population.

Other estimates

According to estimates by the San Diego Association of Governments, as of January 1, 2008, the population of San Diego rose to 1,336,865, up 9.3% from 2000. The population was 45.3% non-Hispanic whites, 27.7% Hispanics, 15.6% Asians/Pacific Islanders, 7.1% blacks, 0.4% American Indians, and 3.9% from other races. Median age of Hispanics was 27.5 years, compared to 35.1 years overall and 41.6 years among non-Hispanic whites; Hispanics were the largest group in all ages under 18, and non-Hispanic whites constituted 63.1% of population 55 and older.


Like most major cities, San Diego had a declining crime rate from 1990 to 2000. Crime slightly increased in the early 2000s. In 2004, San Diego had the sixth lowest crime rate of any U.S. city with over half a million residents. From 2002 to 2006, the crime rate overall dropped 0.8%, though not evenly by category. While violent crime decreased 12.4% during this period, property crime increased 1.1%. Total property crimes were lower than the national average in 2004.


The San Diego skyline at night

The three largest sectors of San Diego's economy are defense, manufacturing, and tourism, respectively. Several areas of San Diego (in particular La Jollamarker and surrounding Sorrento Valley areas) are home to offices and research facilities for numerous biotechnology companies. Major biotechnology companies like Neurocrine Biosciences and Nventa Biopharmaceuticals are headquartered in San Diego, while many biotech and pharmaceutical companies, such as BD Biosciences, Biogen Idec, Integrated DNA Technologies, Merck, Pfizer, Élan, Genzyme, Cytovance, Celgene and Vertex, have offices or research facilities in San Diego. There are also several non-profit biotech institutes, such as the Salk Institute for Biological Studiesmarker, the Scripps Research Institute and the Burnham Institute. The presence of University of California, San Diegomarker and other research institutions helped fuel biotechnology growth. In June 2004, San Diego was ranked the top biotech cluster in the U.S. by the Milken Institute.

San Diego is home to companies that develop wireless cellular technology. Qualcomm Incorporatedmarker was founded and is headquartered in San Diego; Qualcomm is the largest private-sector technology employer (excluding hospitals) in San Diego County. According to the San Diego Business Journal, the largest software company in San Diego is security software company Websense Inc.

The economy of San Diego is influenced by its port, which includes the only major submarine and shipbuilding yards on the West Coast, as well as the largest naval fleet in the world. The cruise ship industry, which is the second largest in California, generates an estimated $2 million annually from the purchase of food, fuel, supplies, and maintenance services. Due to San Diego's military influence, major national defense contractors, such as General Atomicsmarker and Science Applications International Corporation are headquartered in San Diego.

Tourism is also a major industry owing to the city's climate. Major tourist destinations include Balboa Parkmarker, the San Diego Zoomarker, Seaworldmarker, nearby Wild Animal Parkmarker and Legolandmarker, the city's beaches and golf tournaments like the Buick Invitational.

Personal income

In 2000, the median income for a household in the city was $45,733, and the median income for a family was $53,060. Males had a median income of $36,984 versus $31,076 for females. The per capita income for the city was $23,609. About 10.6% of families and 14.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 20.0% of those under age 18 and 7.6% of those age 65 or over. SANDAG estimates that, by 2008, the household median income rose to $66,715.


A F/A-18 Hornet flying over San Diego
Military bases in San Diego include U.S. Navy ports, Marine Corps bases, and Coast Guard stations. Marine Corps institutions in San Diego include Marine Corps Air Station Miramarmarker and Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diegomarker. The Navy has several institutions in the city, including Naval Base Point Loma, Naval Base San Diegomarker (also known as the 32nd Street Naval Station), Bob Wilson Naval Hospitalmarker, and the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center San Diego. Close by San Diego but within San Diego Countymarker is Naval Air Station North Islandmarker (which operates Naval Auxiliary Landing Facility San Clemente Island, Silver Strand Training Complex, and the Outlying Field Imperial Beachmarker). San Diego is also known as the "birthplace of naval aviation," although Pensacolamarker, Floridamarker makes a rival claim.

San Diego is the site of one of the largest naval fleets in the world, and San Diego has become the largest concentration of Naval facilities in the world due to base reductions at Norfolk, Virginiamarker and retrenchment of the Russian naval base in Vladivostokmarker. Two of the U.S. Navy's Nimitz class supercarriers, (the USS Nimitz and the USS Ronald Reagan), five amphibious assault ships, several Los Angeles-class "fast attack" submarines, the Hospital Ship USNS Mercy, carrier and submarine tenders, destroyers, cruisers, frigates, and many smaller ships are home-ported there. Four Navy vessels have been named USS San Diego in honor of the city.

Real estate

Prior to 2006, San Diego experienced a dramatic growth of real estate prices, to the extent that the situation was sometimes described as a "housing affordability crisis". Median house prices more than tripled between 1998 and 2007. According to the California Association of Realtors, in May 2007, a median house in San Diego cost $612,370. Growth of real estate prices has not been accompanied by comparable growth of household incomes: Housing Affordability Index (percentage of households that can afford to buy a median-priced house) fell below 20% in early 2000s. San Diego metropolitan area had the second worst median multiple (ratio of median house price to median household income) of all metropolitan areas in the United States. As a consequence, San Diego had experienced negative net migration since 2004, with significant numbers of people moving to Baja Californiamarker and Riverside countymarker, with many residents commuting daily from Tijuanamarker, Temeculamarker, and Murrietamarker, to their jobs in San Diego. Others are leaving the state altogether and moving to more affordable regions.

From 2005 to 2007, San Diego experienced more than a 15% decline in real estate prices, which continued to accelerate into 2008. The two-year drop already experienced is worse than the four-year period between June, 1992, and November, 1996, when the region experienced an 11.8% decline in housing prices. Much of the decrease is blamed on the speculative attitude of investors in the early 2000s, who bought much of the available real estate, hoping to "flip" it for a large profit shortly thereafter, and the availability of "stated income" and other "exotic" loans available. When the decline hit, and adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs) adjusted, many investors simply abandoned their properties, and areas that recently experienced double-digit annual increases in property value, such as San Diego, Los Angelesmarker, Miamimarker, and Las Vegasmarker were hit the hardest. In the first quarter of 2008, the number of foreclosures repossessed by banks exceeded the number of home sales.

Film Commission

The San Diego Film Commission was formed in 1976 (named the San Diego Motion Picture and Television Bureau) to coordinate and facilitate the permission process and serve as a liaison with local government, the community, and the production industry.

By the early 1980s, the Bureau’s efforts resulted in various San Diego-based films. These included Simon & Simon and Top Gun, created jobs for San Diegans and more than $5 million in economic impact. The Bureau was later known as the San Diego Film Commission. During the 1990’s, there were films such as Silk Stalkings, Traffic, and Antwone Fisher. In November 1997, the Film Commission moved from under the auspice of the Chamber of Commerce to become an independent, non-profit corporation solely dedicated to the development of the production industry in San Diego. The Film Commission continues to be supported and funded as an economic development program by the City, County, and the Port of San Diego.

Post office

The United States Postal Service operates post offices in San Diego. The San Diego Main Post Office represents zip code 92128. It is located in the Carmel Mountain neighborhood of San Diego. Built in 1992, it replaced an aging and undersized post office on Midway Drive. It is approximately , which made it one of the largest inland post offices in the United States not affiliated with an airport in any way. Other portions of the City of San Diego are served by those of the remaining 921XX zip codes which are in use, and certain portions of the city closely identify with their zip codes. The 919XX and 920XX series zip codes are used in the suburban cities and unincorporated areas in the remainder of San Diego County.


Primary and secondary schools

The San Diego Unified School District, also known as San Diego City Schools, is the school district that serves the majority of the city, it includes 113 elementary schools, 23 middle schools, 4 atypical schools, 10 alternative schools, 27 high schools, and 25 charter schools. In the northern part of the county, Poway Unified School District and San Dieguito Union High School District are districts outside city limits, but serve several schools within city limits. In the southern part of the county, Sweetwater Union High School District serves multiple schools within city limits, although it is headquartered outside city limits.

Colleges and universities

According to education rankings released by the U.S. Census Bureau, 40.4 percent of San Diegans ages 25 and older hold bachelor's degrees. The census ranks the city as the ninth most educated city in the United States based on these figures.

Public colleges and universities in the city include San Diego State Universitymarker (SDSU), University of California, San Diegomarker (UCSD), and the San Diego Community College District, which includes San Diego City College, San Diego Mesa Collegemarker, and San Diego Miramar College. Private colleges and universities in the city include University of San Diego (USD), Point Loma Nazarene Universitymarker (PLNU), Alliant International University (AIU), National University, San Diego Christian College, John Paul the Great Catholic Universitymarker, Coleman University, University of Redlandsmarker School of Business, Design Institute of San Diego (DISD), Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising's San Diego campus, NewSchool of Architecture and Design, Pacific Oaks College San Diego Campus, The Art Institute of California, San Diego, Southern States University (SSU), and Woodbury Universitymarker School of Architecture's satellite campus.

There is one medical school in the city, the UCSD School of Medicine. There are three ABA accredited law schools in the city, which include California Western School of Law, Thomas Jefferson School of Law, and University of San Diego School of Law. There is also one unaccredited law school, Western Sierra Law School.


The city has multiple public libraries, including the main San Diego Public Library. The municipal library is headquartered downtown, and has 35 branches throughout the city. The libraries have had reduced operating hours since 2003 due to the city's lack of finances. In 2006 the city increased spending on libraries by $2.1 million. In addition, SDSU features the Malcolm A. Love Library, and at UCSD, the Geisel Library.


See also: List of museums in San Diego

Many popular museums, such as the San Diego Museum of Artmarker, the San Diego Natural History Museum, the San Diego Museum of Manmarker, and the Museum of Photographic Arts are located in Balboa Parkmarker. The Museum of Contemporary Art San Diegomarker (MCASD) is located in an ocean front building in La Jollamarker and has a branch located at the Santa Fe Depotmarker downtown. The Columbia district downtown is home to historic ship exhibits belonging to the San Diego Maritime Museummarker, headlined by the Star of India, as well as the unrelated San Diego Aircraft Carrier Museummarker featuring the USS Midwaymarker aircraft carrier.

"Californiascope", San Diego Harbor.

San Diego has a growing art scene. "Kettner Nights" at the Art and Design District in Little Italy has art and design exhibitions throughout many retail design stores and galleries on selected Friday nights. "Ray at Night" at North Park host a variety of small scale art galleries on the second Saturday evening of each month. La Jollamarker and nearby Solana Beachmarker also have a variety of art galleries.

The San Diego Symphony at Symphony Towers performs on a regular basis and is directed by Jahja Ling. The San Diego Opera at Civic Center Plaza, directed by Ian Campbell, was ranked by Opera America as one of the top 10 opera companies in the United States. Old Globe Theatremarker at Balboa Park produces about 15 plays and musicals annually. The La Jolla Playhousemarker at UCSDmarker is directed by Christopher Ashley. Both the Old Globe Theatre and the La Jolla Playhouse have produced the world premieres of plays and musicals that have gone on to win Tony Awards or nominations on Broadwaymarker. The Joan B. Kroc Theatre at Kroc Center's Performing Arts Center is a 600-seat state-of-the-art theatre that hosts music, dance and theatre performances. The San Diego Repertory Theatre at the Lyceum Theatres in Horton Plaza produces a variety of plays and musicals. Other professional theatrical production companies include the Lyric Opera San Diego and the Starlight Theatre.

Tourism has affected the city's culture, as San Diego houses many tourist attractions, such as SeaWorld San Diegomarker, Belmont amusement park, San Diego Zoomarker, and the nearby San Diego Wild Animal Parkmarker and Legoland Californiamarker. San Diego's Spanish influence can be seen in the many historic sites across the city, such as the Spanish missions and Balboa Parkmarker. Cuisine in San Diego is diverse, and includes European-American, Mexican-American, and Asian-American cuisine. Annual events in San Diego include Comic-Con, San Diego/Del Mar Fair, and Street Scene Music Festival.

Hundreds of movies and a dozen TV shows have been filmed in San Diego, a tradition going back as far as 1898.

San Diego board culture

San Diego is a venue for surf and skateboard culture.


San Diego has several sports venues. The National Football League's San Diego Chargers plays in Qualcomm Stadiummarker, also home to the NCAA Division I San Diego State Aztecsmarker, as well as local high school football championships. International soccer games and Supercross events take place at Qualcomm where Major League Baseball was once played. Three NFL Super Bowl championships have been held there. Two of college football's annual bowl games are held there: the Holiday Bowl which features a Pac-10 team against a Big-12 team and the Poinsettia Bowl. Balboa Stadiummarker was the city's first stadium, constructed in 1914, where the San Diego Chargers once played. Currently soccer, American football, and track and field are played in Balboa Stadium.

Major League Baseball's San Diego Padres play in Petco Parkmarker. The semi-final and final games of the inaugural World Baseball Classic were played there in 2006, and an earlier round of the second WBC was held there in 2009. Some soccer and rugby events occasionally take place in the ballpark. The USA Sevens is played in the city. This is an event in the annual IRB Sevens World Series for international teams in rugby sevens, a variant of rugby union with seven players per side instead of 15. The USA Sevens moved from the Los Angeles area to San Diego in 2007.

Basketball is played in the San Diego Sports Arenamarker, where ice hockey, indoor soccer and boxing have taken place. NCAA Division I San Diego State Aztecsmarker men's and women's basketball games are played at Cox Arenamarker at Aztec Bowl on the campus of San Diego State Universitymarker. College football and soccer, basketball and volleyball are played at the Torero Stadiummarker and the Jenny Craig Pavilionmarker at USD.

The San Diego State Aztecsmarker (MWC) and the San Diego Toreros (WCC) are NCAA Division I teams. The UCSD Tritons (CCAA) are members of NCAA Division II while the Point Loma Nazarene Sea Lionsmarker and San Diego Christian College (GSAC) are members of the NAIA.

The city has had two NBA franchises, the San Diego Rockets and the Buffalo Braves. The Rockets represented the city of San Diego from 1967 until 1971. After the conclusion of the 1970–1971 season, they moved to Texas where they became the Houston Rockets. Seven years later, a relocated NBA franchise (the Buffalo Braves) moved to town and was renamed the San Diego Clippers. The Clippers played in the San Diego Sports Arena from 1978 until 1984. Prior to the start of the 1984–1985 season, the team was moved to Los Angeles, and is now called the Los Angeles Clippers.

Other sports franchises that represented San Diego include the San Diego Conquistadors of the American Basketball Association, the San Diego Sockers (which played in various indoor and outdoor soccer leagues during their existence), the San Diego Flash and the San Diego Gauchos, both playing in different divisions of the United Soccer League, the San Diego Spirit of the Women's United Soccer Association, the San Diego Mariners of the World Hockey Association, and three different San Diego Gulls ice hockey teams. The San Diego Riptide and the San Diego Shockwave were indoor football teams that played at the Sports Arenamarker and Cox Arenamarker, respectively. San Diego has been a candidate for a Major League Soccer franchise, especially due to the city recording FIFA World Cup television audiences which are double the national average. The city has pursued a franchise. Some observers believe that the city may get one of three franchises to be offered before 2010. The city had an active men's team playing in the fourth level of American soccer, the San Diego Pumitas.

San Diego has the largest championship drought in the nation with at least two major-league sports franchises; dating back to 1963 (45 Years as of 2008), as well as being the largest United States city to have not won a Super Bowl, World Series, Stanley Cup, NBA Finals or any other Major League sports championship.

The city-owned golf course at Torrey Pinesmarker hosts the annual Buick Invitational tournament on the PGA Tour. Torrey Pines was also the site of the 2008 U.S. Open Golf Championship.

San Diego is also home to several premier amateur sports events, such as the San Diego Crew Classic, held in Mission Bay every spring and featuring 100 or more college and amateur crews. The amateur beach sport Over-the-line was invented in San Diego, and the annual world Over-the-line championships are held at Mission Bay every year. The San Diego Yacht Clubmarker hosted the America's Cup yacht races three times during the period 1988 to 1995.

The city hosts several well-known road races including the original Rock 'n' Roll Marathon in June, the America’s Finest City Half Marathon in August, the La Jolla Half Marathon in April, and several triathlons.

Club Sport League Stadium
San Diego Padres Baseball MLB (National League) Petco Parkmarker
San Diego Chargers American Football AFL 1961–1969, NFL 1970–present Qualcomm Stadiummarker
O.M.B.A.C. RFC Rugby union Rugby Super League Little Q Rugby Pitch at Qualcommmarker
San Diego WFC SeaLions Soccer Women's Premier Soccer League Cathedral Catholic High Schoolmarker
San Diego Wildcats Basketball American Basketball Association Kroc Center


The following are published within the city: the daily newspaper, The San Diego Union-Tribune and its online portal,, and the alternative newsweeklies, the San Diego CityBeat and San Diego Reader. Another newspaper is the North County Times, which is distributed in San Diego's North County area.

San Diego's first television station was KFMBmarker, which began broadcasting on May 16, 1949. Since the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) licensed seven television stations in Los Angeles, two VHF channels were available for San Diego because of its relative proximity to the larger city. In 1952, however, the FCC began licensing UHF channels, making it possible for cities such as San Diego to acquire more stations. Stations based in Mexico (with ITU prefixes of XE and XH) also serve the San Diego market. Television stations today include XHTJB 3 (ONCE TV), XETVmarker 6 (CW), KFMBmarker 8 (CBS), KGTVmarker 10 (ABC), XEWTmarker 12 (Televisa), KPBSmarker 15 (PBS), KBNTmarker 17 (Univision), XHASmarker 33 (Telemundo), K35DG 35 (UCSD-TV), KNSDmarker 39 (NBC), XHDTV 49 (MNTV), KUSImarker 51 (Independent), and KSWB-TVmarker 69 (Fox). San Diego has a 93.5% cable penetration rate, one of the highest in the country. As such, most of the city's stations air on their own cable channel number for each area:

  • Channel 6: Cable 6
  • Channel 8: Cable 8
  • Channel 10: Cable 10
  • Channel 12: Cable 12 (Cox Cable Only)
  • Channel 15: Cable 11
  • Channel 21:
  • Channel 27:
  • Channel 33: Cable 22 (Cox Cable Only)
  • Channel 39: Cable 7
  • Channel 45:
  • Channel 49: Cable 13
  • Channel 51: Cable 9
  • Channel 57:
  • Channel 69: Cable 5

The radio stations in San Diego include nationwide broadcaster, Clear Channel Communications; CBS Radio, Midwest Television, Lincoln Financial Media, Finest City Broadcasting, and many other smaller stations and networks. Stations include: 91X (91.1FM),KOGO AM 600, KFMB AM 760marker, KCEO AM 1000, KCBQ AM 1170marker, KLSD AM 1360 Air America, KFSD 1450 AM, KPBS-FM 89.5, Channel 933marker, Star 94.1, FM 94/9, KyXy 96.5, Free Radio San Diego (AKA Pirate Radio San Diego) 96.9FM FRSD, KSONmarker 97.3/92.1, KIFM 98.1, Jack-FM 100.7, 101.5 KGB-FM, KPRI 102.1, Rock 105.3marker, and another Pirate Radio station at 106.9FM, as well as a number of local Spanish language radio stations.


The mayor, city council members, and city attorney seats are all officially non-partisan by state law. There are 8 members of the city council, each elected from single member districts. The mayor and city attorney are elected directly by the voters of the entire city. The mayor, city attorney, and councilmembers are elected to four-year terms, with a two-term limit.

In 2006 the city's form of government changed from a "City manager system" to a "strong mayor system". The change was brought about by a citywide vote in 2004. The mayor is in effect the chief executive officer of the city, while the council is the legislative body.


In August 2007, registered Democrats outnumbered Republicans by about 7 to 6. Despite the edge in voter registration for Democrats, the current mayor, Jerry Sanders, is a Republican. San Diego is the largest city in the country with a Republican mayor. San Diego has not elected a Democratic mayor since 1988. Democrats hold a 6-2 majority in the City Council, including the current Council president, Ben Hueso. As noted above, city elections are officially nonpartisan.


On September 18, 2007, the City Council with support from Mayor Sanders, voted 5-3 to endorse a pending lawsuit before the California Supreme Courtmarker to overturn Proposition 22, which banned same-sex marriage in California. Proposition 22 was supported by 62 percent of San Diego voters. Proposition 22 was later ruled unconstitutional by the California supreme court. In 2008 California voters passed Proposition 8 to change the California constitution to match the wording of Proposition 22 defining marriage as only being valid or recognized between a man and a woman. Approval for Prop 8 received 53.7% of the votes in San Diego County. Disapproval for Prop 8 received 54% of the votes in the city of San Diego itself. In a surprise move, the conservative Republican Mayor Jerry Sanders publicly reversed his stance declaring support for same sex marriage in July 2008. In a tearful speech, the Mayor vowed he would support his gay daughter Lisa Sanders in her fight against Proposition 8, and that he "he just couldn't tell her she did not have the right to get married", mere hours before he was expected to veto a City Council motion supporting same sex marriage. This is most notable as it signified one of the most prominent conservative public figures to oppose Proposition 8.

A series of financial scandals has rocked the city in recent years. A scheme to underfund pensions for city employees, the San Diego pension scandal, led to the resignation of newly elected Mayor Dick Murphy and to the filing of criminal charges against six pension board members. In an unrelated scandal, two city council members, Ralph Inzunza and deputy mayor Michael Zucchet—who was to take Murphy's place—were convicted of extortion, wire fraud, and conspiracy to commit wire fraud for taking campaign contributions from a strip club owner and his associates, allegedly in exchange for trying to repeal the city's "no touch" laws at strip clubs. Both subsequently resigned. The judge later set aside (overturned) the conviction in Zucchet's case

State and federal

In the state legislature San Diego is located in the 36th, 38th, 39th, and 40th Senate District, represented by Republicans Dennis Hollingsworth and Mark Wyland, and Democrats Christine Kehoe and Denise Moreno Ducheny, and in the 74th, 75th, 76th, 77th, 78th, and 79th Assembly District, represented by Republicans Martin Garrick and George A. Plescia, Democrat Lori Saldaña, Republicans Joel Anderson and Shirley Horton and Democrat Mary Salas. Federally, San Diego is located in California's 49th, 50th, 51st, 52nd, and 53rd congressional districts, which have Cook PVIs of R +10, R +5, D +7, R +9, and D +12 respectively and are represented by Republicans Darrell Issa and Brian Bilbray, Democrat Bob Filner, Republican Duncan D. Hunter, and Democrat Susan Davis.

On November 28, 2005, U.S. Congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham resigned over a bribery scandal. Cunningham represented California's 50th congressional district, which mostly lies north of the city of San Diego proper. He is currently serving a 100-month prison sentence.


Freeways and highways

I-5 looking South towards downtown San Diego.
With the automobile being the primary means of transportation for over 80% of its residents, San Diego is served by an extensive network of freeways and highways. This includes Interstate 5, which runs south to Tijuanamarker and runs north to the Canadian border through Orange Countymarker, Los Angelesmarker, Sacramentomarker, Portlandmarker, and Seattlemarker; I-8, which runs east to Imperial County and Arizona; I-15, which runs north to the Canadian border through Riverside Countymarker and Salt Lake Citymarker; and I-805, which splits from I-5 at Sorrento Valley and rejoins I-5 near the Mexican border. Notable state highways are SR 94, which connects downtown with I-805, I-15 and east county; SR 163, which connects downtown with the northeast part of the city, intersects I-805 and merges with I-15 at Miramarmarker; SR 52, which connects La Jollamarker with east county through Santeemarker and SR 125; SR 56, which connects I-5 with I-15 through Carmel Valleymarker and Rancho Peñasquitos; and SR 75 (San Diego-Coronado Bridgemarker), which spans San Diego Baymarker.

Several regional transportation projects have been undertaken in recent years to deal with congestion on San Diego freeways. This includes expansion of Interstates 5 and 805 around "The Merge," a rush-hour spot where the two freeways meet. Also, an expansion of Interstate 15 through the North County is underway with the addition of high-occupancy-vehicle (HOV) "managed lanes". There is a tollway (The South Bay Expressway) connecting SR 54 and Otay Mesa, near the Mexican border. According to a 2007 assessment, 37% of streets in San Diego were in acceptable driving condition. The proposed budget fell $84.6 million short of bringing the city's streets to an acceptable level.

Major highways

Public transportation

San Diego is served by the trolley, bus, Coaster, and Amtrak. The trolley ( system map) primarily serves downtown and surrounding urban communities, Mission Valley, east county, and coastal south bay. A planned Mid-Coast line will operate from Old Townmarker to University Citymarker along the 5 Freeway. There are also plans for a Silver Line to expand trolley service downtown.

The Amtrak and Coaster trains currently run along the coastline and connect San Diego with Los Angeles,Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, and Ventura via Metrolink. There are two Amtrak stations in San Diego, in Old Townmarker, and Downtownmarker (downtown).

The bus is available along almost all major routes; however, a large number of bus stops are concentrated in central San Diego. Typical wait times vary from 15 to 30 minutes, depending on the location and route. Trolleys arrive at each station every 7 to 30 minutes (depending on time of day and which trolley line is used). Ferries are also available every half hour crossing San Diego Bay to Coronadomarker.


San Diego's roadway system provides an extensive network of routes for travel by bicycle. The dry and mild climate of San Diego makes cycling a convenient and pleasant year-round option. At the same time, the city's hilly, canyoned terrain and significantly long average trip distances—brought about by strict low-density zoning laws—somewhat restrict cycling for utilitarian purposes. Older and denser neighborhoods around the downtown tend to be friendlier to utility cycling. This is partly because of the grid street patterns now absent in newer developments farther from the urban core, where suburban style arterial roads are much more common. As a result, a vast majority of cycling-related activities are recreational. The city has some segregated cycle facilities, particularly in newer developments although the majority of road facilities specifically for bicycles are painted on regular roadways. In 2006, San Diego was rated as the best city for cycling for U.S. cities with a population over 1 million.


San Diego International Airportmarker, also known as Lindbergh International Airport or Lindbergh Field, is the primary commercial airport serving San Diego. It is the busiest single-runway airport in the United States, serving over 18 million passengers every year, and is located on San Diego Bay three miles (4.8 km) from downtown. There are scheduled flights to the rest of the United States, Mexico, Hawaii, and Canada. It serves as a focus city for Southwest Airlinesmarker. Other airports include Brown Field Municipal Airportmarker (Brown Field) and Montgomery Fieldmarker. Aeroméxico provides a shuttle service from San Diego to General Abelardo L.marker Rodríguez International Airportmarker in Tijuanamarker, Baja Californiamarker, Mexicomarker.

There has been debate regarding the placement of a new international airport, as operations at Lindbergh Field are limited due to the physical size of the property. While the San Diego Airport Authority has endorsed the current site of the Miramar Marine Corps Air Stationmarker, the military said it has no intention of relinquishing that site. A vote on the issue took place on November 7, 2006 against Proposition A, in which voters rejected the proposal to move the airport to Miramar. The military has rejected the proposals for a dual-use airport because the area around Miramar has already been set aside as safety corridors for military aircraft accidents. A shared commercial/military airport would force military aircraft to fly outside of those safety corridors. The Airport Authority, following Proposition A, is investigating other sites; however, due to the proximity of the Pacific Ocean and Mexican border, as well as the rough terrain, there are few (if any) possible alternatives.


Sailboats in the San Diego Harbor.
Visible is the San Diego skyline.
The Port of San Diego manages the maritime operations of San Diego harbor. Cruise ships arrive and depart from San Diego's cruise ship terminal on B Street Pier. Carnival Cruise Lines, Royal Caribbean, Holland America, and Celebrity Cruises have home port cruise ships in San Diego during the winter season. A new cruise terminal on Broadway Pier is set to open in 2010.

San Diego is home to General Dynamics' National Steel and Shipbuilding Companymarker (NASSCO), the largest shipyard on the West Coast of the United States. It is capable of building and repairing large ocean-going vessels. The yard constructs commercial cargo ships and auxiliary vessels for the U.S. Navy and Military Sealift Command, which it has served since 1960.

Sister cities

View of Coronado and San Diego from the air
San Diego has fifteen sister cities, as designated by Sister Cities International:

See also


  2. San Diego Historical Society
  3. Journal of San Diego History, October 1967
  5. Mission San Diego
  6. "Mormon Battalion Brickyard," from California Bricks
  7. City of San Diego website
  8. Engstrand, Iris Wilson, California’s Cornerstone, Sunbelt Publications, Inc., 2005, p. 80
  9. Journal of San Diego History, Winter 1973
  10. San Diego Union Tribune, May 1, 2005
  11. University of San Diego: Military Bases in San Diego
  12. Milken Institute
  13. Hoovers Business Directory
  14. CalFire website
  15. San Diego Union Tribune, October 22, 2007
  16. City of San Diego
  17. UCSD
  18. Port of San Diego North Embarcadero Visionary Plan
  19. Los Angeles times
  20. U.S. Census Bureau Quick Facts, city of San Diego
  21. Census Quick Facts, City of San Diego
  22. City of San Diego Economic Development Department
  23. SANDAG document
  24. U.S. Census Bureau's Fact Sheet on San Diego
  25. ACS Demographics
  26. The Free Library
  27. " Post Office Location - MIDWAY DU." United States Postal Service. Retrieved on May 5, 2009.
  28. " Postal Service extends acceptance of mail for April 15 tax filing deadline postmark at select locations." United States Postal Service. April 6, 2009. Retrieved on May 5, 2009.
  29. La Jolla Playhouse
  30. Old Globe Theater
  31. SoCal San Diego
  32. Journal of San Diego History, vol. 48, no. 2
  33. America’s Finest City Half Marathon website
  34. La Jolla Half Marathon website
  35. Triathalon website
  37. San Diego City website
  38. San Diego City website
  39. California Proposition 8 Results by County
  40. San Diego County Proposition 8 Results by Community
  41. [1]
  42. Business Week, June 13, 2005
  43. San Diego City Beat, June 15, 2005
  44. [ Appeals Court opinion, Sept. 1, 2009]

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