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San Diego City

San Diego City Hall is located at 202 C Street, San Diego, CA 92101; phone: 619-533-6387.

Frank Kimball Brick Row, 1888

Photo: This "brick row" was built by Frank Kimball (ca. 1887-1888) for officials of the Southern California Railroad. Historic American Buildings Survey [HABS CA-1969], Walter Smalling Jr., photographer, 1980.

Beginnings [1]

Prehistoric Period (8500 BC to AD 1769)

  • Native American people lived throughout San Diego continuously
  • Subsistence changed from more nomadic hunting to a focus on coastal marine and inland food sources with native plant gathering to a semi-sedentary lifestyle with limited horticulture
  • Significant time markers include changes in stone tools, mortuary practices, and the introduction of pottery
  • Spanish exploration begins

Spanish Period (1769 to 1821)

  • Arrival of Spanish missionaries and explorers
  • Presidio and Mission San Diego de Alcala established
  • Spanish occupation and mission system profoundly changed lives of the Kumeyaay people
  • Early house lots and garden plots in what would become Old Town

Mexican Period (1821 to 1846)

  • Mexico wins independence from Spain and San Diego becomes part of the Mexican Republic
  • Rancho system of extensive land grants to individuals
  • Secularization of the San Diego Mission
  • Mexico granted San Diego official pueblo (town) status
  • Native American population continued to decline

American Development (1846-Present)

  • Americans assumed formal control under the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo in 1848
  • William Heath Davis founded the earliest American development of "New Town" in 1850
  • Alonzo Horton arrived in 1867 and helped San Diego develop into an active American town
  • Expansion of trade brought an increase in the availability of building material
  • Active African-American and Chinese communities lived and worked downtown
  • Urban growth spurred by industrial capitalism and land speculation and early private infrastructure investment
  • Chinese, German, Swiss, Italian, Portuguese, and other immigrants owned businesses and worked throughout San Diego, as do their descendants today

  1. City of San Diego General Plan,Historic Preservation Element, March, 2008,, accessed October, 2011.
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