City and US naval air station, on the Pacific Ocean, and on the border of Mexico, in California, USA; population (2000 est) 1,223,400. San Diego is linked to Tijuana, Mexico, by a 26-km/16-mi transit line (1981) popular with tourists. It is an important fishing port. Manufacturing includes aerospace and electronic equipment, metal fabrication, printing and publishing, seafood-canning, and shipbuilding. San Diego is the oldest Spanish settlement in California; a Spanish mission and fort were established here in 1769.
Features The city's Mexican and Spanish heritage is preserved in the Old Town San Diego State History Park, with the Casa de Machado y Stewart (an 1833 adobe), La Casa de Bandini (a hacienda), and La Casa de Estudillo (an 1829 adobe). San Diego de Alcala Mission, the first mission, has been restored. The Gaslamp Quarter is a restored Victorian area. The San Pasqual Battlefield State Historic Park commemorates the Mexican War.
San Diego Zoo (1916), San Diego Wild Animal Park, and Sea World (1964), which includes the Rocky Point Preserve (now home of the Alaskan sea otters rescued after the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill), are here.
In La Jolla, a suburb of San Diego, there are a number of important institutions, including the Salk Institute for Biological Studies (1962), designed by Louis Kahn; the Scripps Institute of Oceanography, the largest in the USA; and the University of California at San Diego. It is also the site of the Mission San Luis Rey (1798).
History The city's deep-water harbour was discovered in 1542 by the Portuguese explorer Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo who was leading a Spanish expedition. San Diego was the site of the first of the Californian missions, founded by Spanish Franciscan friar Junipero Serra in 1769. During the Mexican War of 1846, the fort was occupied by US troops. San Diego's ‘new town’, on a site adjacent to the original mission, was developed from the 1860s. The city grew rapidly after the arrival of the Santa Fe Railroad in 1884, and in the early 20th century it was a favoured residential city, especially for the elderly. It became an aviation centre, and the Consolidated Aircraft Company moved here in the late 1930s. Charles Lindbergh's plane Spirit of St Louis was built here, and he took off on his flight around the world from the North Island Naval Air Station. The establishment of military bases during World War II boosted the economy. San Diego is now home to the US Navy's largest operational complex.
Museums, galleries and education In Balboa Park there are several museums, including the San Diego Museum of Art (1926), with fine collections of contemporary Californian and Asian art, the Museum of Man in the California Building, and the Hall of Champions Sports Museum. The Timken Museum of Art (1965) concentrates on US paintings. The San Diego Museum of Contemporary Art (1916) is in the home of local philanthropist Ellen Browning Scripps. The San Diego Aerospace Museum and the International Aerospace Hall of Fame reflect the city's importance as an aerospace centre. Educational institutions include the San Diego State University (1897) and the University of San Diego (1949).
Tourism There are hotels and resorts on the Coronado peninsula, including the Hotel Del Coronada (1887), which is said to have been the inspiration for the Emerald City in the Wizard of Oz (author Frank L Baum was a local resident).