Wednesday, January 2, 2013

The Colors of Old Town

Every visit to San Diego has included a walk around Old Town San Diego, which is considered the "birthplace" of California.

San Diego is the site of the first permanent Spanish settlement in California. A walk around the plaza and historic buildings connects us with the Spanish influence from the 18th century to the present day.

It was here in 1769 that Father Junipero Serra came to establish the very first mission in a chain of 21 missions that were to be the cornerstone of California’s colonization.
In the 1820’s, a small Mexican community of adobe buildings was formed and by 1835 had attained the status of El Pueblo de San Diego.

In 1846, the American flag was raised in the Old Town San Diego Plaza (oldtownsan

The Spanish influence was clearly present in the shops located around the historic plaza. The bright, bold colors of the artwork and creations were eye-catching and led to many stops on our walk.

In 1968, the State of California Department of Parks and Recreation established Old Town State Historic Park to preserve the rich heritage that characterized San Diego during the 1821 to 1872 period. The park includes a main plaza, exhibits, museums and living history demonstrations.

In 1849, Cave Johnson Couts, a lieutenant in the U.S. Army dragoons, arrived in San Diego, charged with providing protection for the Boundary Commission, which would shortly establish a U.S.-Mexican border from Texas to the Pacific Coast.
Couts began construction on the Colorado House (left), a two-story hotel, in 1850, amid controversy that he had obtained the property illegally.

Couts soon lost interest in the Colorado House and leased it in 1854. Over the next 12 years, the building was renovated and subdivided to provide office space for the San Diego Herald, a surgeon, jeweler, hairdresser and other businesses.

The building burned in the 1872 fire. Reconstructed in 1992, it now houses the Wells Fargo History Museum.

The reds and greens of Christmas trees and wreaths added new colors to the bright yellows, oranges, and blues of the shops' decorations and products.

The Historic San Diego House (below) is now a gourmet coffee and tea shop.

The Cosmopolitan Hotel began as the grand residence of Juan Lorenzo Bandini, one of San Diego’s pioneers who settled here in the 1800s. Its seven rooms, an entrance hall, an enclosed courtyard, a corral, and several sheds and barns served as the family residence until 1859.

Then in the fall of 1869, the grand opening of The Cosmopolitan Hotel took place. A second level had been added to the adobe structure. The hotel’s main attraction was its grand balcony that wrapped around the second story, where guests to San Diego enjoyed seeing the crowd and activities in the town square below.
In 1888, The Cosmopolitan was sold, and the building became a canning facility for an olive factory in 1900.

In 1928, Cave J. Couts Jr. took over the property and turned the broken-down building into a hotel and restaurant.

A short walk does not begin to cover all the sights in Old Town.

No comments: