San Diego, Calif.
San Diego is the second-largest city in California. It is located in the southwest part of the state, on San Diego Bay.
Portuguese navigator Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo claimed the bay for Spain in 1542. The site was named San Miguel by Cabrillo. On Nov. 12, 1602, Don Sebastian de Viscaíno came ashore with his party on the day of St. Didacus (San Diego in Spanish) and celebrated a mass in the saint's honor. By coincidence, Viscaíno's flagship was named San Diego. He renamed the place San Diego after the 15th-century saint.
In 1769, Franciscan father Junípero Serra established the first California mission there—San Diego del Alcala. In 1822, Mexico won control of the town after declaring its independence from Spain. In 1846, during the Mexican War, San Diego was seized by the U.S., and it was incorporated as a city in 1850, just after California joined the Union.
Today, San Diego's excellent natural harbor is a busy commercial port and a hub of U.S. naval operations (although the naval training center at San Diego has closed due to defense cutbacks). Other leading industries are electronics, aerospace and missiles, medical and scientific research, oceanography, and agriculture. Its magnificent climate and proximity to Mexico have made tourism a significant part of the city's economy.
A Nov. 2005 runoff election for mayor put former police chief Jerry Sanders in office, ending a tumultuous year in San Diego's city hall. Reelected in 2008, Mayor Sanders has focused much of his energy on facilitating his city's recovery from a pension fund scandal that shut it out of the municipal debt market.
See also Encyclopedia: San Diego.
Selected famous natives and residents: