Timeline of San Diego History: 1930-1959

City of San Diego population is 147,995. San Diego County population is 209,659.

January 5, 1931
Lemon Grove Grammar School principal Jerome Green, acting under instructions from school trustees, turns away Mexican children at the schoolhouse door. The landmark lawsuit resulting from the “Lemon Grove Incident” becomes the first successful school desegregation court decision in the history of the United States.

February, 1931
San Diego’s State Teachers’ College moves into the seven mission-style buildings of the present SDSU campus. In 1935, the Legislature removes the word “Teachers” from the name of the institution and, in 1960, the College becomes part of the newly created California State College system. It is renamed San Diego State University in 1971.

Reuben H. Fleet moves Consolidated Aircraft (which becomes Convair) from Buffalo, New York. Fleet had organized the first U.S. Air Mail Service in 1918.

The Natural History Museum opens in Balboa Park, designed by William Templeton Johnson.

Consolidated Aircraft opens first plant along Pacific Highway to build 50 P-30 pursuit planes for Army. First PBY-1 is launched on test flight on San Diego bay in 1936 – Consair employment rises from 900 in 1935 to 3700.

May 28, 1935
California-Pacific International Exposition opens in Balboa Park. Chief architect Richard Requa has put Palisades buildings up in just a few months and completely remodeled the House of Hospitality.

The Old Globe Theatre opens in Balboa Park (note the open air center).

Bill Lane brings his Hollywood Stars baseball team to play in San Diego as the Pacific Coast League Padres. Lane field, at the corner of Broadway and Harbor Drive, is the home of the Padres from 1936-1957. Hoover High School’s Ted Williams plays ball with the Pacific Coast League Padres at Lane Field in 1936-37 before going on to win six American League batting titles for the Boston Red Sox.

Construction of the Del Mar Fairgrounds begins as a Work Progress Authority project.

June 24, 1937
Richard Archbold makes first transcontinental flight from San Diego to New York City in a seaplane built by Consair. The following year the Archbold expedition sets off from San Diego on a global survey of potential oceanic and continental air routes (pilots Steve Barinka, Russell Rogers). It arrives back in San Diego on July 6, 1939 as the first around-the-world seaplane flight at the equator.

San Diego Civic Center (now the County Administration Center) opens, designed by architect Samuel Wood Hamill. Sculptor Donal Hord’s monumental stone statue “Guardian of Water” still stands on the Harbor Drive side of the building.

March 12, 1938
Hitler occupies Austria.

Sept 1, 1939
Germany invades Poland and war breaks out in Europe.

Naval Air Station, Miramar develops on the site of Camp Kearny. In 1939 the Navy took ownership of 423 acres of Camp Kearny and the field was commissioned Naval Auxiliary Air Station, Camp Kearny Feb. 20, 1943. By the end of the war, the base covered 1101 acres and all facilities were combined and commissioned as the Marine Corps Air Station, Miramar May 1, 1946. Expansion begins in 1951 to develop the base for jet aircraft and it is commissioned as United States Naval Air Station, Miramar on April 1, 1952. It becomes the Fighter Command for the Pacific Fleet in 1973, adding the “Top Gun” Flight School, and becomes the Airborne Early Warning Wing Command. In 1998, the Naval Air Station closes and it again becomes a Marine Corps Air Station. [courtesy of Prof. Steve Schoenherr]

City of San Diego population is 203,341. San Diego County population is 289,348.

December 7, 1941
Japanese planes bomb Pearl Harbor.

Robert Oscar Peterson opens his first drive-in restaurant called Oscar’s. (He later founds Jack In The Box in 1951.)

Construction begins on Linda Vista defense housing project. The biggest construction job in SD’s history – McNeil and Zoss contract to build 3000 units in 300 days for $9,070,000.

San Diego Naval Air Station begins training pilots for U.S. Air Force (a total of 31,400 during World War II).

Navy acquires Rancho Santa Margarita for Camp Pendleton Marine base on 126,000 acres north of Oceanside.

Consolidated Aircraft merges with Vultee to become Convair.

October 3, 1943
Hauser Creek fire in the Cleveland National Forest, leaves at least 9 firefighters dead (including 7 marines), 72 injuries and 10,000 acres burned.

Navy begins emergency construction of aqueduct to bring Colorado River water to San Diego. San Diego County Water Authority is formed.

June 6, 1944
Allied invasion of Nazi-occupied western Europe begins in Normandy, France.

Senate ratifies a treaty giving a portion of Colorado River water to Mexico.

World War II ends. San Diego soon experiences recession.

San Diego voters approve 2 million dollar bond issue to begin development of Mission Bay.

San Diego assumes responsibility to finance completion of San Diego Aqueduct. Voters approve $2 million water bonds and annexation of County Water Authority to Metropolitan Water District.

George White Marston dies at age of 95.

San Diego Aqueduct opens, bringing first Colorado River water to San Diego.

Palomar Observatory opens in June. Construction on the 200-inch mirror had begun in 1934.

Sit-in at U.S. Grant Hotel to protest racial discrimination.

San Diego’s last electric streetcar completes its run from Union Depot. “Fiesta Bahia” celebrates opening of Mission Bay Park.

City of San Diego population is 333,865. San Diego County population is 556,808.

Passenger service on San Diego & Arizona Railway is discontinued.

Jack in the Box gets its start. Robert O. Peterson opens first drive-through restaurant at 63rd Street and El Cajon Boulevard. Peterson had previously operated Oscars.

California Western University is founded at site of Tingley’s Theosophical Society on Point Loma.

San Diego’s new Public Library opens.

University of San Diego is founded in Linda Vista.

General Dynamics takes over Convair. Campus in San Diego’s La Jolla area proposed for a University of California site.

El Cortez Hotel adds the world’s first outside glass hydraulic elevator, designed by C.J. Paderewski.

June 11, 1957
First test of USAF Atlas A missile is launched, built in San Diego by Convair. First successful test firing occurs on Dec 17, 1957 (on the 54th anniversary of the Wright brothers’ first flight), the missile landing in the target area after a flight of some 500 miles. The first operational missile, the Atlas D, will serve for launching Mercury manned spacecraft into orbit. Atlas becomes the workhorse of the space program, launching John Glenn in Mercury 7 for the nation’s first manned orbital flight in 1962.

Minor League Padres begin playing at Westgate Park in Mission Valley.

Theodore Seuss Geisel, long-time La Jolla resident writing as Dr. Seuss, publishes “The Cat in the Hat”, changing the way American children learn to read. He had been given a 225-word list, with a challenge to develop a book which would improve children’s literacy. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize in 1984 and two Academy Awards, Seuss was author and illustrator of 44 children’s books.

Interstate Highway 8 opens in February, following ancient Indian trails through Mission Valley.

Construction begins on San Diego’s second aqueduct.

Billy Wilder’s feature film Some Like it Hot is filmed at the Hotel Del Coronado, starring Jack Lemmon, Marilyn Monroe, and Tony Curtis.

Architect Lloyd Ruocco founds what will become Citizens Coordinate for Century 3 environmental group.