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History of San Diego, 1542-1908

PART FIVE: CHAPTER 5: The Twentieth Century Days

No historical work of any value can bring its story down to the day of its writing, at least with any degree of fullness. Not only is perspective lacking, but the influence of events cannot be measured until there has been time for them to work out their results, nor can the importance of men engaged in active life be estimated until their work is finished. For this reason, the early history of San Diego is dealt with extensively in preceding pages, while its later history receives less attention as we approach the present day. For the same reason, the plan of emphasizing the old and dealing lightly with the new is followed in the closing department of the work which is concerned with “Institutions of Civic Life.” It will be the work of a later historian to deal at length with the narrative of San Diego’s development after it became a city of substantial size and permanent character, and he will find the materials both abundant and easy of access. But while no attempt is made to set forth with any fullness the life of the last few years, it is nevertheless interesting and important to sketch in broad outline the expansion of the twentieth century city, and to mention the more powerful influences from which its impulse was derived.

LOUIS J. WILDE. Who was the strongest personal force in turning the tide for San Diego at the beginning of the new century. Coming here in 1903 and proclaiming his faith in the early realization of the city’s dream of greatness, he proceeded to inaugurate important enterprises which contributed materially to the city’s growth and prosperity.

The decade between 1890 and 1900 was a negative period in the history of San Diego. By the national census of the former year, it had a population of a little less than 17,000; by the census of the latter year, a population of a little more than 17,000. The decade is memorable throughout the nation as a period of depression, a part of which was marked by acute hard times. Thus the stagnation of San Diego during those trying years was in no sense peculiar to this locality, though it must be confessed that its recovery from depression was somewhat slower than that of other American cities, and even of most of those in California. The new prosperity began almost simultaneously with the new century. It came so gradually and silently as to be almost imperceptible at first. While the enterprising men of the city were not slow to take advantage of it, and to put their energies aggressively at work in carrying it forward, it cannot be said that it took its initiative from their efforts. The tide was rising throughout the world, particularly the world of the Pacific. San Diego rose with the tide. What were the forces behind the tide? First of all, a series of wars quickened the demand for men and for all sorts of supplies and provisions, putting almost unimaginable sums of money into circulation through all the arteries of trade throughout the world. The Japanese fought the Chinese, the Americans fought the Spanish and the Filipinos, the British fought the Boers, the Japanese fought the Russians, and there were many other armed conflicts of less consequence. While these struggles were remote from San Diego, they set currents in motion which affected commerce and material development everywhere, especially in the regions about the shores of the Pacific Ocean. In the meantime, gold discoveries were made in Alaska and the hunt for the precious metal was renewed with fierce energy in many different parts of the West. Then came the aggressive effort to cut the Isthmus of Panama, and to reclaim the deserts of the West. By this time the wind in the national sails had stiffened to the freshest gale of prosperity in American history.

D.C. COLLIER. President of the Ralston Realty Co. A builder of University Heights, projector of magnificent improvements on Point Loma, and participant in other great enterprises; he is a man of creative instinct and substantial achievement.

It was natural that Southern California should collect early and large dividends from this national and even world-wide uplift of good times. Southern California has two strings to its bow—vast material resources of its own to develop, and superlative attractions which drain the profits made in other localities. Beginning in 1901, and steadily increasing with every passing year, the Southland has gone forward with leaps and bounds, developing its resources, gaining population, attracting capital for investment, and enhancing its natural attractions by the most daring creations of the architect and the engineer.

RALPH GRANGER. President of the Merchants National Bank, builder and owner of the Granger Block. The erection of this building in 1904-05, was an important influence in the subsequent growth of the city.

Los Angeles scored an amazing growth in consequence of these conditions, acquiring an impulse which set the entire southern section of the state in motion. If there were those who once thought that Los Angeles and San Diego were rivals, and that the prosperity of one could be promoted by injury to the other, recent events have clearly shown the folly of their reasoning. If the Southern Pacific had built to San Diego instead of Los Angeles, or if Scott had been able to extend the Texas & Pacific to this port, it would certainly have altered the fortunes of these two important cities. But that battle was lost long ago. Since then, San Diego has had everything to gain and nothing to lose by the rapid development of Los Angeles and its surroundings. Sooner or later, this development must extend its sphere of operations to all eligible points in the South, most surely of all to the region about the lovely Bay of San Diego. This is what happened in the first decade of the new century, and it is now so clearly apparent that Los Angeles capital freely invests in San Diego real estate. Indeed, the marked change of sentiment on this subject may be regarded as the most significant event in San Diego history during the past few years. It is an event which has already borne fruit and which will bear more in the future, for it signalizes the end of clannishness in both cities and the beginning of an era of patriotic—one might almost say brotherly—co-operation in the development of the region. Striking illustrations of the tendency are seen in the investment of great sums of Los Angeles capital in land, power, and townsite enterprises in the northern portion of San Diego County, and in similar investments in gem mines, and in the lands of El Cajon Valley. The point has already been reached when any good San Diego enterprise may appeal hopefully to the Los Angeles market. Ten years ago it was very different.

E. BARTLETT WEBSTER. President of the Bartlett Estate Co. and of the South Park and East Side Railway Co. A leader of aggressive enterprise in transportation and suburban development.

Los Angeles scored an amazing growth in consequence of these conditions, acquiring an impulse which set the entire southern section of the state in motion. If there were those who once thought that Los Angeles and San Diego were rivals, and that the prosperity of one could be promoted by injury to the other, recent events have clearly shown the folly of their reasoning. If the Southern Pacific had built to San Diego instead of Los Angeles, or if Scott had been able to extend the Texas & Pacific to this port, it would certainly have altered the fortunes of these two important cities. But that battle was lost long ago. Since then, San Diego has had everything to gain and nothing to lose by the rapid development of Los Angeles and its surroundings. Sooner or later, this development must extend its sphere of operations to all eligible points in the South, most surely of all to the region about the lovely Bay of San Diego. This is what happened in the first decade of the new century, and it is now so clearly apparent that Los Angeles capital freely invests in San Diego real estate. Indeed, the marked change of sentiment on this subject may be regarded as the most significant event in San Diego history during the past few years. It is an event which has already borne fruit and which will bear more in the future, for it signalizes the end of clannishness in both cities and the beginning of an era of patriotic—one might almost say brotherly—co-operation in the development of the region. Striking illustrations of the tendency are seen in the investment of great sums of Los Angeles capital in land, power, and townsite enterprises in the northern portion of San Diego County, and in similar investments in gem mines, and in the lands of El Cajon Valley. The point has already been reached when any good San Diego enterprise may appeal hopefully to the Los Angeles market. Ten years ago it was very different.

MARCO BRUSCHI. Located, 1869, and one of the city’s oldest merchants.

A. KLAUBER. Located 1869, and became identified with great mercantile enterprises. Steiner & Klauber, Steiner, Klauber & Company, Klauber & Levi, Klauber, Wangenheim & Company–these names have been foremost in the city for nearly forty years. Chairman, Board of Supervisors, 1878-80.

Coming now to more purely local influences in forming the twentieth century spirit of the San Diegan people, the dramatic events on the Colorado River are worthy of first mention. This is said with full appreciation of the fact that the city has yet realized but meagre dividends from this unexpected development, owing to its lack of railroad facilities. In spite of this fact, real inspiration has been drawn from this source, and if San Diego is to be a very large and prosperous city during the present century it will be because the traffic arising from the use of the Colorado River breaks down the barriers of its isolation and forces the opening of the port to the commerce of the world. A few years ago, the eastern portion of San Diego County was an absolute blank. Neither animal nor human life disturbed its primeval silence. Few gave it a thought, fewer still believed it would ever become an important asset of the country. Today, it is known to all that a region bigger and richer than the country of the Sacramento, or the country of the San Joaquin lies at the back door of San Diego, less than three hours by rail from the water-front—if the rail were there!

L.L. BOONE. Located in 1886; Police Judge, 1887-88. Rendered important services in connection with the San Diego & Eastern Railroad Committee; foremost authority on San Diego Harbor.

HENRY TIMKEN. A type of the class of eastern capitalists who have come to San Diego to make their home and join the ranks of the city’s builders.

Only a few far-sighted men realize the true significance of these conditions, yet, dimly as the public has seen it, the public has yet put forth many efforts during the past few years to stretch a hand of steel from the perfect harbor to the Colorado River. These efforts have been almost pathetic in their eagerness, almost tragic in their repeated disappointment. The first one, at least, was carefully planned and many steps were taken successfully. The author of the plan was Major S. W. Fergusson, a man who ranks among the builders of California. He had a large part in the colonization of Imperial Valley, and it was from the standpoint of the needs of the valley that he approached the railroad proposition. He interested the Chamber of Commerce and secured the appointment of a committee with large powers. This committee raised over $40,000 in cash subscriptions to make complete surveys of a route from San Diego to Yuma. The surveys were made under H. T. Richards, chief engineer, with H. Hawgood as consulting engineer. The road was found entirely feasible, and the cost of construction and equipment estimated at $4,573,850, or $21,780 per mile. Rights of way were obtained over a large portion of the line with the necessary terminal property on the water-front and franchises from the city. The San Diego-Eastern Railway Company was incorporated with the following officers George W. Marston, president; John E. Boal, vice-president; L. L. Boone, secretary; G. W. Fishburn, treasurer; the foregoing and U. S. Grant, Jr., Charles N. Clark, Julius Wagenheim, Homer H. Peters, H. P. Wood, and F. S. Jennings, directors.

F.L. HIEATT. First President of the Commercial Club.

CHARLES L. WARFIELD. First President of the Realty Board.

The company approached great railroad financiers, like E. H. Harriman, George J. Gould, Phelps-Dodge & Co., and those in control of the Rock Island system, as well as many other capitalists of lesser note. Again and again, it was believed that the success of the undertaking was assured, but each time some potent influence intervened to prevent it. C. W. French acquired the rights of the company for a time and tried to promote it, but without results. Chief Engineer Richards organized a company of his own with a view of developing a similar project, but at this writing nothing tangible has arisen from his persistent and praiseworthy efforts. These failures did not discourage other attempts, the most notable of which was the movement organized by J. J. Simons for the purpose of having the city vote bonds and construct the road as a municipal work.

ARTHUR COSGROVE. Prominent for many years as a merchant and later promoter of suburban development.

M. HALL. Who stands in the front of large real estate operators.

It was evident enough to those who followed the course of these futile efforts that the powerful railroad interests of the United States were not ready to co-operate in giving San Diego more facilities of transportation, and that they were not disposed to encourage others to do so, nor even to permit them to do so, if they could prevent it. This sinister influence always lurked in the background, and on some occasions was exposed to the plain view of those engaged in promotion. The inference to be drawn from these facts is by no means discreditable to San Diego. On the contrary, the opposition of these powerful interests is the best evidence of the importance of the port. Nature fashioned it for a strategic point in Pacific Commerce. Its full development in advance of absolute necessity might seriously affect other ports, revolutionize steamship routes, and disturb a condition of equilibrium which has been painfully worked out by the transcontinental systems. Under such circumstances, it is by no means strange that the financial power which so largely rules the destinies of the United States has persistently opposed a direct railroad outlet for San Diego.

I. ISAAC IRWIN. A leader in commercial and public affairs.

CHARLES L. JOSSELYN. Who has borne an important part in civic, political and real estate movements.

Though this opposition has proven effective so far as the actual construction of a railroad is concerned, there can be no question that the San Diego-Yuma project has made decided progress in an educational way, both at home and abroad, and that the day of its realization has been brought nearer in consequence. Neither can there be any doubt that immediate advantage has resulted in other ways. The railroad agitation furnished excellent excuse for a revival, not of the boom, but of an aggressive real estate movement and of organized efforts to obtain new and wide publicity for San Diego and to inaugurate a new era of improvement, public and private. Without doubt, much of the present impetus which is carrying the city forward may be traced to the fact that the most enterprising elements were united in the summer of 1901 in what for some time appeared like a hopeful effort to obtain better transportation facilities. In this connection, it seems worth while to mention another great undertaking which was widely exploited throughout the United States, though it has not materialized as yet. This is the Pacific Steel Company, which was incorporated for $100,000,000, and which proposed to build extensive works and employ thousands of men at National City. General H. G. Otis, of Los Angeles, became president of this company, and a great deal has been done looking to the acquisition of coal and iron properties. Whatever the final outcome, it is the testimony of those who have followed the subject most closely that the discussion of the proposition to manufacture steel on the shores of San Diego Bay proved a most valuable advertisement for the city.

The work of Katherine Tingley and her followers at Point Loma must certainly be acknowledged as one of the contributing factors to the new era of growth. It involved a direct outlay of hundreds of thousands for the purchase and improvement of property, and for the maintenance of a considerable community within the city limits, which increased the volume of local business. It added a unique and interesting feature to the list of attractions for tourists, and lent new color to the social life of the place. Drawing its recruits from many different countries, and distributing its periodical literature throughout the world, its value as an instrument of publicity for the city and its surroundings must be regarded as very large indeed. Moreover, Mrs. Tingley extended her work and investment to the city proper, purchasing the principal theater and establishing branches of the Raja Yoga School there and elsewhere. The fame of the Point Loma institutions has strengthened with each passing year, as the beauty of the spot has increased with each new improvement and with the growth of its trees and flowers, and there can be no doubt that the organization over which Mrs. Tingley presides is to be reckoned as a permanent factor in the prosperity of San Diego.

The faith of John D. Spreckels in the future of the city, as evidenced by the widening scope of his enterprises and by the constant extension of his own power in their control, had much influence in strengthening the faith of others. The establishment of Tent City in the summer of 1901, and its continuance in each succeeding summer attracted thousands of people and put large sums of money in circulation. The improvements in the Southern California Mountain Water System were far more important. They solved the problem of water supply for a city of at least 100,000, thereby giving security to every other interest, and largely increasing the possible sphere of real estate operations. The street railway system was also extended wherever conditions justified it. The retirement of E. S. Babcock from various Spreckels companies was a fact of some historical significance. So far as those enterprises were concerned, it marked the passing of one influence which had been powerful in matters of vital public concern for many years, and signalized the growth of another influence and the consequent centralization of control in the hands of a single individual or family. Such is the inevitable tendency of great wealth under intelligent control. If there are those who deplore the tendency on broad economic grounds, there are few who will deny that in John D. Spreckels San Diego has a private monopolist who is kindly, liberal, and reasonably responsive to popular demands. He has done much for the city—much which would not have been done without the aid of private capital, much which private capital in other hands might have done less promptly and wisely.

U.S. GRANT HOTEL IN COURSE OF CONSTRUCTION, JUNE 1907.

Two other powerful builders of the city in recent years are Ralph Granger and U. S. Grant, Jr. Both of these men invested large sums in the improvement of the business section at a time when something of the kind was vitally necessary to sustain the forward movement. The erection of the Granger block at the southwest corner of Fifth and D Streets was undertaken at a somewhat critical time, when it was not quite certain that prosperity had come to stay. This large investment in a modern store and office building gave strength to the real

U.S. GRANT, JR.

estate market and encouraged much other building. Mr. Grant’s determination to construct a great hotel on the site of the old Horton House produced a similar effect, but upon a much larger scale. The city had long stood in need of a hotel which should rank with other splendid hostelries in Southern California. The location opposite the Plaza was generally reconized as ideal, and for many years the hope had been entertained that someone would utilize it for this purpose. The undertaking required not only a very large investment, but a generous confidence in the future of the city. Mr. Grant hit upon the happy thought of making the building a monument to his father and thus decided to call it the U. S. Grant Hotel. The destruction of the Horton House began in July, 1905. The first bricks were removed on the evening of July 12th, by Messrs. A. E. Horton, E. W. Morse, and W. W. Bowers, who had participated in laying the corner stone more than thirty years before. These pioneers were cheered by thousands, assembled in the Plaza for the purpose of celebrating “The Freedom of the Isthmus” from the monopoly of the Pacific Mail Steamship Company—a celebration that was somewhat premature so far as practical benefits to San Diego were concerned.

 

The growth of public utilities, the extension of school facilities, and the really remarkable movement in the building of new churches have all been sketched in other pages. These things, of course, were fruits of the new prosperity and of the increased population which came with it. The number of inhabitants was estimated at 35,000 in 1906, and various items of statistics which are available indicate a growth of nearly 100 per cent since the national census of 1900. Thus the post office receipts rose in five years from $39,151.85 to $64,190.33; the bank deposits from $1,830,923.60 to $5,388,518.66, and the building permits from $123,285 to about $3,000,000.

M.W. FOLSOM. President Folsom Bros. Co.

O.W. COTTON. Manager Folsom Bros. Co.

The real estate market, which had been dull for years, has shown constantly increasing activity from 1901 to 1906, the annual transfers increasing from 2,716 in the former year to 9,223 in the latter. Much of this activity was due to speculation—precisely how much it would be interesting to know and in this speculation local citizens took a considerable share. But very much of the buying represented a genuine demand for homes, and much of the investment was that of capital drawn from outside. Never was more persistent, aggressive, and brilliant work done in the interest of an aspiring city than that performed by some of the larger real estate interests during this new era in San Diego.

LEVIS BRINTON’S HOUSE. Corner Second and Walnut Streets.

MRS. MITCHELL’S HOUSE. Fourth and Nutmeg Streets.

The Ralston Realty Company, of which D. C. Collier is president, and the Folsom Brothers Company, under the management of O. W. Cotton, furnished notable instances of enterprise in this respect. They opened new tracts to development, inaugurated daring plans of improvement, and advertised conspicuously in publications of the widest circulation. The degree of attention thus attracted to San Diego brought benefits in which everybody shared. The operations of the Bartlett Estate Company were also very intelligent and successful. These, as well as other interests of less magnitude, did a kind of work for the city which ranks them among its builders.

CORNER OF SIXTH AND H STREETS. Showing Steele Block and Johnson Building, the latter containing the Sixth Street Bank.

The work accomplished by Ed Fletcher and Frank Salmons in the San Luis Rey region in connection with great investments of Los Angeles capital, while not related directly to the growth of the city, is to be regarded as one of the strong influences in strengthening confidence in its future, both at home and abroad. Furthermore, the development of power on the San Luis Rey will have a very direct relation to the future of manufacture and transportation in the city and its surrounding country, while the elaborate improvements made at Del Mar must increase the vogue of the whole San Diego coast as a summer and winter resort.

ED FLETCHER AND FRANK A. SALMONS. Who interested Los Angeles capital in great plans of development along the San Luis Rey, at Del Mar, in El Cajon Valley and the city, thus identifying themselves with land, power, irrigation and transportation enterprises of high importance to the community. Built Fletcher-Salmons Block, Sixth and D Streets, in 1906.

Real estate activity and general prosperity engendered a new public spirit, and this furnished the inspiration for many new organizations aiming to improve the conditions of civic life. Of these organizations, none were more useful than a series of neighborhood improvement clubs which began with the homely task of cleaning streets and yards and then went forward to more ambitious undertakings. One section of the city after another took up the work and the results were truly wonderful. Compared with conditions which had formerly prevailed in some localities, San Diego began to appear like a veritable Spotless Town. Many of the clubs have kept alive over a long period, while others wearied after the first enthusiasm passed. Organizations of a different character are the Realty Board, the Commercial Club and the Fifty Thousand Club. They do a useful work of promotion.

Another and different evidence of growth is seen in the liberal character of recent amendments of the city charter. The most important of these provide for the initiative, referendum, and recall. The adoption of these provisions placed San Diego among the two or three most advanced municipalities in the United States in the matter of government. The first use of the initiative was for the purpose of closing the saloons on Sunday, a reform which had been defeated for years by the city council. San Diego was in the full swing of its new prosperity when the news of the destruction of San Francisco by earthquake and fire was received on the morning of April 18, 1906. In many minds the first thought was not that San Francisco alone, but that all California, had been struck down, and that the end of San Diego’s progress had, perhaps, been reached for a time. California had formerly had an “earthquake reputation,” which had been patiently lived down after many years. Had it now been re-established in a few short hours of shock and flame, and, if so, would San Diego suffer in consequence? Many feared that such would be the case, and the prices of realty actually went down something like 15 per cent for two or three weeks. The market remained very dull and so continued for two or three months. When the trade returned to its normal condition prices quickly recovered and resumed the upward tendency which they had shown before the disaster.

No community of the United States was more prompt than San Diego in organizing relief activities and sending relief to the stricken people of San Francisco. Under the superb management of Mayor Sehon, committees were set at work, and funds and provisions collected. The sum of $25,000 was immediately contributed in cash, besides large quantities of supplies.

The real prosperity of San Diego during the early years of the new century finds its best illustration not in new hotels and business blocks, not in street railway extensions nor in rising prices of real estate, but in the number and beauty of comfortable little homes which have been built throughout the length and breadth of the city. These have multiplied with surprising rapidity, covering the sunny slopes, extending out upon the mesas, and reaping well down toward the water front. They are the prophecy of the San Diego that is to be.

A GLIMPSE OF SOUTH PARK.

The following 3 photos were not in the 1907 edition and have no page number.

JNO. S. HAWLEY. Formerly a manufacturing confectioner in New York City; now a resident of San Diego.

F.T. SCRIPPS. Owner of the newest, most modern fireproof building, whose confidence in and foresight concerning San Diego’s future has been shown by his success and investments.

F.T. SCRIPPS BUILDING. Sixth and C Streets. The construction of this building in 1907 marked the advance of the business district to the north and was a powerful factor in influencing the growth of Sixth Street as a commercial avenue of the first class.

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HISTORY OF SAN DIEGO

Main Page
Author’s Foreword
Introduction: The Historical Pre-Eminence of San Diego

PART ONE:   Period of Discovery and Mission Rule

  1. The Spanish Explorers
  2. Beginning of the Mission Epoch
  3. The Taming of the Indian
  4. The Day of Mission Greatness
  5. The End of Franciscan Rule
    Priests of San Diego Mission

PART TWO:   When Old Town Was San Diego

  1. Life on Presidio Hill Under the Spanish Flag
    List of Spanish and Mexican commandants
  2. Beginnings of Agriculture and Commerce
    List of Ranchos in San Diego County
  3. Political Life in Mexican Days
  4. Early Homes, Visitors and Families
  5. Pleasant Memories of Social Life
  6. Prominent Spanish Families
  7. The Indians’ Relations With the Settlers
    List of Mission Indian Lands
  8. San Diego in the Mexican War
  9. Public Affairs After the War
  10. Accounts of Early Visitors and Settlers
  11. Annals of the Close of Old San Diego
  12. American Families of the Early Time
  13. The Journalism of Old San Diego
  14. Abortive Attempt to Establish New San Diego

PART THREE:   The Horton Period

  1. The Founder of the Modern City
  2. Horton’s Own Story
  3. Early Railroad Efforts, Including the Texas and Pacific
  4. San Diego’s First Boom
  5. Some Aspects of Social Life

PART FOUR:   Period of “The Great Boom”

  1. Coming of the Santa Fe
  2. Phenomena of the The Great Boom
  3. Growth of Public Utilities
  4. Water Development

PART FIVE:   The Last Two Decades

  1. Local Annals, After the Boom
  2. Political Affairs and Municipal Campaigns
  3. Later Journalism and Literature [new material in second edition]
  4. The Disaster to the Bennington
  5. The Twentieth Century Days
  6. John D. Spreckels Solves the Railroad Problem

PART SIX:   Institutions of Civic Life

  1. Churches and Religious Life
  2. Schools and Education
  3. Records of the Bench and Bar
  4. Growth of the Medical Profession
  5. The Public Library
  6. Story of the City Parks
  7. The Chamber of Commerce
  8. Banks and Banking
  9. Secret, Fraternal and Other Societies
  10. Account of the Fire Department

PART SEVEN:   Miscellaneous Topics

  1. History of the San Diego Climate
  2. San Diego Bay, Harbor and River
  3. Governmental Activities
  4. The Suburbs of San Diego

Political Roster, City of San Diego
Political Roster, San Diego County