The Journal of San Diego History
SAN DIEGO HISTORICAL SOCIETY QUARTERLY
Summer 1983, Volume 29, Number 3
Thomas L. Scharf, Editor
It would be built around a court…a garden of tropical trees, shrubs and flowers,…. From the south end, the foyer should open to Glorietta Bay with verandas for rest and promenade. On the ocean corner, there should be a pavilion tower, and northward along the ocean, a colonnade, terraced in grass to the beach. The dining wing should project at an angle from the southeast corner of the court and be almost detached, to give full value to the view of the ocean, bay and city.” It was in this manner that Elisha S. Babcock described to arcrhitect James Reid his dream for a grand hotel on San Diego’s Coronado peninsula. Together with H.L. Story, his business partner, Babcock’s plans were brought to fruition and the “Hotel del Coronado” was opened on February 19, 1888. Today, ninety-five years later, it still retains all of its original Victorian charm, and, as the followling photographs suggest, has enjoyed a rich and prismatic past. Happy Birthday Hotel del Coronado!
Cover image: The Hotel del Coronado, located across San Diego Bay on the Coronado peninsula, first opened for business in 1888. Today, ninety-five years later, it remains one of the most celebrated Victorian seaside resorts in the world. When plans for the structure were initially proposed by two midwestern businessmen, Elisha Babcock and H.L. Story, they promised “the largest hotel in the world . . . too gorgeous to be true.” These first owners would undoubtedly be pleased to see how impeccably the Hotel del Coronado’s present owners have maintained this architectural gem. The photographs that follow tribute to the hotel’s past as well as marking another milestone in its long and colorful history.
Page 186. Archery on the Hotel’s lawn, c. l905.
Page 186. The Crown Room, c. 1888.
Page 186. Guests in the courtyard, 1908.
Page 186. Lipton Cup Races, August 30, 1905.
Page 187. The beach and the Hotel, c. 1900
Page 188-189. The Hotel del Coronado as seen by air, December 17, 1924
Page 190. Sailing and Tent City, 1903
Hotel office, 1888
Page 191. Ladies in summer hats
Page 191. Off on rabbit chase, c. 1890
Early Hotel staff.
PHOTOGRAPHS are courtesy of the San Diego History Center’s Title Insurance and Trust Collection, the Hotel del Coronado and Larson Advertising Inc.