The Journal of San Diego History
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!

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.

Hotel del Coronado

Archery on the Hotel's lawn

Page 186. Archery on the Hotel’s lawn, c. l905.

The Crown Room

Page 186. The Crown Room, c. 1888.

Guests in the courtyard

Page 186. Guests in the courtyard, 1908.

Lipton Cup Races

Page 186. Lipton Cup Races, August 30, 1905.

The beach and the Hotel

Page 187. The beach and the Hotel,  c. 1900

The Hotel del Coronado as seen by air

Page 188-189. The Hotel del Coronado as seen by air, December 17, 1924

Sailing and Tent City

Page 190. Sailing and Tent City, 1903

Hotel office

Page 190.
Hotel office, 1888

Ladies in summer hats

Page 191. Ladies in summer hats

rabbit chase

Page 191. Off on rabbit chase, c. 1890

Early Hotel staff

Page 191.
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.