A SILENT AND SOLITARY PLACE (1835-1846)

July 1, 1995

The Journal of San Diego History
SAN DIEGO HISTORICAL SOCIETY QUARTERLY
Summer 1995, Volume 41, Number 3
Richard W. Crawford, Editor

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“..blessed with a climate, than which there can be no better in the world…”
– Richard Henry Dana
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In 1835, a young Bostonian, Richard Henry Dana, arrived in San Diego as a sailor on board the Pilgrim, a ship engaged in the hide trade. As an early American observer, Dana noted San Diego’s isolation from the outside world and its dependence on the hide trade as the means of exchange for goods from foreign markets. He also noted the barren, desert-like landscape, the ruins of the former Spanish presidio which overlooked the small Mexican outpost of San Diego and the diversity of people and nationalities which the port attracted. Dana’s observations about San Diego recorded during a summer spent curing hides later formed the basis for a book about his travels, Two Years Before the Mast. Of the many impressions recorded by Dana during his stay in San Diego, two found expression time and again in his writings — the area’s near-perfect climate and bay. Although Dana could not have envisioned the city we know today, he quickly recognized the region’s natural advantages — advantages that would be echoed by others who would use the bay and climate to promote San Diego for the next 150 years.