For decades San Diegans had promoted the region’s climate, scenic attractions, its commercial port and industrial potential as a lure for prospective homebuyers, healthseekers and investors. Most of the early hotels and resorts were developed with the idea that newcomers to the city would hopefully make San Diego their permanent residence. The 1915 Panama-California Exposition had been marketed nationwide as a means to boost the city through promotion of the port as the future commercial center of the Southwest. The exposition also brought millions of visitors to the area and San Diegans soon realized the financial benefits associated with the growth of a strong tourist economy.
The popularity of the automobile and development of a reliable highway system also brought visitors to San Diego. Its impact on the city was immediate. Again, the region’s near-perfect climate played a major role by affording the winter-weary Easterner or Midwesterner an escape from the cold. Out-of-town visitors could enjoy a variety of outdoor sports year-round, not to mention miles of warm, sunny beaches. In addition, the emphasis on Spanish and Mediterranean architecture and landscaping, coupled with the promotion of the city as the gateway to old Mexico, enhanced the illusion of a glorious, romantic past. Tourists flocked to San Diego, lured by the prospect of basking in the dream of days gone by.