The Journal of San Diego History
SAN DIEGO HISTORICAL SOCIETY QUARTERLY
Summer 1995, Volume 41, Number 3
Richard W. Crawford, Editor
With the arrival of the railroad, word quickly spread east that San Diego had a lot more to offer than just land. Nationwide promotional efforts not only capitalized on the real estate opportunities available in San Diego, but on the beneficial qualities of the city’s incomparable climate. San Diego offered Easterners an escape from cold, dreary winters and hope for all those afflicted with respiratory disorders and other debilitating ailments. The promise of an ideal climate, coupled with the prospect of renewed health, did as much to lure newcomers as did the land boom.
The area’s climate proved to be a natural advantage that outlasted the boom and one that continued to draw newcomers to the city. Recognition of San Diego’s potential as a resort community became a strong selling point to the outside world. Thousands of healthseekers flocked to the city. Many decided to stay and make San Diego their permanent home.
Promotion of the climate and real estate opportunities spurred San Diego’s hotel industry. Soon other elegant hotels competed with the Horton House. The lovely Hotel Florence on 4th and Fir became a favorite for lavish civic functions, while the Lakeside Inn, built to attract investors to the inland county, offered a gracious country setting.
Nothing, however, compared to the hotel envisioned by two Midwestern men, Elisha Babcock and H. L. Story. In 1885, they purchased the peninsula across the bay, auctioned off most of the land through their newly formed Coronado Beach Company and proceeded with plans for a 399 room hotel that would rival any of the great resorts in the east. Completed in early 1888, the majestic Hotel Del Coronado boasted the largest installation of electric lighting in the nation. Its gorgeous circular dining room, unsupported by a single column, was an engineering feat. The great, white, gleaming edifice, situated on a sandy stretch of isolated beach, truly embodied the spirit and vision of those who believed San Diego’s future was assured.