They have builded magnificent bridges where the nation’s highways go,
o’er perilous mountain ridges and where great rivers flow.
There was never a land too distant nor ever a way too wide,
but some man’s mind insistent, reached out to the other side.
This issue of the Journal of San Diego History is devoted to the history of civil engineering achievements in San Diego and is largely written by civil engineers. It marks the 150th anniversary of the founding of the American Society of Civil Engineers. The local chapter, headed by Gordon Lutes, dates back to 1915.
This is not meant to be a comprehensive review of civil engineering pursuits in San Diego, but rather a series of articles on several important civil engineering projects that have made an impact on our lives or have been deemed vital to the region’s growth and future.
Two of the articles are about Mission Bay, one of which is written by Bill Rick, whose father Glen is credited with development of the park. It came about at a time when California was waking up to the potential of aquatic parks for recreation for residents and as a tourist attraction.
There are also two articles on dams and water, whose importance continues as strong today as when the dams were created. Three significant buildings are profiled: Hotel del Coronado, an international icon for San Diego, and the County Administration Building, both historically important, and the new Convention Center.
Alas, there is no article about our magnificent bridges, of which we have at least two: the Cabrillo Bridge into Balboa Park and the San Diego-Coronado Bay Bridge.
The words of praise to bridge builders and engineers at the beginning of this article I have remembered ever since first reading them in a high school textbook. I can’t think of a more compelling vision of engineering.
San Diego Historical Society