History of Coronado

Coronado was named for the Coronado Islands off the coast of San Diego. They were first sighted November 8, 1602 by Spanish navigator Vizcaino. He named them “Los Coronados” or “the crowned ones,” for four martyred saints of ancient Rome whose death had been on that day.

Coronado remained a barren peninsula and its chief population was jack rabbits until the island was purchased in 1885 by Elisha S. Babcock, Jr. and Hampton L. Storey. They rowed over to the island from San Diego to hunt rabbits and decided it would be an ideal setting for a luxurious resort hotel. With the railroad scheduled to reach San Diego, they believed Easterners looking for a more moderate climate would flock to the new hotel. The Hotel del Coronado opened in 1888 and shortly afterwards was sold to John D. Spreckels, the “Sugar King.” The hotel is a designated National Historical Landmark. In 1891, Benjamin Harrison was the first of 13 presidents to visit Coronado, joining the long list of celebrities as guests at the Hotel. The hotel remains Coronado’s most identifiable landmark today.

Another important part of Coronado’s history, both past and present, is aviation and the military. In 1911, Glenn Curtis opened an aviation camp in what is today the Naval Air Station North Island. During World War I, the Spreckels family sold it to the Navy for $5 million. In 1927 Col. Charles Lindbergh took off on the first leg of his journey to St. Louis, New York and Paris from North Island. Today, North Island homeports two aircraft carriers, making the military the top employer in the community.

More recent history includes the opening of the San Diego-Coronado Bay Bridge on August 2, 1969. On that day, Coronado installed its first traffic control signal light. In 1971 the first of the ten Coronado Shore Towers was completed. These 15-story condominium towers changed the skyline along the beach.

History is still a part of everyday life in Coronado with more than 85 historical sites designated in the City. For more information on Coronado’s history, contact the:

Coronado Historical Association
1100 Orange Avenue
Coronado, CA 92118
(619) 435-7242
Coronado History

Copyright 2012. Coronado Chamber of Commerce.

1125 10th Street | Coronado, CA 92118
tel: (619) 435-9260 | fax: (619) 522-6577 | email