In the early 1600’s a Spanish explorer Sebastian Vizcaino caught sight of a group of islands seventeen miles off the coast of southern California and named them Las Yslas Coronadas. For almost 200 years the peninsula remained bare. It changed hands several times until it was purchased by Elisha S. Babcock, on November 19, 1885. They used to row over to the island from San Diego to hunt rabbits and decided it would be an ideal setting for a luxurious resort hotel and formed the Coronado Beach Company. The work on the Hotel Del Coronado began on March 19, 1887. The Hotel Del Coronado officially opened its doors to the public on February 19, 1888. South of the Hotel was a large tent city for tourists.
In July 1889 John D. Spreckels became an investor in the Coronado Beach Company. Over the next three years, Spreckels became the sole proprietor of the Hotel Del Coronado. He also oversaw the building of the grand mansion on Glorietta Boulevard, the establishment of Tent City, and the sale of North Island to the U.S. government in 1917 for 5 million dollars. Today, North Island ports aircraft carriers, making the military the top employer in the community.
For many years a ferry across the bay was the most direct way to reach Coronado, however, as the peninsula became more populated the idea of making it more assessable to San Diego became an important issue. In February, 1967 construction of a $50 million bridge began. Its distinctive towers and graceful curve brought the bridge the “most beautiful bridge” award of merit from the American Institute of Steel Construction in 1970.
The land where the Tent City was located became a building site for high rise condominiums. A plan was drawn which extended South of the Hotel del Coronado and included thirty-seven acres. These high rises were named Coronado Shores Towers. In June 1971, the first tower was completed. The “Cabrillo” tower was the first out of 10 fifteen-story condominium towers built throughout the 1970s. Today the Coronado Shores is a very popular spot for summer tourists and second homeowners.
Coronado continues to prosper and it also continues to keep its small town ways. History is still a part of everyday life in Coronado with more than 85 historical sites designated in the City. This makes Coronado a place that people want to come back to.
Coronado has a unique way of life that is priceless!