Articles by Richard Crawford
The great need of this town is about to be supplied by A. E. Horton, Esq., who will immediately erect, on the northwest corner of Fourth and D Streets, a palatial brick edifice, for hotel purposes. It is to contain a hundred rooms and to be fitted up with elegant furniture and all modern improvements. –The San Diego Bulletin, December 18, 1869
The story of San Diego’s first hotel, the luxurious Horton House Hotel.
A number of quite prominent San Diegans attended a séance given by Elsie Reynolds in a room at Dr. Barnes’ residence; Friday evening . . . a lady spirit was materialized, and came into the audience to shake hands. A lady present, at an opportune moment, seized the spirit around the waist with one arm and clinched its wrist with the other hand. The spirit shrieked and attempted to tear itself away. . . . The séance ended abruptly. –San Diego Union, January 20, 1889.
The religion of “Spiritualism” claimed millions of followers in the United States and Europe in the nineteenth century. Believers included Mary Todd Lincoln who hosted séances in the White House to reach her departed sons Eddie and Willie. Spiritualist demonstrations could also be entertaining, profitable for the mediums, and more often than not, fraudulent, as San Diegans would discover in the summer of 1888: The Spooks in San Diego
In the fall of 1918, San Diego children skipped rope to a popular rhyme:
I had a little bird
Its name was Enza
I opened the window
In the last weeks of World War I and in the months that followed, an influenza outbreak swept the world, infecting a billion people and killing as many as 50 million. It was one of the deadliest pandemics in history. In San Diego the scourge reached epidemic proportions . . .
Read the story of The Spanish Flu.
The Board of Education has just had their attention directed to a most deplorable state of morals existing in our schools; and the evil has been traced to some degraded persons . . . poisoning the minds of boys and girls. –Reverend Samuel J. Shaw, United Presbyterian Church, San Diego.
In 1903 San Diego, the 14th century novel The Decameron, was the target of the book censors. Read about the Deplorable State of Morals.
San Diegans planted olive trees by the hundred, citrus by the thousand and eucalyptus trees by the multi-million . . . the coming of the eucalyptus from Australia was the long awaited Millennium—practically a supernatural beneficence to every area of life: economical, medicinal, and ethereal. –Leland G. Stanford, San Diego librarian and author.
The story of San Diego’s eucalyptus trees.
Yesterday Tent City had a big crowd as the forerunner of the record breaker which is expected today. Every tent was crowded to capacity and day visitors packed the boats on every trip across the bay. –San Diego Union, July 4, 1910
Fourth of July celebrations in the early 1900s were huge civic affairs. And no city did it better than Coronado in 1910. Read about Coronado’s 4th of July.
Mr. A. E. Horton yesterday donated to the San Diego Free Reading Room Association his fine library. It will be remembered by old residents that this library was bought as the nucleus for a public institution some time ago—Mr. Horton having paid a large sum of money for it. –San Diego Union, May 21, 1873.
San Diego’s first public library struggled to open its doors. A large book donation by city father Alonzo Horton was a start. But there were strings attached. . .
The story of San Diego’s First Library.
With a roar that rocked the walls of the Savage Tire Company three hundred yards away, shook a trolley car on the rails five blocks off, and rattled the windows in the houses within the radius of over a mile, the Standard Oil Company’s 250,000-gallon distillate tanks blew up yesterday just before noon . . . –San Diego Union, October 6, 1913.
It was the most spectacular fire San Diego had ever seen. On Sunday morning, October 5, 1913, oil tanks at the Standard Oil Company plant at the foot of 26th Street exploded. The story of The Great Standard Oil Fire.
The city awoke this morning in a climate apparently transplanted. Shivers ran where shivers had not run before and the weather bureau was bombarded from early morn with telephone calls to know the reason why. Lightly constructed “Southern California” houses shrank with the cold and fairly trembled with the quivering of their occupants. –San Diego Tribune, January 6, 1913.
A century ago San Diego got a cold taste of winter weather. The story of the Big Freeze.
Christmas day every day in San Diego. Toys every day for children to whom the real Christmas has never meant a thing. That is the purpose of San Diego toy loan libraries. –San Diego Union, August 13, 1939.
A federal government success story: toy libraries for children during the Great Depression. The Toy Loan Libraries.