Archive for January, 2011
After fifty-six years of service on the high seas, the clipper ship Bohemia would end its days in “battle.” Immortalized on celluloid as a star of the movie “The Suicide Fleet,” the aging ship sank in deep water, twenty miles west of Coronado, torpedoed by German “U-boats.”
Read the story of the ship Bohemia and The Suicide Fleet.
New feats in aviation were treasured news stories in the early 20th century. In San Diego, the self-proclaimed “Air Capitol of the West,” aviation heroes were followed eagerly—and few more closely than a young aviator named Ruth Alexander.
Here’s the story of San Diego’s famed Ruth Alexander.
With one swift move of the hand at the big switchboard at “Wonderland” last night, Mayor Charles F. O’Neall of San Diego opened the big playground at Ocean Beach just as the clock struck seven. The blaze of light that followed was a startler to the crowds that were waiting outside the closed gates clamoring for admittance. –San Diego Union, July 3, 1913.
Read the story of San Diego’s Wonderland.
Less than two years after Alexander Graham Bell’s successful invention of the telephone, the mysterious hand gadget appeared in San Diego. Here’s the story of San Diego’s First Telephones.
A vaudeville act that is without its equal in the world today has been secured for the Grand theater . . . Harry Houdini, the noted handcuff and jail breaker, will give exhibitions of his skill here. –San Diego Union, Oct. 5, 1907
In the fall of 1907, Harry Houdini, soon to be known the world’s greatest magician and escape artist, came to San Diego to display his skills before crowded theater audiences . . .
The story of Houdini in San Diego.
In the early 1900s, few jobs were more tenuous than Chief of the San Diego Police Department. The pressures of city politics kept careers short, averaging eleven months between 1927 and 1934. The tenure of Chief Harry J. Raymond was briefer than most, and maybe the strangest.
Raymond became chief on June 5, 1933. With more than twenty years of police experience, largely as an investigator for the Los Angeles district attorney’s office, he brought to the job a “reputation for efficiency in force management,” according to the Los Angeles Times.
But his appointment to the $300 per month job by City Manager Fred Lockwood was instantly questioned . . .
Read the complete story of the rise and fall of Harry Raymond.
San Diego is a very fine, secure harbour . . . within there is safe anchorage for ships of any burthen. There is a sorry battery of eight pounders at the entrance: at present, it does not merit the least consideration as a fortification. –William Shaler, captain of the American trading ship Lelia Byrd.
In 1803, American sailors and Spanish soldiers went to war. Read the story of the “Battle of San Diego Bay.”
For landing and taking off hides, San Diego is decidedly the best place in California. The harbour is small and land-locked; there is no surf; the vessels lie within a cable’s length of the beach, and the beach itself is smooth, hard sand, without rocks or stones. For these reasons, it is used by all the vessels in the trade, as a depot. –Richard Henry Dana (1835)
Two Years Before the Mast by Richard Henry Dana Jr. is an American literary classic. The thrilling narrative of a voyage from Boston to the California coast in the 1830s was Dana’s personal memoir of his time at sea—an account which prominently featured early San Diego.
The story of Richard H. Dana and San Diego.
A front page headline in the San Diego Union screamed the news: “AMERICAN GUNBOAT TAKES HUN RAIDER OFF MEXICAN COAST.” Less than a year after America’s entry into World War I, San Diegans were riveted by reports of a captured German raider ship set “to create havoc with Pacific coast shipping.”
Three U. S. Navy gunboats had taken their prize fifteen miles off the coast of Mazatlan on March 19, 1918. “Heavily armed” and reportedly flying the flag of the Kaiser’s Imperial Navy. . .
Read the complete story of The German Raider.
Of the new town of San Diego, now the city of San Diego, I can say that I was its founder. –William Heath Davis, interview with San Diego Sun, December 1887.
Often forgotten in San Diego history is the pioneer some historians regard as the true founder of the City of San Diego. William Heath Davis certainly believed he deserved credit for his attempt of 1850—an effort that failed but paved the way for a later city builder named Alonzo E. Horton.
Read the story of San Diego’s founding: Davis’ Folly.