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2nd January
written by Richard

In the matter of requiring prisoners in the county jail to perform labor, a resolution . . . to compel prisoners to work on the roads and streets was adopted. In the matter of the getting balls and chains for chain gang . . . the Sheriff was authorized to secure six balls with the necessary chains, for a chain gang. —San Diego Union, January 18, 1883.

The story of the chain gangs in 19th century San Diego: Read: Back on the Chain Gang

San Diego Union, Mar. 21, 1888

26th December
written by Richard

Here’s a new listing of favorite San Diego titles that circulate from the Public Library. It’s a highly subjective list but these are all good books, many written by good friends. There’s a few websites here too, including this one.




23rd August
written by Richard

D. C. Collier had his new automobile on the streets yesterday for the first time and the vehicle, when it was not speeding up and down the street, was the center of an admiring throng. . . He has the distinction of being the first San Diegan to own an automobile. –San Diego Union, Feb. 13, 1900

San Diegans marveled at the sight of Charlie Collier’s automobile in 1900. His three-wheeled “French designed” vehicle could speed up to 25 miles per hour and go 50 miles on three quarts of gasoline. For most San Diegans, it was the first automobile they had ever seen.

Read the story of how San Diego Discovers the Automobile.

29th July
written by Richard
The first issue of the San Diego Herald.

The first issue of the Herald.

After surmounting difficulties and suffering anxieties that would have disheartened any but a live Yankee, we are enabled to present the first number of the Herald to the public. –John Judson Ames, editor, San Diego Herald.

San Diego’s first newspaper, the Herald, appeared on May 29, 1851, only twelve days after the first issue of the Los Angeles Star, the earliest newspaper in Southern California. The editor and publisher of the Herald was thirty-year-old John Judson Ames, a towering, six-foot six-inch “live Yankee” from Calais, Maine.

Read the story of John Judson Ames and the San Diego Herald.

14th July
written by Richard

Major General Leonard Wood, chief of staff of the United States army, gave the command . . . The first automobile in the desperate San Diego-Phoenix race shot forward with a bound. –San Diego Union, Oct. 27, 1912.

In the fall of 1912, San Diego challenged Los Angeles to a road race across the desert to Arizona. The story of The Great Race


14689 Franklin Model E Touring - c. 1913

Ed Fletcher behind the wheel of his 20 hp Franklin “race car.” Special Collections, University of California, San Diego.

16th June
written by Richard

On July 22, I’ll be at the San Carlos branch of the San Diego Public Library. Here’s some info from the San Carlos Friends of the Library:

Friday, July 22, 2:00-3:00 pm: Richard Crawford will speak on “San Diego Yesterday.” July, 2016, San-Diego-YesterdayRick is the Manager of Special Collections at the San Diego Public Library. He is the former Archives Director at the San Diego Historical Society, where he also edited the Journal of San Diego History for nine years. He has degrees in history (San Diego State University) and library science (San Jose State University). As a historian and archivist, he has written extensively on local history, including the books Stranger Than Fiction: Vignettes of San Diego History, The Way We Were in San Diego, and most recently San Diego Yesterday.

San Carlos Library
7265 Jackson Dr.
San Diego CA 92119

(619) 527-3430

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8th June
written by Richard

Father’s Day is on the way and here’s a quick history fix for Dad.  The books are available from Amazon and in local bookstores. Each book has 38 stories originally published in the San Diego Union-Tribune. Topics include San Diego people, the military, schools, water, sports, crime, scandal, and more–all illustrated with historic photographs.

Now available in bookstores and
26th May
written by Richard

Saturday morning, June 4, I’ll be at the Costco in Poway from 11:00 to 1:00 to sign copies of San Diego Yesterday. Come see the book. A great gift for Father’s Day!

  • 12155 Tech Center Dr, Poway, CA 92064
  • (858) 848-2450


Also available at

Awarded “Best Published Local Interest” for 2013 by the San Diego Book Awards Association.

“Crawford masterfully sheds light on San Diego’s past in concise, digestible, yet information-laden narratives.” –Matthew Schiff, Journal of San Diego History

5th March
written by Richard

Please join us for a discussion with local author and historian, Rick Crawford, as he presents stories from his 2013 book, San Diego Yesterday.san-diego-yesterday-cover1-199x300

Extra copies of the book are available to borrow from the Skyline Hills library, or libraries through the area. Please join us for an inside peek into San Diego’s colorful history!

Wed, Mar 9, 6:00 PM – 7:00 PM

Skyline Hills Library
480 S. Meadowbrook Dr.
San Diego CA 92114

(619) 527-3485


28th January
written by Richard

Gambling ships were quite the vogue in the 1930s. Anchored three miles off the San Diego coast, ships like the Reno or Monte Carlo frustrated law enforcement but delighted the sporting crowd. Click below for a story I wrote many years ago about the ill-fated Monte Carlo, the wreck of which can usually be seen each winter at low tide in front of the Hotel del Coronado. This was originally published in Stranger Than Fiction: Vignettes of San Diego History (San Diego Historical Society, 1995).

The Gambling Ships of San Diego 

The SS Monte Carlo, beached at Coronado. From Stranger Than Fiction, p. 42.

The SS Monte Carlo, beached at Coronado. From Stranger Than Fiction, p. 42.