San Diego was an area that experienced extremely slow growth. After Mexico declared independence from Spain, San Diego experienced a brief population surge that had ended by 1838. During this surge, people who had occupied the San Diego Presidio migrated to the flatter land below and settled down there. Wealthy Mexicans, or Californios, bought land there hoping for growth.
The trouble was that cattle ranching seemed to be the only industry that caught on. During the war against Mexico, San Diego changed hands many times between the US and Mexico. After the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, San Diego became a US territory and the part we now know as “Old Town” became the heart of the city with a population of 650.
San Diego continued to remain largely undeveloped, despite the US government’s insistence on the economic importance of the area. That is until Alonzo Horton stepped in to promote development in the Downtown San Diego area of today. Horton’s New Town eventually gained a connection to the Class 1 Streetcars that ran throughout San Diego, and a World’s Fair of sorts helped to boost interest in the area.
Today’s Old Town is a historic site. The area contains Old Town San Diego State Historic Park and Presidio Park, which are both official Historic Places recognized by the National Register. An annual Cinco de Mayo event is held there, as well as a community wide Dia de los Muertos festival that spans the first two days of November.
About the Author: Phineas Upham is an investor at a family office/ hedgefund, where he focuses on special situation illiquid investing. Before this position, Phin Upham was working at Morgan Stanley in the Media and Telecom group. You may contact Phin on his Phineas Upham website or LinkedIn page.