Originally, the area was El Rancho del Rey, (the Ranch of the King) used by Spanish soldiers to graze horses. After independence from Spain, Mexican Governor of California Pio Pico re-named it Rancho de la Nacion (Ranch of the Nation) and granted it to his brother-in-law John (Don Juan) Forster in 1845. President Andrew Johnson, in issuing a land patent, listed the name as simply "The National Ranch."
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 23.9 km² (9.2 mi²). 19.1 km² (7.4 mi²) of it is land and 4.8 km² (1.9 mi²) of it (20.13%) is water. National City is bounded by San Diego to the north and northeast, Bonita to the southeast, and Chula Vista to the south. San Diego Bay lies to the immediate west of the city. Also, within the boundaries of National City on the eastern side of town is the unincorporated area of San Diego County known as Lincoln Acres. National City is 15 minutes away from the US/Mexico Border (Tijuana).
As of the census of 2000, there were 54,260 people, 15,018 households, and 11,804 families residing in the city.
As of 2007, 19.5% of National City residents have incomes listed below the poverty level, a figure above the 12.4% California state average. In 2000, the estimated household income was $29,826. Currently, the estimated household income is $39,158, which is below the California state average of $59,958.
For example, the number of violent crimes recorded by the FBI in 2003 was 546. The number of homicides for that year was 9, a rate of 16.6 per 100,000 people and three times the national average of 5.5. The violent crime rate was 9.7 per 1,000 people. From 2003 to 2007, National City averaged 5.2 homicides a year or an average rate of 9.6 per 100,000 people.
In 2008, National City was homicide-free for the first time since 1963, though it still led San Diego County in violent crime with a rate of 6.1 per 1,000 people (County average was 3.9 per 1,000 for that year).
In the State Legislature, National City is located in the 40th Senate District, represented by Democrat Denise Moreno Ducheny, and in the 79th Assembly District, represented by Democrat Mary Salas. Federally, National City is located in California's 51st congressional district, which has a Cook PVI of D +7 and is represented by Democrat Bob Filner.
National City's 10 public elementary schools are under the National School District http://nsd.us/
National City's public middle and high schools are in the Sweetwater Union High School District
Highland Avenue - infamous Southern California car cruising route.
Brick Row on Heritage Square, 909 A Avenue Designed by San Diego architect R. C. Ball (who designed Folsom Prison), it was constructed by Frank Kimball in 1887 for $30,000.These 10 individual row houses were to be used by the executives of the Santa Fe Railroad. This architectural style is unique to this region and was molded after the row houses of Philadelphia and similar eastern cities. It was hoped that the railroad VIPs would not only feel at home surrounded by familiar architecture, but also be impressed by the cosmopolitan appearance of the young city. All the apartments have a formal dining room with fireplace, a kitchen, a parlor with fireplace, a butler's pantry, and four bedrooms upstairs
Twelve-inch thick interlocking brick walls divide the units. The brickwork on the row houses was laid with an artistic eye to break the severe lines of the long walls. The bricks above the second story are set upright at an angle. A one-story wooden porch runs the length of the building.
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, it now is an integral part of National City's Heritage Square. Each of the 10 units is privately owned and maintained; however, there is a protective covenant on the facade, so the exterior will always be in keeping with the Victorian surroundings.
Former Mayor Nick Inzunza declared National City an immigrant sanctuary on September 30, 2006 in a proclamation he presented to immigrants rights activists during dueling rallies that brought about 400 people to City Hall. This was the end result of a statement Mayor Inzunza made on National Public Radio on September 8, 2006. This proclamation divided the city between the stance of the ex-mayor and the federal and state regulations regarding this matter.
On November 7, 2006, Ron Morrison was elected mayor of National City. On November 28, 2006 mayor Morrison appeared on the KPBS program "Full Focus" with Gloria Penner and was asked if National City will continue to be a sanctuary city for illegal immigrants. Morrison responded, "absolutely not."
John T. Walton - son of Sam Walton and former heir to the Wal-Mart fortune (deceased)
Dan Saleaumua - former National Football League player
Rosie Hamlin - singer 1960's- song "angel baby"
Gail Devers - three-time Olympic gold medalist
Tom Waits - singer/musician