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About San Diego

San Diego is a coastal Southern California city located in the southwestern corner of the continental United States. As of 2006, the city has a population of 1,256,951. It is the second largest city in California and the eighth largest city in the United States. It is the county seat of San Diego County. and is the economic center of the San DiegoCarlsbadSan Marcos metropolitan area, the 17th-largest metro area in the U.S. with a population of 2.9 million as of 2006, and the 21st largest Metropolitan area in the Americas when including Tijuana

Destination Guides>North America>USA>California>San Diego

San Diego Skyline
San Diego Skyline

San Diego County lies just north of the Mexican bordersharing a border with Tijuanaand lies south of Orange County. It is home to miles of beaches, a mild Mediterranean climate and 16 military facilities hosting the United States Navy, the United States Coast Guard and the United States Marine Corps.

The University of California, San Diego (UCSD) and the affiliated UCSD Medical Center combined with nearby research institutes in the Torrey Pines area of La Jolla make the area influential in biotechnology research. San Diego's economy is largely composed of agriculture, biotechnology/biosciences, computer sciences, electronics manufacturing, defense-related manufacturing, financial and business services, ship-repair and construction, software development, telecommunications and tourism.

History

The area has long been inhabited by the Kumeyaay people. The first European to visit the region was Portuguese explorer Juan Rodrigues Cabrillo sailing under the Spanish Flag, (1499 - 1543), who sailed his flagship, the San Salvador, from Navidad, New Spain. Cabrillo claimed the bay for the Spanish Empire and named the site San Miguel. In November of 1602, Sebastin Vizcano (1548-1624) was sent to map the California coast. He arrived with his flagship "San Diego". Vizcano surveyed the harbor and what is now Mission Bay and Point Loma, naming the area for the Spanish Catholic Saint St. Didacus (More commonly known as San Diego). On November 12, 1602, the first Christian religious service of record in Alta California was conducted by Fray Antonio de la Ascensin, a member of Vizcano's expedition, to celebrate the feast day of San Diego.

In 1769, the Presidio of San Diego (military post), which overlooks Old Town, was established by Gaspar de Portol at almost the same time as Mission San Diego de Alcal was founded by the Franciscan friars led by Father Junpero Serra. By 1797, the mission boasted the largest native population in Alta California (over 1,400 neophytes lived in and around the mission proper). After New Spain won its independence from the Spanish Empire in 1823, Mission San Diego de Alcal's fortunes declined in the 1830s after the decree of secularization was enacted, as was the case with all of the missions under the control of Mexico. In 1847 San Diego was a destination of the 2000 mile march of the Mormon Battalion which built the city's first courthouse with brick.

After the Battle of San Pasqual, the end of the Mexican-American War and the gold rush of 1848, San Diego was designated the seat of the newly-established San Diego County and was incorporated as a city in 1850. In the years before World War I, the labor union the Industrial Workers of the World conducted a free speech fight in San Diego, and was met with a brutal response.

Significant U.S. Naval presence began in 1907 with the establishment of the Navy Coaling Station, which gave further impetus to the development of the town. San Diego hosted two World's Fairs, the Panama-California Exposition in 1915 and the California Pacific International Exposition in 1935. Many of the Spanish/Baroque-style buildings in the city's Balboa Park were built for these expositions (especially for the one in 1915). Intended to be temporary structures, most remained in continuous use until they progressively fell into disrepair. All were eventually rebuilt using castings of the original facades to faithfully retain the architectural style.

After World War II, the military played an increasing role in the local economy. But at the end of the Cold War the local economy experienced a downturn due to cutbacks in the local defense and aerospace industry. San Diego leaders sought to diversify the city's economy, and San Diego has since become a major center of the emerging biotech industry. It is also home to telecommunications giant Qualcomm.

Downtown San Diego has been undergoing an urban renewal since the early 1980s, beginning with the opening of Horton Plaza, the revival of the Gaslamp Quarter, and the construction of the San Diego Convention Center. The Centre City Development Corporation (CCDC), San Diego's downtown redevelopment agency, has transformed what was a largely abandoned downtown into a glittering showcase of waterfront skyscrapers, and expensive live-work loft developments, five-star hotels, and many cafes, restaurants, and boutiques.

The North Embarcadero is slated to have parks in addition to a waterfront promenade. And Balboa Park will be linked to downtown with a view corridor. The recent boom in the construction of condos and skyscrapers has brought with it a gentrification frenzy, and some people are concerned that speculators have played too big a role in the condo market downtown. In the meantime, the city is committed to a "smart growth" development scheme that would increase density along transit corridors in older neighborhoods (the "City of Villages" planning concept.) Some neighborhoods are resisting this planning approach. But "mixed-use development" has had its successes, especially the award-winning Uptown Shopping Center in Hillcrest.

The latest accomplishment of CCDC has been the recent inauguration of PETCO Park. The once-industrial East Village adjacent to the new ballpark is now the new frontier in San Diego's downtown urban renewal.

A series of scandals has rocked the city in recent years. With mounting pressure aggravated by underfunding of pensions for city employees that began prior to his administration, Mayor Dick Murphy, in April 2005, announced his intention to resign by mid-July. Two city council members, Ralph Inzunza and deputy mayor Michael Zucchet who was to take Murphy's place were ultimately convicted of extortion, wire fraud, and conspiracy to commit wire fraud for taking campaign contributions from a strip club owner and his associates, allegedly in exchange for trying to repeal the city's "no touch" laws at strip clubs. Both subsequently resigned. The judge later set aside (overturned) the conviction in Zucchet's case.

On November 28, 2005, U.S. Congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham resigned over a bribery scandal. Cunningham represented California's 50th congressional district, which mostly lies outside (north) of the city of San Diego proper. He is currently serving a one-hundred-month sentence in prison.

Geography

The city of San Diego itself has deep canyons separating its mesas, creating small pockets of natural parkland scattered throughout the city. Downtown San Diego is located on San Diego Bay. Balboa Park lies on a mesa to the northeast. It is surrounded by several dense urban communities and abruptly ends in Hillcrest to the north. The Coronado and Point Loma peninsulas separate San Diego Bay from the ocean. Ocean Beach is on the west side of Point Loma. Mission Beach and Pacific Beach lie between the ocean and Mission Bay, a man-made aquatic park. La Jolla, an affluent community, lies north of Pacific Beach. Mount Soledad in La Jolla offers views from northern San Diego County to Mexico. Mountains rise to the east of the city, and beyond the mountains are desert areas. Cleveland National Forest is a half-hour drive from downtown San Diego. Numerous farms are found in the valleys northeast and southeast of the city. San Diego County has more endangered plant and animal species (as determined by United States Environmental Protection Agency) than any other county in the United States

Climate

San Diego predominantly has a semi-arid warm steppe climate (Koppen climate classification BSh). It enjoys mild, sunny weather throughout the year. Average monthly temperatures range from about 57Fahrenheit (14C) in January to 72Fahrenheit (22C) in July, although late summer and early autumn are typically the hottest times of the year. The average annual daily temperature is 70.5Fahrenheit. Snow and ice are virtually nonexistent in the wintertime, typically occurring only inland from the coast when present. "May gray and June gloom", a local saying, refers to the way in which San Diego sometimes has trouble shaking off the marine layer, a cloudy layer typically higher in the atmosphere than fog, that comes in during those months. Temperatures soar to very high readings only on rare occasions, chiefly when easterly winds bring hot, dry air from the inland deserts (these winds are called "Santa Anas"). The average annual precipitation is less than 12 inches (300mm), resulting in a borderline arid climate. Rainfall is strongly concentrated in the cooler half of the year, particularly the months December through March, although precipitation is lower than any other part of the U.S. west coast. The summer months are virtually rainless. Rainfall is highly variable from year to year and from month to month, and San Diego is subject to both droughts and floods. Thunderstorms and hurricanes are very rare.

Climate in the San Diego area often varies dramatically over short geographical distances, due to the city's topography (the Bay, and the numerous hills, mountains, and canyons): frequently, particularly during the "May gray / June gloom" period, a thick "marine layer" cloud cover will keep the air cool and damp within a few miles of the coast, but will yield to bright cloudless sunshine between about 5 and 15 miles inland -- the cities of El Cajon and Santee for example, rarely experience the cloud cover. This phenomenon is known as microclimate.

Communities and neighborhoods

Northern: Bay Ho, Bay Park, Carmel Valley, Clairemont Mesa East, Clairemont Mesa West, Del Mar Mesa, La Jolla, Mission Beach, North Clairemont, Pacific Beach, Pacific Highlands Ranch, Torrey Highlands, Torrey Hills, Torrey Pines, University City

Northeastern: Black Mountain Ranch, Carmel Mountain Ranch, Miramar, Mira Mesa, Rancho Bernardo, Rancho Peasquitos, Sabre Springs, San Pasqual Valley, Scripps Ranch, Sorrento Valley

Eastern: Allied Gardens, Birdland, Del Cerro, Grantville, Kearny Mesa, Lake Murray, Mission Valley East, San Carlos, Serra Mesa, Tierrasanta

Western: Hillcrest, La Playa, Linda Vista, Loma Portal, Midtown, Midway District, Mission Hills, Mission Valley West, Morena, Ocean Beach, Old Town, Point Loma Heights, Roseville-Fleetridge, Sunset Cliffs, University Heights, Wooded Area

Central: Balboa Park, Bankers Hill, Barrio Logan, Burlingame, City Heights, Downtown (Columbia, Core, Cortez Hill, East Village, Gaslamp Quarter, Horton, Little Italy, Marina), Golden Hill, Grant Hill, Logan Heights(Leva Heights aka Leche), Memorial, North Park, Sherman Heights, South Park, Stockton

Mid-City: City Heights, College Area, Darnall, El Cerrito, Gateway, Kensington, Normal Heights, Oak Park, Rolando, Talmadge, Webster

Southeastern: Alta Vista, Bay Terrace, Broadway Heights, Emerald Hills, Encanto, Jamacha-Lomita, Lincoln Park, Mountain View, Mt. Hope, Paradise Hills, Shelltown, Skyline, Southcrest, Valencia Park

Southern: Egger Highlands, Nestor, Ocean Crest, Otay Mesa, Otay Mesa West, Palm City, San Ysidro, Tijuana River Valley

Demographics

As of the censusGR2 of 2000, there were 1,223,400 people, 450,691 households, and 271,315 families residing in the city. The population density was 3,771.9 people per square mile (1,456.4/km).

Population by race/ethnicity (Census 2000 def.) Hispanic/Latino (25.4%)*The majority of Hispanics in San Diego are born in the USA, and are of Mexican ancestry (US Census 2000 confirmed)* non-Hispanic White alone (42.3%) non-Hispanic Black (7.9%) non-Hispanic Other Race alone (0.2%) non-Hispanic Asian, Hawaiian and Pacific Islander alone (10.4%) non-Hispanic American Indian/Alaska Native alone (0.4%) non-Hispanic Multiracial (3.3%)

There were 451,126 households out of which 30.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 44.6% were married couples living together, 11.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 39.8% were non-families. 28.0% of all households were made up of individuals and 7.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.61 and the average family size was 3.30.

In the city the population was spread out with 24.0% under the age of 18, 12.4% from 18 to 24, 34.0% from 25 to 44, 19.1% from 45 to 64, and 10.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 32 years. For every 100 females there were 101.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 100.4 males.

Downtown San Diego
Downtown San Diego

The median income for a household in the city was $45,733, and the median income for a family was $53,060. Males had a median income of $36,984 versus $31,076 for females. The per capita income for the city was $23,609. About 10.6% of families and 14.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 20.0% of those under age 18 and 7.6% of those age 65 or over.

Economy

Downtown San Diego at night
Downtown San Diego at night

San Diego Marriott Hotel and Marina
San Diego Marriott Hotel and Marina

Several areas of San Diego (in particular La Jolla and surrounding Sorrento Valley areas) are home to offices and research facilities for numerous biotechnology companies. Major biotechnology companies like Neurocrine Biosciences and Nventa Biopharmaceuticals are headquartered in San Diego, while many biotech and pharmaceutical companies, such as BD Biosciences, Biogen Idec, Merck, Pfizer, lan, Genzyme, Celgene and Vertex, have offices or research facilities in San Diego. There are also several non-profit biotech institutes, such as the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, the Scripps Research Institute and the Burnham Institute. The presence of University of California, San Diego and other research institutions helped fuel biotechnology growth. In June 2004, San Diego was ranked the top biotech cluster in the U.S. by the Milken Institute.

San Diego is home to companies that develop wireless cellular technology. Qualcomm Incorporated was founded and is headquartered in San Diego; Qualcomm is the largest private-sector technology employer (excluding hospitals) in San Diego County.Other companies also have research and development labs in San Diego, principally focused on cloning Qualcomm's CDMA cellular technology.

The largest software company in San Diego (acccording to the San Diego Business Journal) is security software company Websense Inc. Websense was founded and is headquartered in San Diego.

The economy of San Diego is influenced by its port, which includes the only major submarine and shipbuilding yards on the West Coast, as well as the largest naval fleet in the world. The cruise ship industry, which is the second largest in California, generates an estimated $2 million annually from the purchase of food, fuel, supplies, and maintenance services.

Due to San Diego's military influence, major national defense contractors, such as General Atomics and Science Applications International Corporation are headquartered in San Diego.

Tourism is also a major industry owing to the city's climate. Major tourist destinations include Balboa Park, the San Diego Zoo, Seaworld, nearby Wild Animal Park and Legoland, the city's beaches and golf tournaments like the Buick Invitational.

Real estate

San Diego has experienced dramatic growth of real estate prices in the last decade, to the extent that the current situation is sometimes described as a "housing affordability crisis". Median house prices more than tripled between 1998 and 2007. According to the California Association of Realtors, in May 2007, a median house in San Diego cost $612,370. Growth of real estate prices has not been accompanied by comparable growth of household incomes: housing affordability index (percentage of households that can afford to buy a median-priced house) fell below 20% in early 2000's and remains very low. San Diego metropolitan area has second worst median multiple (ratio of median house price to median household income) of all metropolitan areas in the United States. As a consequence, San Diego has been experiencing negative net migration since 2004, with significant numbers of people moving to Baja California and Riverside county, with many residents commuting daily from Tijuana, Temecula, and Murrieta, while commuting to their jobs in San Diego. Others are leaving the state altogether and moving to more affordable regions.

Colleges and universities

According to education rankings released by the U.S. Census Bureau, 40.4 percent of San Diegans ages 25 and older hold bachelor's degrees. The census ranks the city as the ninth most educated city in the United States based on these figures.

Public colleges and universities in the city include University of California, San Diego (UCSD), San Diego State University (SDSU), and the San Diego Community College District, which includes San Diego City College, San Diego Mesa College, and San Diego Miramar College.

Private colleges and universities in the city include Alliant International University (AIU), Design Institute of San Diego (DISD), John Paul the Great Catholic University, National University, NewSchool of Architecture and Design which is co-located with the San Diego Center for Spiritual Living, Pacific Oaks College, The Art Institute of California, San Diego, Point Loma Nazarene University (PLNU), and University of San Diego (USD) .

There is one medical school in the city, the UCSD School of Medicine. There are three ABA accredited law schools in the city, which include California Western School of Law, Thomas Jefferson School of Law, and University of San Diego School of Law. USD is a "top 100" law school with one of the highest ranked tax programs in the country, while California Western School of Law is considered to be ranked among the "top 25" law schools for sports and entertainment law. There is also one unaccredited law school, Western Sierra Law School.

Culture

The Museum of Man is one of several museums in Balboa Park.
The Museum of Man is one of several museums in Balboa Park.

Many popular museums, such as the San Diego Museum of Art, the San Diego Natural History Museum, the San Diego Museum of Man, and the Museum of Photographic Arts are located Balboa Park. The Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego (MCASD) is located in an ocean front building in La Jolla and has a branch located at the Santa Fe Depot downtown. The Colombia district downtown is home to historic ship exhibits as well as the San Diego Aircraft Carrier Museum featuring the USS Midway aircraft carrier.

San Diego has a growing art scene. "Kettner Nights" at the Art and Design District in Little Italy has art and design exhibitions throughout many retail design stores and galleries on selected Friday nights. "Ray at Night" at North Park host a variety of small scale art galleries on the second Saturday evening of each month. La Jolla and nearby Solana Beach also have a variety of art galleries.

The San Diego Symphony at Symphony Towers performs on a regular basis and is directed by Jahja Ling. The San Diego Opera at Civic Center Plaza was ranked by Opera America as one of the top 10 opera companies in the United States. Old Globe Theatre at Balboa Park produces about 15 plays and musicals annually. The La Jolla Playhouse at UCSD is directed by a two-time Tony Award-winner Des McAnuff. The Joan B. Kroc Theatre at Kroc Center's Performing Arts Centeris is a 600-seat state-of-the-art theatre that hosts music, dance and theatre performances. The San Diego Repertory Theatre at the Lyceum Theatres in Horton Plaza produces a variety of plays and musicals. Serving the northeastern part of San Diego is the California Center for the Arts in Escondido, a 400-seat performing arts theater.

Tourism has affected the city's culture, as San Diego houses many tourist attractions, such as SeaWorld San Diego, Belmont amusement park, San Diego Zoo, San Diego Wild Animal Park, and nearby Legoland. San Diego's Spanish influence can be seen in the many historic sites across the city, such as the Spanish missions and Balboa Park. Cuisine in San Diego is diverse, and there is an abundance of wood fired California-style pizzas, and Mexican and East Asian cuisine. Annual events in San Diego include Comic-Con, San Diego/Del Mar Fair, and Street Scene Music Festival.

San Diego has a fairly large gay population and gay culture. The annual Gay Pride Parade usually draws crowds in excess of 100,000 people. According to U.S. Census data from the year 2000, San Diego had a gay index of 186 (gay male index of 226 and a lesbian index of 144); the national average gay index is 100. San Diego has the largest gay index in Southern California, surpassing Los Angeles (168). Most of the gay community, including the LGBT center and every gay bar in San Diego is located in Hillcrest and surrounding neighborhoods of University Heights and North Park.


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