Escondido (pronounced /ˌɛskənˈdiːdoʊ/ "eskun-DEE-doe") is a city located in California, just north of the city of San Diego. The name means "hidden" in Spanish—it occupies a shallow valley ringed by rocky hills. Founded in 1888, it is one of the oldest cities in San Diego County. The city has an estimated population of 128,819. The city is known as 'Eskondiid in Diegueño. A nationwide study in 2005 ranked Escondido #11 out of 25 of the most conservative cities in America.
Escondido was originally settled by Native American tribes. Spain controlled the land from the late 1700s to the early 1800s, and established many missions in California to convert the indigenous people. When Mexico gained its independence from Spain, the local land was divided into large "ranchos." The land that would become Escondido was Rancho Rincon del Diablo, a land grant that was given to Juan Bautista Alvarado in 1843 by the Mexican governor.
In 1846, war broke out between the United States and Mexico, and a key battle was fought in the area just south of Escondido. Known as the Battle of San Pasqual, it pitted Mexican Andrés Pico (the brother of then California governor Pío Pico) against Americans Kearny, Gillespie, and Kit Carson. A large park in Escondido is named for Carson.
The city was home to a large Spanish-speaking population in the first census back in 1850, but after the US won the war, non-Hispanic settlers came to Southern California in increasing numbers. The decade of the 1880s is known as the "Southern California Land Boom" because so many people were moving to the state. In 1886 a group of investors called the Escondido Land & Town Company purchased the 12,814-acre (52 km2) area. Two years later in 1888 Escondido was incorporated as a city - the vote was 64 in favor of cityhood with 12 votes against. Railroads like the Santa Fe and Southern Pacific were laid in the 1880s, and the opening of U.S. Route 395 in 1930 boosted economic growth in Escondido.
Escondido was primarily an agricultural community, growing muscat grapes initially. After a dam was built in 1894-5 to form what is known today as Lake Wohlford, oranges and lemons were planted in large quantity, as well as a number of olives and walnuts. By the 1960s avocados became the largest local crop. Since the 1970s, Escondido has lost most of its agricultural landscape to new housing developments.
From 1964–1968, the San Diego Chargers, then of the now-defunct AFL, held training camp in Escondido.
Through the 20th century the community grew and the economy diversified. Today the community has approximately 140,000 residents, and an economy based on agriculture, tourism, retail, services, light industry, and high tech. Escondido no longer has a large lower-middle-class population as it once had: most of this socioeconomic group had to move elsewhere when housing prices soared and older neighborhoods were bulldozed or renovated. Escondido has a high real estate appraisal rating, a phenomenon in North San Diego County since the population began to rise steadily in the 1970s.
36 Escondido homes were destroyed or damaged in the October 2007 Witch Creek Fire.
Escondido is served by the Escondido Union School District, the Escondido Union High School District,and the San Pasqual Unified School District. The city has 19 elementary, five middle, and seven high schools.
Public high schools:
* Escondido High School
* Orange Glen High School
* San Pasqual High School
* Classical Academy High School
* Escondido Charter High School
* Center City High School
* Valley High School
There is a wide range of API scores for Escondido schools, reflecting the demographic diversity of the city. As of 2007, six elementary schools in the district scored above the 80th percentile of all schools in the state, and eight elementary schools scored below the 20th percentile.
The Escondido Public Library system consists of the Main Branch, the East Valley Branch, Pioneer Room, Computer Center, and a bookmobile.
In 1981, Escondido National Little League became the 19th team to make it to the Little League World Series from the state of California. The team was first District 31 champions, then District 8 champions. They then won the Southern California Divisional Tournament at Youth Athletic Park by beating San Bernardino Civitan 3-2 in the quarterfinals, then beating Granada Hills American 5-1 in the semifinals and then beating Ladera National 7-5 in the finals to earn a trip to the Western Regional. At the Western Regional in San Bernardino, the Escondido team won four straight games to earn the trip to Williamsport.
Points of interest
Grand Avenue and Downtown
Downtown Escondido (centered on Grand Avenue) has become more active in the past few years with the opening of restaurants, cafes, and galleries. Every Friday night from April through September, the Downtown Business Association hosts the popular "Cruisin' Grand," where the public can show and view hot rods and historic cars. A different car club and/or featured attraction (i.e. antique fire trucks, nitro night, midget and sprint cars) is highlighted each week. Cruisin' Grand also features a DJ, hula hoop contests for children, and 7 trophies each night.
In addition to the many art galleries on Grand, a branch of the Mingei Museum has recently opened there. This museum displays handcrafts from around the world. Just one block off Grand Ave. is Grape Day Park with the civic center and the California Center for the Arts, Escondido that features two theaters, a visual arts museum, an educational complex, and a conference center. The Escondido Children's Museum and the Escondido History Center, two independent non-profit museums, are located in Grape Day Park. The Children's Museum features hands-on exhibits and programs for children up to 10 years of age, with an authentically regional perspective on natural and social science. The History Center features the city's original Santa Fe Depot, first library, Victorian house, barn, and blacksmith shop. The Pioneer Room of Escondido Public Library (located in the Mathes Center building next to the Main Library) has photographs, maps, oral histories, genealogical collections, directories and yearbooks documenting Escondido's history. The San Diego North Convention & Visitors Bureau is located in the California Center for the Arts, and sells half price arts performances and is the only ARTS TIX outlet in San Diego North. The Visitors Bureau also provides literature, maps, and their Travel & Planning Guide free of charge to visitors.
Palomar Medical Center, located just east of downtown, is the city's largest employer and the only designated trauma center in northern San Diego County
Wild Animal Park
A major tourist attraction just outside Escondido is the San Diego Wild Animal Park, sister park of the San Diego Zoo. The Wild Animal Park shows world animals in open habitat, where they can roam, graze, and fly.
With a history in agriculture, there are many farms and wineries around Escondido. Many of the wineries offer tours. Just to the north of Escondido in the community of Valley Center there is a lavender farm offering seasonal tours.
Valley Center and nearby Daley Ranch maintains a rural pre-colonial setting to remind tourists of a time when California was a frontier of New Spain and Mexico, especially the high number of residents of Spanish/Hispanic descent and from local Native American tribes.
Also in Valley Center is the burgeoning Native American casino industry. What once was a small collection of small casinos is now a rapidly maturing business. Even big time Vegas acts are coming to the new large hotel-casinos, and many offer golf and spa services.
Today, Valley Center is portrayed with an image of exo-suburban prosperity, when multi-million dollar homes and properties appeared in the 1990s and now residential and commercial development covers the landscape in the formerly farm-based community.
Three lakes are located in or near Escondido:
* Dixon Lake is located in the north and is well known for fishing and has a number of boating opportunities.
* Lake Wohlford is located on the north eastern fringe of the city limits, and also offers boating and fishing.
* Lake Hodges is located in the south western portion of the city, and also offers boating and fishing. A part of Lake Hodges is crossed by Interstate 15 via the Lake Hodges Bridge. Often this part of the lake is dry.
Stone Brewing Company
In 2006, Stone Brewing Company moved its headquarters and brewery from San Marcos, California to a new, much larger facility in the Quail Hills area of Escondido.
Queen Califia's Magical Circle
Queen Califia's Magical Circle, the last major international work by French artist Niki de Saint Phalle, is located in Kit Carson Park. De Saint Phalle, a colleague of Salvador Dalí and Jasper Johns, is best known for her Stravinsky Fountain, located in Paris, France. The artist chose Escondido as the site for her final work because it reminded her of Italy.
Deer Park Monastery
Deer Park Monastery is a Buddhist sanctuary that occupies 400 acres in the hills north of Escondido and west of Daley Ranch. It is one of the two monasteries in the United States under the direction of a well known Zen teacher Thich Nhat Hanh. Deer Park Monastery is home to 27 Buddhist monks and nuns, and it frequently hosts events and retreats that bring people from all over the western United States and from abroad.