Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Presido Park

Presidio Park in San Diego was the first permanent European settlement on the Pacific Coast. It was used by the Spanish as a jumping off point for their colonization of California, which they achieved by establishing pueblos, missions and more forts. Although explored since 1542, no one chose to stay until the historical fort was built in May, 1769, under the authority of the King of Spain. The location was strategic, as the fort on the hilltop commanded sweeping views of San Diego Bay and the Pacific Ocean, and any intruders could be spotted from many miles away. Two months later, Junipero Serra founded the Mission San Diego de Alcala, just down the hill.

Almost immediately, there was an Indian uprising, and once it was quelled, the fort trained one cannon on the bay and another on the Indians. Permanent buildings eventually replaced the wood and thatch fort and the Mexicans took control in 1821 and then abandoned it in 1835, when the missions were abandoned, as well.

In 1907, George Marston, a local department store owner, purchased the hill, built a private park and then donated it to the city in 1929. It is still up the hill from the Mission, with a statue in honor of the Mormon Brigade, some cannon, rolling, grassy and wooded expanses, a classically columned pergola, and unrivaled views of the city, harbor and the Pacific. The wind sweeps up off the water ~ a perfect spot for a picnic.

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