Welcome to the New Discoveries blog! City of San Diego City Clerk Archives staff use this area to upload newly rediscovered documents from San Diego’s history. In their duties, staff often find unique and interesting pieces of history they want to bring to the public. Those documents are uploaded here and then organized into their appropriate Collection, or a new Collection is created. Please check back frequently for fascinating new finds and discoveries!
Published on September 22, 2023
1890 - San Diego’s First Development of the Jewish Community
Take a look at this incredible photo from 1890 showcasing Roseville on the Point Loma Peninsula. It's connected to a well-known San Diego pioneer named Louis Rose. Louis Rose was a German Jewish immigrant and San Diego’s first identifiable Jewish resident. Rose was a pioneer developer of San Diego, California. He came to San Diego in 1850, via New Orleans, Louisiana, and Texas. Arriving just as California became a state in 1850, he was San Diego’s first member of the County Board of Supervisors. Another interesting fact is that the neighborhood of Roseville in Point Loma, Rose Creek and Rose Canyon are named after him. Rose was a founding member of Congregation Beth Israel. Congregation Beth Israel became Temple Beth Israel, San Diego’s largest synagogue.
Published on September 20, 2023
October 13, 1915 – Cost of Horse Care
This 1915 Resolution No. 20495 accepted the bid of Dr. O. A. Diller to care for 8 horses belonging to the Police Department. The monthly fee per horse is $18, making $144 per month, and $1,728 per year. Since 1889, horses served as the primary means for police patrols in remote areas. However, in 1916, they were replaced by automobiles. With the reinstitution of patrols in Balboa Park, mounts were once again used in 1932. This modern mounted patrol was disbanded in 1948. It was revived in 1983 and ceased in 2010.
Please take a moment to view this interesting photo capturing flamingos in a serene pose amidst a bustling tour bus and a gathering of onlookers. San Diego Zoo has established itself as a prominent landmark in our city and an essential destination for visitors. Established in 1916, San Diego Zoo has grown into one of the world's largest zoos, housing over 14,000 rare and endangered animals. By providing a space for families to share enjoyable moments together, the Zoo also serves as a valuable educational resource, reminding us of our duty to protect and preserve wildlife.
Published on September 15, 2023
April 6, 1908 - Petition of W. L. Short to Sell Pennants During the Visit of American Fleet to San Diego
W. L. Short submitted the petition in 1908 to sell Pennants during the visit of American fleet, with the purpose of providing more employment opportunities. In April 1908, the 16 battleships of the "Great White Fleet" anchored near the Coronado for four days. During this time, thousands of sailors and marines took part in a splendid parade through the streets of San Diego. It is worth mentioning that this historic event was part of President Theodore Roosevelt's strategic effort to demonstrate the immense maritime power of the United States by sending the U.S. battleship fleet on global expeditions from 1907 to 1909.
This particular image showcases the cast alongside select members of the crew from the Goldwyn Pictures film titled, “Red Lights” (1923). Notably, the backdrop includes the prominent presence of locomotives #104 and #105 from the San Diego and Arizona Railroad. This film was a captivating silent mystery, directed by Clarence G. Badger, starring Marie Prevost, Raymond Griffith, and Johnnie Walker. Much of the movie takes place on a moving train with red lights flashing throughout many of the scenes, can you imagine the suspense and excitement?
Published on September 11, 2023
July 05, 1934 – Morley Field
In this historical document from 1934, John G. Morley's significant contributions to the development of the San Diego Park System are recognized. As a tribute to his efforts, the Recreation Area in the northeast corner of Balboa Park was named "Morley Field." Morley began serving as superintendent of San Diego’s parks in 1911. During his 27 years in office, our beloved park flourished and transformed into the breathtaking beauty we see today under his wise guidance and unwavering inspiration. Morley assumed office just in time for the preparations of the extraordinary 1915 Panama-California Exposition, during which the Park Commission required a proficient administrator to showcase Balboa Park and oversee other city park projects. Leveraging his expertise in landscaping, Morley deftly resolved challenges associated with park landscape construction. Furthermore, he skillfully utilized his diplomatic communication skills to establish productive collaboration with engineers and architects involved in the Exposition, ensuring efficient progress of the work.
June 23, 1925 – Giant Dipper Roller Coaster and Its Builders
It is amazing to see a group of hardworking construction workers striking a pose in front of the soon-to-be-completed Giant Dipper roller coaster. Can you believe that it's because of their dedication and effort that the Mission Beach Amusement Center (now known as Belmont Park) opened its doors on July 4, 1925? Talk about historical significance! This amusement park was developed by the sugar magnate, John D. Spreckels. The locals in San Diego have countless happy and unforgettable memories of this iconic spot. It holds a special place in our hearts.
January 14, 1895 – Russ High School to State Normal School
According to this historical document from 1895, Mayor William H. Carlson convened a mass meeting to discuss offering the Russ School house and grounds to the State Normal School. This proposal was prompted by the growing population of the city and the scarcity of teachers, making the establishment of normal schools a pressing necessity during that era. It's worth noting that the Russ Public School, which was founded in 1882 and named after lumberman Joseph Russ, eventually evolved into the present-day San Diego High School. Subsequently, the San Diego Normal School was established on March 13, 1897, and is now known as San Diego State University, situated in University Heights.
1915 - Yuma Indian Band at the Panama-California Exposition
This group photo captured a significant moment at the Panama-California Exposition, featuring the members of the Yuma Indian Band from Arizona. The band members all attended Yuma Indian School. They embarked on a 200-mile journey across challenging terrains including arid deserts and imposing mountains to reach San Diego. Skillfully playing their instruments, they infused the exposition with their unique melodies, enriching the artistic experience and bringing a sense of joy among attendees.
Published on August 30, 2023
May 25, 1910 - Clairvoyance and Palmistry
In 1910, Mrs. L. Hampton submitted an application to the City Council for a clairvoyance and palmistry license. Multiple similar applications are also preserved in the archive’s records. Throughout history, people have always been curious about what the future holds, so they can plan and take control of their lives. Careers such as clairvoyants and psychics have since seen a significant growth within the profession since the early 1900s.
The soaring gliders featured in this photo were frequently seen in action at Torrey Pines on weekends. The cliff tops offered such amazing vantage points for spectators. San Diego has a rich history of aviation. Gliding has been a central component of the aviation culture in San Diego over the years. Due to the unique free wind resources, Torrey Pines rapidly developed into a gliderport in the 1930s. The first annual Pacific Coast Midwinter Soaring Championship took place at Torrey Pines in 1947, and this exciting competition persisted until 1979.
Published on August 25, 2023
February 15, 1926 - Rat Catcher
In 1926, the San Diego County Medical Society proposed to the City Council to appoint a "rat catcher." Being a port city, San Diego was concerned about the potential escape of plague-infected rats from ships docking at the port. The introduction and spread of diseases such as plague, rat leprosy, and pseudo-tuberculosis were feared consequences. This concern arose after a plague epidemic occurred in Los Angeles between 1924 and 1925, with the disease subsequently spreading from urban rats to rural rodents, becoming established in numerous regions across the western United States.
Check out this photo capturing the aftermath of the January 1916 floods in San Diego. Just before the floods hit, the City Council agreed to pay 'Rainmaker' Charles Hatfield $10,000 if he filled Lake Morena. The floods are still considered the most catastrophic weather event in the history of San Diego, causing the unfortunate loss of 22 lives and the destruction of numerous bridges, roads, and rail lines. The floods also led to the collapse of several dams, resulting in massive waves devastating the communities downstream. The force of the floods caused homes to be swept away by the powerful currents, while downtown San Diego experienced up to five feet of water. Hatfield wasn’t paid a dime.
Published on August 21, 2023
March 31, 1939 – Go AZTECS!
San Diego State College, now known as San Diego State University, expressed gratitude to the City Council for their diligent efforts in sending the Aztec basketball team to Kansas City in this 1939 document. The 3rd annual NAIA basketball tournament was held in March at Municipal Auditorium in Kansas City, Missouri. A total of 32 teams participated in the tournament. Our beloved Aztecs placed second, only losing by one point! San Diego takes so much pride in our team, and we continue to support and love them just as much as ever.
Check out this super cool photo! Waldo Waterman drove his Chevy Bird to the San Diego 200th Anniversary Air Show in 1969, at 75 years of age. Can you believe it? He was a real aviation pioneer. Waterman started to build a glider when he was 14 years old in 1909. He even achieved his first successful flight down a canyon near his house in San Diego that same year! In 1912, he enrolled at the University of California at Berkeley to study engineering and then became head of the University's Department of Flight Theory and Military Aeronautics. Additionally, he served as the chief engineer for the U.S. Aircraft Corporation. In 1929, he built the Waterman Whatsit, the first tailless flying-wing monoplane in this country, and the first plane to use the modern version of the tricycle landing gear. Waterman was inducted into the International Air & Space Hall of Fame in 1968.
Published on August 16, 2023
April 1, 1878 - Petition of Colonel A. B. Hotchkiss, et al regarding Dobles Brewery on Pueblo Lot No.1161
Since 1877, we have identified breweries in our City’s municipal records. See this beautifully handwritten petition from San Diego County Official, A. B. Hotchkiss that served as the District Attorney (1873-75) asking the honorable Board of Trustees for the proposed work for “Doblers Brewery” to open the road for public street travel. Breweries remain to be a lucrative industry in our ever-growing municipality that continues to support our local economy.
December 6, 1925 - Communication from F. A. Rhodes, Manager of Operations regarding George W. Marston
See the document regarding George Marston petitioning for permission to purchase land in "Old San Diego,” with a detailed description and a clear map. The work that our City’s pioneers completed, continues to be instrumental in our every day lives.
undated - Ernestine Schumann-Heink: Legendary Contralto in Her Time
Check out this awesome group photo! Can you spot Ernestine Schumann-Heink? She's the second person on the left and she's even holding a rabbit in her hand! Isn't that adorable? Ernestine Schumann Heink (1861-1936) was a renowned contralto singer. Her powerful and emotive voice made her one of the most celebrated opera singers of her time. She gained recognition in America and throughout Europe for her exceptional vocal range and dramatic interpretations. In 1899, Ernestine embarked on a highly successful international tour, captivating audiences worldwide. She became a favorite at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City, performing in operas like Wagner's "Tristan und Isolde" and Verdi's "Aida." Her career spanned several decades, and she retired in 1932 but remained involved in music as a teacher and mentor. She lived most of her life in San Diego since 1911 and was interred in Greenwood Memorial Park after her death.
Published on August 9, 2023
April 27, 1909 – Municipal License
Historically, many “peddlers” would petition the City for permission to sell goods on the street.
See the Municipal License from 1909 granting the permission of a Shooting Gallery on 5th Street (now known as 5th Avenue) for the term of six months.