The history of Solana Beach, California, stretches back to prehistoric times when hunters and gatherers hunted giant bison and mastodons. Throughout the pre-Columbian era, bands of Native Americans lived along the coast where they fished the lagoons and gathered seeds. The Spanish arrived in 1769 and eventually built missions and explored the region.
When Mexico won its independence from Spain in 1821 the area went under Mexico’s ownership. Most of the areas resident at that time were descendants of Spanish settlers. The Spanish grandsons were politically active and had large ranchos in the area. Thousands of San Diego County acres became privately owned during the Mexican regime. In 1836 the mayor of San Diego at the time, Don Juan Maria Osuna took 8800 acres known as Rancho San Dieguito. He built his own home in 1845 on what is today Via de la Valle (restored for Bing Crosby and Lillian Rice)..
A dramatic turn in the history of Solana Beach took place after the Mexican American War of 1846. California became a U.S. territory in 1850. Until the 1860s the area was dominated by wealthy Spanish/Mexican landowners.
The Settlement of Solana Beach
Settlers began to arrive steadily at Solana Beach during the late nineteenth century. During Solana Beach’s earliest days, there were a few ranches who also took part in light agriculture. During this period, the land was strewn with avocado groves and fields of growing lima beans. The construction of the cross-country railroad, of course, made it easier for increasing numbers of people to settle down in the region. Most of these people were ranchers and farmers. However, as more people came, the need for homes grew and construction on smaller plots of land began to house the growing population of workers.
20th Century in Solana Beach
By the 1920s, however, the population began to increase and by the years before and after WWII, Solana Beach enjoyed a population boom. This growth fostered many neighborhood beautification projects and home constructions. The town built schools, community centers, and commercial buildings to house shops and restaurants. Unlike other San Diego suburbs, Solana Beach largely retained its quiet, small-town charm. It may not boast the vibrant nightlife that other parts of the region do, but it is famous for its postcard-worthy beaches and eclectic art scene.
Today, Solana Beach is famous for its many art galleries, antique shops, eateries, and boutiques. This suburb of San Diego is home to about 13,000 residents and boasts a family-friendly atmosphere. Of course, throughout this period of settlement, Solana Beach has retained its great air of natural beauty. Some of its beaches are bordered by rock cliffs while others are ideal for water sports. Be sure to explore the bluffs to enjoy the area’s incredible views when you’re visiting.
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