Historic photos of the Whaley House and Whaley family members
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Panoramic view of Old Town San Diego from 1852

Old Town San Diego

Scarcely more than one mile in length and one-half mile in width, Old Town encompasses within its boundaries many of the important aspects of San Diego's early history. Its appeal to the tourist lies chiefly in the glimpses afforded into the yesteryear, when the Spanish dons held sway in the sleepy little village nestling into the foothills. Old Town's first civilian resident was Captain Francisco M. Ruiz, in the first years of the nineteenth century. In 1846, its population numbered 250, and in 1850 it was incorporated as a city, its government activities centering around the Plaza Vieja. In 1868 a rival subdivision sprang up farther south, at the present site of Downtown San Diego. In 1872, the business district of Old San Diego burned, thus ending the fight for supremacy. The new subdivision became Downtown San Diego, and the reconstructed pioneer village Old Town San Diego.

The history of Old Town is a fascinating story beginning with the birthplace of California. In keeping with this history, California State Parks owns and operates a number of original and reconstructed buildings as part of Old Town San Diego State Historic Park. In addition to the Whaley House, San Diego County Parks owns and operates Heritage Park, a village of Victorian structures that show many styles of San Diego's Victorian heritage, along with the oldest synagogue in San Diego.

Old Town San Diego


2476 San Diego Avenue · San Diego CA 92110 · Phone (619) 297-7511
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