June 15, 2016

2614 UNITED STATES (California) - Old Town San Diego State Historic Park

The first European settlement on the West Coast of the present-day United States was the San Diego Presidio, a military outpost of Spanish California, founded by Gaspar de Portolà in 1769, in an area inhabited by the Kumeyaay people. Mission San Diego de Alcalá was founded by Father Junípero Serra the same year. Both were built on Presidio Hill, which remained the primary settlement for several decades because it was defensible.

In 1821 Mexico became independent from Spain, and in 1822 a new military command, along with the former Spanish soldiers, created a community at the base of the Presidio. Because wood was scarce at the time, sun-dried adobe bricks were used. Thus, the buildings had a different look, a brownish-red color and rough exterior. When California was admitted to the United States in 1850, San Diego (still largely limited to the Old Town area) was made county seat, even though its population was only 650.

The Old Town area remained the heart of the city until the 1860s, when a newcomer began to promote development at the site of present-day Downtown San Diego. Between fires, droughts, earthquakes and illnesses, Old Town was declining throughout the remainder of the 1800’s. In 1907, efforts began to restore it, when a sugar plantation owner purchased Casa de Estudillo. During the rest of the early 1900’s buildings were restored and new ones were built to bring back its Spanish influence.

In 1968, Old Town San Diego became a State Historic Park and since then, millions of visitors have enjoyed the adventure back to witness the daily lives of its Mexican and early American citizens, and experienced the "Birthplace of California". The park preserves and recreates Old Town as it existed during the Mexican and early American periods, from its settlement in 1821, through 1872 when it lost its dominant position to Downtown

Five of the original adobe structures still stand: La Casa de Estudillo, La Casa de Bandini, La Casa de Altamirano Pedrorena and the Mason Street School, San Diego’s first one room schoolhouse. In 1868, the San Diego Union, the first newspaper, began its publication in Old Town. The first office of the newspaper is restored as it was when the Union printed its first edition on October 10 of that year. Visitors can see the original print-room and the editor's office.

Living history demonstrations and free tours are regularly scheduled. Historical interpretation is primarily carried out by park employees and volunteers, and the Mexican Commercial corner is host to several locally based small businesses and artists. The Old Town Transit Center serves the area with trolley, bus, Coaster, and occasional Amtrak service. For over 20 years, Old Town Trolley Tours has been providing sightseeing tours highlighting the best San Diego attractions.

About the stamps
About the first stamp, featuring a portrait of George Washington, I wrote here. The last stamp, dedicated to Jimi Hendrix (1942-1970), is part of the series Music Icons, about which I wrote here.

Old Town San Diego State Historic Park - Wikipedia
Old Town San Diego State Historic Park - Trolley Tours official website
San Diego Old Town Market - Official website

Sender: Denise 
Sent from Greenvale (New York / United States), on 29.03.2014
Photo: Abigail

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