Reflecting on San Diego History Through Our Namesake River

By  | 

The San Diego River has affected much of our city’s growth and development but today, some people might not give it much thought. Now, the Junípero Serra Museum is seeking to change that with a new visitor experience that tells the story of San Diego around its namesake river for the 90th anniversary of the dedication of the Museum.

This new core exhibition explores the earliest history of San Diego—the story of the people that lived along the river’s edge since time immemorial—as well as those that came to settle the area and changed and used the river in order to adapt to San Diego’s arid climate. According to the San Diego River Conservancy,

“It is a river rich in history and of great ecological values. It is the namesake waterway of the San Diego region and uniquely positioned to be the focus of a new thinking about the relationship to nature and the value it has in creating sustainable, high quality life communities.”

The new exhibit also focuses on the Presidio as the site of San Diego’s and California’s original European settlement, one that was an active military garrison from 1769 to 1835. The Presidio and its church complex housed soldiers, their families, craftsmen, Indian workers, prisoners, and others who settled in San Diego prior to the establishment of the Pueblo San Diego (now Old Town) at the foot of Presidio Hill. Historical accounts combined with archaeological data tell of the presence of diverse people from many different social and ethnic backgrounds, surviving in an often harsh environment. 

A hologram-like “Dialogues” feature offers perspectives of the layered and multi-faceted history of the region by showcasing contemporary people reflecting on that history. To further transport you, visitors will also be able to step back in time to view a sophisticated three-dimensional rendering of the Presidio and the Kumeyaay settlement of Kosa’aay. Upstairs, at the highest point of the Serra Museum, the tower vista gallery, step out onto the small balcony to take in the views of San Diego in all four directions.

Photo Credit: Sara Persson

This renovation, eight years in the making, preserves and restores the original architectural splendor of the interior spaces of the museum, and provides visitors with breathtaking views from the Serra’s iconic tower. 

About The Junípero Serra Museum

Operated by the San Diego History Center, the Junípero Serra Museum is an iconic regional landmark. Located just above Old Town San Diego State Historic Park, the Serra sits on one of the most significant historical sites on the West Coast, the site of the first permanent European settlement in what is today the State of California.

Michelle Stansbury is a freelance food, travel, and lifestyle writer. Feel free to reach out to her at [email protected] with story ideas!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *