San Diego Celebrates Its 250th Anniversary This Year

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The year 2019 marks the 250th anniversary of San Diego and California. On March 12, standing alongside a broad coalition of civic leaders, organizations, community volunteers and Kumeyaay representatives, Mayor Kevin L. Faulconer introduced collaborative efforts to commemorate the City’s 250th anniversary. The San Diego 250 initiative is a community-driven effort to create historic and educational opportunities to reflect on the city’s history and leave behind a legacy for the future.

“This year we mark a tremendous milestone – 250 years of history, culture, and achievement,” Mayor Faulconer said. “San Diego is the place where California began, and we will reflect on our past, commemorate this moment in time and look forward to building a better future for all San Diegans in the next 250 years.”

The first Europeans to arrive on the west coast sailed into San Diego Bay in 1542. This became the starting point for an exploratory expedition northward. Early settlers relied on the help of the Kumeyaay, and much of the exploration of California occurred over native trails. The San Diego we know today began on July 16, 1769, with the dedication of the Mission San Diego de Alcala, the first of 21 California missions. This first mission was established near the ancient Kumeyaay village of Kosa’aay (Cosoy), known today as Old Town San Diego.

Sierra at Night

“San Diego has been a place where diverse people and cultures share, mix, and sometimes conflict. As we look back, not just on the 250 years of San Diego, but also on the many years the Kumeyaay have lived here prior to European settlement, we see that our shared histories is what makes our region unique. 2019 is a year to engage in a deeper understanding of where we have been, how the past has shaped the present and to make more informed decisions for the future of our community.”

– Bill Lawrence, President and CEO of the San Diego History Center

This year, the city and regional partners look to commemorate this significant anniversary through three events slated to take place during 2019. The events are free and open to the public:

  • April 11, 2019 – Port of San Diego and Maritime Museum will co-host an event inspired by the arrival of the Spanish sailing ship, San Antonio, into San Diego Bay 250 years ago to the day. The event brings together the Kumeyaay Nation, public officials, the Maritime Museum and honored guests to share in marking the day that San Diego began.

  • July 16, 2019 – Honored guests and officials will gather atop Presidio Park to honor our past and envision our future during a civic ceremony to commemorate our shared history from 5pm-8pm. The San Diego History Center and City of San Diego are co-hosting the event which will feature a press conference, dedication of Kumeyaay flag, VIP tour of new exhibits, entertainment and refreshments. Presidio Park is the site of the first permanent European settlement in what is known as California.

  • September 14 & 15, 2019 – Rich in heritage and bursting with opportunities to explore, Old Town is not only historically significant but provides the perfect location for guests to fully immerse themselves in San Diego’s history and celebrate the future. The weekend-long Founders’ Day Festival will feature entertainment, vendors and activities for the whole family.

To learn more about the San Diego 250 efforts, visit To learn more about the history of San Diego, visit

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

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