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Mission Beach, Mission Beach Vacation Rentals, Mission Beach Hotels, Mission Beach Condos, Mission Beach Rentals, Mission Beach Restaurants, Attractions, Beaches, Real Estate, 92109, Ca,

The History of Mission Beach

Over 100 Years of "Fun in the Sun" at the beach!

Photo: Mission Beach in the early 1900's, a tent city and beach get-a-way. Mission Beach began to develop after the huge growth and success of the Coronado Beach community in the late 1800's and early 1900's. "People wanted to visit the beach and not leave", was the reason for the tents. It allowed visitors to have "extended stays"

Photo by The San Diego Historical Society

History of Mission Beach
A compilation of history and events that shaped the Mission Beach area over the last 100 years.

( See Mission Beach a 100 Year photo history below)

From a one time tent city and section of "worthless dunes" this area has become a world class destination and beach resort community, here is a brief look back at some of the important moments and milestones which made Mission Beach San Diego what it is today.

A look back at over 100 years of fun at San Diego's best beach!

The start of local history of this area goes back to the late 1890's and early 1900's when the first residents and people started coming down and visiting the Mission Beach on a regular basis. The city of San Diego was beginning to grow and the first transcontinental railroads were in place bringing out a growing population into San Diego from the west. At that time, Coronado was the place to be. It had been set up as a tent city and was becoming very popular. Thousands of people were flocking to Coronado and developers were looking for a "new beach" to develop and expand to during this growth period. Pacific Beach at that time was an area of lemon groves and a railroad that connected directly with downtown scattered with a few homes and small businesses. There was no railway system into Mission Beach and it was referred to as sand dunes which extended past the then marsh areas of Mission Bay.

The Mission Beach & Mission Bay area (later developed and dredged in the late 1950's) area was referred to as the "False Bay" area, for an incident going back to the days of early explorer Juan Cabrillo as explained below.

The early Spanish explorers named that shallow estuary which is now Mission Bay , "Puerto Falso." One version of this origin is attributed to Cabrillo, some of whose men, returning from a trip ashore in search of fresh water, reportedly stumbled upon the northerly inlet and, not seeing Cabrillo's ship, thought that he had sailed without them.

The name also comes from the early explorers and Catholic Missionaries who stumbled upon the "false bay" and beautiful beach areas on their way to establishing the chain of Missions which goes all the way up the California coastline. "The Mission Beach" area is at the bottom of the San Diego river where many of the first Mission's were built by the first settlers from the west in the late 1700's. The Presidio Mission for example was one of the first in San Diego by Old Town and is less than 2 miles away from the water entrance of The San Diego River by Mission Beach.

When the Mission Beach area started to grow in popularity a local entreprenuer J. M. Asher built a Tent City in the north section of Mission Beach for those who folks who wanted to visit the beach and not leave. This tent city was set up in "Old Mission Beach" and is the north section of Mission Beach where Vanitie Court and Yarmouth Court areas. These sections of Mission Beach have the oldest buildings and structures and were the earliest sections of beach to be developed.

A day at the beach in Mission Beach was a fun and relaxing experience and the popularity in this area began to grow to the point that Asher began zoning the area and selling lots for those who "did not want to leave". This allowed visitors to have a small tract of land to keep their tents and personal belongings in and allow them to stay for days or weeks, or months as permanent residents which was also common.

At this time a small pool was constructed for "Women Only" and other small structures were built for the "new visitors".

J. M. Asher began to sell lots and offer people the opportunity to "stay at the beach", which was an easy thing to sell and do. This began the first early settling of Mission Beach and soon the lots were selling like hotcakes. This allowed visitors to "stay at the beach for an extended amount of time".

J. M. Asher is referreed to as "The Father of Mission Beach" for being the first entreprenuer and developer to build out Mission Beach during this early late 1800 and early 1900 time period.

Because the main development plans came in the early 1900's (in 1914 the Mission Beach Syndicate was selling lots and had the first recorded map which was adapted by the San Diego Common Council) little space was alotted for cars and the orginal plan was to develop Mission Beach as a "resort city". This was the year that John Spreckels buys his first plot of land in Mission Beach. Speckels already owned most of Coronado including the Hotel Del and the Coronado Beach Company and he had been eyeing the penninsula south of Pacific Beach for some time. He had also working on the San Diego & Arizona Railroad, called the "Impossible Railroad", which finally opened a rail link to the east in 1919, after 13 years under construction. This began bringing an influx of people into San Diego. People thought Spreckels was nuts for buying up "the worthless dunes" as they were known at that time and nothing more than a strip of dunes extending south of Pacific Beach.

As land was being bought and developed a map was formed to slice up the lots for sale and development. Mission Beach was still mainly a summer vacation spot and did not have many full time residents at that time. That was about to change with the new Mission Beach planning map. In the Mission Beach city map not all east-west passageways were alike. Thirteen east west streets were on the original map. They were to be twenty-four feet wide and traversible by car. Each of these was designated as a "Place," not a "Street." The remaining fifty-two, interspersed between the Places, were ten-foot-wide walkways, and each became a "Court." Vehicular access to lots on the Courts was via unnamed east-west alleys which ran parallel to the Courts. If by today's standards lots were small and access inadequate, it is well to remember that the Beach was conceived as a summer resort only, that the automobile was still a novelty in 1914, and that the north end of the Beach was intended to become an owner-occupied Tent City. This is why in Mission Beach all you need is a good beach cruiser to get anywhere you need. The is one main road with 2 way traffic, Mission Blvd, which is the one road going through the area. Aside from that there is just one alley on each side and the boardwalks on both the beach and bay sides of the penninsula. In 1925 the Mission Beach city plan as a "resort city" won honors at The Second Annual Exhibition of Landscape Architects.

The timing of this master plan being developed explains why there are only 13 "Places", that allow cars to drive up to the beach and 52 "Courts" which are accessible by walking only. This turned out to be a blessing in disguise since it has made the beach more of a place to walk or bike than drive. The Courts were to be named from beach and resort areas (mainly on the east coast) and as they went north the started adding more courts in between places to fit more lots on the remaining beach land to sell. Mission Beach has 13 "Places" which are 24 foot streets where cars can drive and each one is named after an actual Mission along the Baja California coastline. In 1914 at the time of the naming there were 21 Missions for the 13 Places. The "Places" are actually in order as the go up the California coastline. It was obvious then that with Missions comprising the first names of the streets or "Places" and Missions being the first early Missionaries had passed by on their way up river that "Mission" and "beach", would make an obvious name for the area of "Mission Beach".

Mission Beach would have remained a small tent city with staggered growth if it was not for the vision of local entreprenuer John Spreckels.

Here is an excerpt on some of his financial success in San Diego, which was just the tip of the iceberg for this legendary San Diego businessman who came in and developed Mission Beach as a desired beach resort area.

"Spreckels became a millionaire many times over, and the wealthiest man in San Diego since moving from San Francisco after the great earthquake in 1906. At various times he owned all of North Island, the San Diego-Coronado Ferry System, Union-Tribune Publishing Co., San Diego Electric Railway, San Diego & Arizona Railway, Belmont Park in Mission Beach. He built several downtown buildings, including the Union Building in 1908, the Spreckels Theatre and office building, which opened in 1913, the San Diego Hotel and the Golden West Hotel. He employed thousands of people and at one time he paid 10% of all the property taxes in San Diego County."

Speckels had made fortunes in the sugar industry and also in the cruise line and transportation business in addition to making fortunes by investing and building many San Diego local buildings and businesses. He was very famous for being an entrepreneur who made millions by investing in San Diego and making it a real city with a core infrastructure of transportation. The main thrust in transportation came through connecting all the then seperate and individually owned railroads and creating a unified electric traincar line that eventually connected the whole city and allowed people more acces to the entire area. Speckels also built and completed a railway system which connected San Diego to Phoenix, which at the time also increased the flow of visitors and new residents to the area.

Mission Beach at that time was not easily accessible and the Mission Bay area had not been developed at all leaving the Mission Beach area as a sort of "sand dune strip", between the marshy bay and ocean. The population in Pacific Beach in the early 1920's was only around 500 people, which was the main beach community to the north and Mission Beach was just being re-organized as a tent city to a small residential neighborhood. Speckels formed the subsidiary, Mission Bay Company in 1923. His successful resort community served summertime residents and soon became very popular.

Speckels saw this section of "worthless dunes" and prepared to spend thousands to connect a railway system which would connect San Diego to Mission Beach and then to Pacific Beach and La Jolla to the north. He had the same type of vision for developing Mission Beach as he had for Coronado years before. Speckels had bought out the remaining railways in the area and created one unified company which could transport passengers to all sections of the city. It was Spreckels who first developed the electric rail car system in San Diego and Mission Beach was one of the new areas he connected to this system creating a route from San Diego to La Jolla though Mission Beach. President of the San Diego Electric Railway, Spreckels developed a coastal line running from Ocean Beach through Mission Beach and Pacific Beach and in 1924 the line would extend northward to La Jolla.

The street car line was supposed to tie everything together'Ocean Beach, Mission Beach and its Amusement Center, and La Jolla. Actually, though, the car line was opened almost a year earlier than the Amusement Center. John D's son Claus was in charge of the building. It was completed as far as Ocean Beach in May, 1924. The rest of the line through Mission Beach to La Jolla was finished within the next two months and service to La Jolla began on July 1, 1924. This was the beginning of the No. 16 line. The No. 16 continued service through this area until Sept. 16th 1940 when the era of modern cars began to take over and put the rail line into decline.

Spreckels greatest contribution came in 1925 when he created the Mission Beach Amusement Park. This was a new park to the north for Ocean Beach had the first amusement park and there was a road connecting the two areas at that time by the South Mission Beach Jetti. It was mainly a fishing bridge and a connector between Ocean Beach and Mission Beach. It was eventually done away with to make an opening to Mission Bay and a drainage area for the San Diego river which emptied into this area.

The Giant Dipper Roller Coaster opened to the public on July 4, 1925. It was originally built as a key attraction for the 33-acre Mission Beach Amusement Center, which had opened just a few weeks earlier. The 2600 ft. long coaster was created by the noted design team of Prior and Church. It was built in less than two months by local suppliers and a crew of between 100 and 150 workers. The original cost to build the coaster was $150,000.00, including the two, 18 passenger trains.

The original Mission Beach Amusement Park included a dance hall, casino, roller rink, plunge and a host of rides to go with the Giant Dipper Roller Coaster. It was a grand sight to see and visitors flocked their by the thousands to ride the rides and enjoy the beaches.

At this time the area grew very popular and Spreckels new how to throw on a show using bathing suit beauties in 1925 to run a walkway and show the newest styles for the times. These events and the lure of warm sand and a beautiful ocean made the park a major area attraction.

The Mission Beach Amusement Center was later named Belmont Park and was extremely popular all through the 30's and 40's and was a major attraction in the San Diego area even through times of The Great Depression when development in the area came to a standstill.

Another popular place to open up at this time was "The Plunge" swimming pool which was the largest swimming pool in Southern Califiornia when it was completed in 1925. The Plunge at, opened in May, 1925 as the highlight of all of Park The 60' by 175' pool, was at the time the largest salt-water pool in the world holding 400,000 gallons of water.

In the late 20's the local residents started to form a small, tight-knit community. Local clubs started to be formed such as the Mission Beach Women's Club. The Mission Bay Yacht Club was also founded in 1927 by members of the prominent Scripps family. The trolley that went down Mission Beach Boulevard also made community to La Jolla and downtown very easy. The picture to the left is one of the times when one of the clubs of Mission Beach had their meeting. Both places are still around to this day.

One of the most historical moments of early Mission Beach was the flyover by Charles Lindberg in 1927. Lindberg and The Spirit of Saint Louis passed over Mission Beach on their journey from San Diego to the east coast for his solo ocean flight flight.
MAY 21, 1927 -- Charles Augustus Lindberg becomes the first man to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. Flying in his "Spirit of St. Louis" he takes less than 34 hours to fly from Roosevelt Field, near New York City, to Paris, France. He was greeted upon his arrival by a frenzied crowd of more than 100,000 people at Le Bourget Field.

Charles Lindberg was a San Diego based resident and one of the more famous residents in his day. He was preparing for his flight over the Atlantic Ocean and could often be seen flying over the area in his Spirit of St. Louis airplane.

The Mission Beach area began to grow after the end of World War 2. The influx of military personel provided the largest contribution to residents and homes in the area.

The prices were right and the beaches and ocean views were hard to leave for many who came form the midwest and other parts of the country. Many of those who spent years stationed in San Diego decided to call this place home when their enlistments ran out and the area began to grow at a rapid pace.

One 2 bedroom cottage styled home owned and purchased by the Endorf family on the corner of Strandway and Vanitie Court was purchased just after the war for about $4,000.including the lot and home. Today a lot and home in that same area would start at around 1 million dollars or more depending on how nice the home was.

These small cottage style homes soon began to spring up all over the beach on 25 x 50 foot lots and Mission Beach began to develop as a community and not just an attraction area.

It was also around this time that the electric rail cars began to lose their appeal and cars were now popular and used by the majority of the public. The rail cars soon lost out to a real road, Mission Blvd., and the area began to experience a boom in growth. By this time the population of Pacific Beach was reaching nearly 30,000 people.

It was in the late 1940's and into the 1950's that the landscape of the area began to change as Mission Bay dredging and expansion enabled the city to add more land and recreational space and build Fiesta Island at the same time. In the late 1920's the state had already seen this area as a park and recreation site and they soon began securing land around the soon to be Mission Bay, which would not actually start development until the mid 1940's. The land aquistion included one-half miles of prime beach property in Mission Beach from the Spreckels Company.

The City's first dredging operation commenced early in 1946, and created the area then known as Gleason Point, now Bahia Point. Between 1946 and 1956, the City completed dredging in the West Bay, west of Ingraham Street, at the same time creating some new land areas with dredged material. In addition, a narrow channel was dredged in the east bay to De Anza Cove, the point of which was created by dredged material.

In 1956-57, the City Engineering and Planning Department prepared preliminary drawings of a master plan for the area, showing that millions of yards of undesirable soils and unsatisfactory materials would be disposed of in the ocean. Public hearings were held, and it was evident from the vigorous public protest that disposal of the undesirable material at sea would not be acceptable, so it was decided to add an island in the bay (Fiesta Island), and make this a disposal area. So goes the history on how Fiesta Island on Mission Bay came to be which is now a popular recreational area for jet ski's, bikes, boats and events like the annual "Over The Line Tournament".

As the dredging progressed the city gave out leases to the new land which was created which gave incentive for develpment and more importantly tax money for the investment of creating Mission Bay. There was a ton of legal wrangling which had to be done to obtain getting the land from the state and purchased from landowners in the area. Again John Spreckels company comes back to play since his trust donated most of the land he owned on the east side of Mission Beach along Mission Bay through his company and after his death in 1929. They donated a mile and a half of prime beach land on the bay side of the penninsula.

Mission Beach continued to grow and prosper in the 50's after World War 2 and went well until in the mid 1970's when the Giant Dipper Roller Coaster and Belmont Park went out of commission.

Also in the late 60's the city released a plan which would have turned the beach areas into a mini-Miami beach with high rises and large oceanfront towers. Concerned citizens put a measure on the ballet in the early 70's that put a 30' height requirement on all buildings in the Mission Beach and Pacific Beach areas. There were a few large buildings which were built within a small window before the ordinance was passed, but it kept Pacific Beach as example, from being zoned as it was originally for 80,000 residents to the place it is today with about 40,000 residents. The locals at the time did not want the areas to be "high density", and thank goodness the did something because the beach areas now are more like a resort area than a big city at the beach which was what Spreckels and others invisioned when they made the original plans for the area.

The Giant Dipper Roller Coaster finally closed in December 1976.

Some years earlier, the land on which the coaster stands became the property of the City of San Diego and was designated parkland while the actual structure was still privately owned. In the early 80's the coaster became an eye sore in the heart of Mission Beach. After surviving several fires, peeling paint and becoming the home for local transients, the owner of the coaster was under a lot of pressure to have it torn down and the demolition date was set.

A group of concerned citizens called "Save The Coaster Committee," had the coaster designated as a National Landmark and asked that the ownership be transferred to them so they could raise funds to save the coaster. By doing so, they saved the coaster and are responsible for ensuring that the Giant Dipper Roller Coaster exists today for future generations to enjoy. The committee was given a preservation grant, raised funds locally, and donated their time to work on the coaster, however they were not able to raise the amount needed to restore the coaster to an operating condition.

In 1989, the developer of the new Belmont Park retail specialty center contacted the Santa Cruz Seaside Company in Santa Cruz, California to see if they might have some interest in restoring and operating the Belmont Park Roller Coaster in San Diego. The Santa Cruz Seaside Company is the owner and operator of the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk amusement park. The President and Executive vice-president were interested and traveled to San Diego to meet with the Belmont Park developer. The parcel of land that contained the roller coaster was not part of the developers project, yet it was situated in the middle of the complex and having the coaster restored and operating would benefit all concerned.

After a year of discussions with the City of San Diego and many others, the City Council of San Diego approved a long-term lease. A new company, The San Diego Seaside Company, now called the San Diego Coaster Company, was officially formed to restore and operate the Giant Dipper. Over $2,000,000.00 was spent on the restoration of the Giant Dipper and one new train that was built for the ride. The new train had six, 4-person cars.

On August 11, 1990 the newly restored, historic roller coaster was reopened to the public. The response by the public was overwhelming. The restored structure, station house and train were beautiful. Local residents who had ridden the roller coaster years earlier brought their spouses and children to see and experience the ride that they had ridden when they were growing up. The public response to the ride was so strong that the San Diego Coaster Company ordered a second train and it was ready by the following spring. Annual ridership on the Giant Dipper in the first year was three times the original projections. The nostalgic look of yesterday and the strict safety standards of today are combined in Belmont Park's Giant Dipper, along with a strong sense of historical and business integrity.

Today in 2005 Belmont Park is again going through a new facelift and overhaul with the addition of The Wavehouse, which features simulated waves to surf and boogie board on. In additon sections like "The Old Red Onion" restaurant have been completely removed and opened up to venders and kiosks.

Belmont Park is still keeping up with the trends of what is popular thanks to a special vision and renewed enthusiasm by the new management team led by Tom Lochtefeld for making this place as special now as it was the day John D. Spreckels opened it up the the public in 1925. You can still hear the old roller coaster running with the screams of happy kids, teenagers, and adults racing through the summer air until late into the evening. It is still "the happening place" in San Diego and is loaded with thousands of visitors every summer weekend.

Mission Beach is now a world class beach destination and "the best beach in San Diego". It is filled with about 5,800 residents who live in this little isle penninsula and is surrounded by now beautiful Mission Bay and over 4,600 acres of parks and wetlands. All the work and vision from a large collection of people has helped shape and form Mission beach into what it is today. Perhaps one of the most beautiful spots in Southern California, Mission Beach is still very popular for skating, walking, roller blading, biking, jogging, surfing, boggie boarding and so much more. It is a popular place for tourists and almost one quarter of the properties are vacation rentals. It took over 100 years of building bridges, roads, parks, rail-lines, homes, attractions and a boardwalk to transform this one little set of "worthless dunes" into the world class resort it is today.

Thank you Mr. Spreckels and those who have contributed over the years to making this place what it is today. I have lived, and continue to live, a dream life here and could not be more grateful!

A Photo History of Mission Beach

Mission Beach Boardwalk in the early 1900's
The earliest days of the boardwalk in Mission Beach. Unfortunatly these wooden structures were not durable enough to repel some of the winter storms and often needed to be repaired and replaced.

Photo by The San Diego Historical Society

The boardwalk area after a bad storm. The damage often to weeks or more to fix.

Photo by The San Diego Historical Society

Damage after a storm on the boardwalk.

Photo by The San Diego Historical Society

An early aerial photo of Mission Beach from the 1920's. You can see that there is no Mission Bay bridge or even a road going in that direction.

Photo by The San Diego Historical Society

Opening day of The Giant Dipper Roller Coaster on July 4rth 1925.

Photo by The San Diego Historical Society

The Mission Beach Amusement Center in the 1920's, now Belmont Park.

Photo by The San Diego Historical Society

An early photo of bathers on Mission Beach.

Photo by The San Diego Historical Society

Mission Beach in front of Belmont Park and the boardwalk on a sunny afternoon in the late 1920's.

Photo by The San Diego Historical Society

John D. Spreckels went first class with all of his development projects including promoting them as he did here in 1926 by hiring Hal Roach to bring his swimsuit models in for a 1926 swimsuit runway show.

In many ways Spreckels was ahead of his time and Mission Beach is still known for having some of the most beautiful women in the world living in this area.

Photo by The San Diego Historical Society

A young boy enjoying a day at the beach.

Photo by The San Diego Historical Society

Mission Beach Amusement Center and the beach in the late 20's.

Photo by The San Diego Historical Society

The original Mission Beach Amusement Center was complete with a casino, dance hall, roller coaster and fun house as seen below.

Photo by The San Diego Historical Society

The Mission Beach Amusement Center 1926

Photo by The San Diego Historical Society

A ride on The Giant Dipper Roller Coaster, exactly the same today nearly 80 years later.

Photo by The San Diego Historical Society

The building of The Plunge at The Mission Beach Amusement Center 1925.

Photo by The San Diego Historical Society

When The Plunge opened it was the largest saltwater pool in the world when it was completed holding 400,000 gallons of water.
It was later converted to fresh water and is still in use today.

Photo by The San Diego Historical Society

A day at Mission Beach in the 1920's.

Photo by The San Diego Historical Society

Opening day of The Plunge swimming pool in 1926.

Photo by The San Diego Historical Society

The Promenade section of Belmont Park and the boardwalk.

Photo by The San Diego Historical Society

1920's aerial view of Mission Beach and The Giant Dipper Roller Coaster

Photo by The San Diego Historical Society

John D. Spreckels - The man who's original vision and massive financial investments in the early 1900's made Mission Beach what it is today including laying the first rail line through the beach in 1924 connecting it to San Diego through Ocean Beach and building the Mission Beach Amusement Center, now Belmont Park.

Photo by The San Diego Historical Society

The first rail lines are laid in Mission Beach in the 1920's connecting it with Ocean Beach and downtown to the south and Pacific Beach and La Jolla to the north.

Photo by The San Diego Historical Society

The old bridge connecting Mission Beach and Ocean Beach before the Mission Bay bridge was built.

Photo by The San Diego Historical Society

Charles Lindberg, a very famous San Diego resident at the time, flies over Mission Beach in 1927 shortly before crossing the Atlantic Ocean.

Photo by The San Diego Historical Society

Opening Day of The Giant Dipper Roller Coaster July 4rth 1925.

Photo by The San Diego Historical Society

A early lifeguard protecting visitors on Mission Beach.

Photo by The San Diego Historical Society

A woman with her children in the very early 1900's. The first big amusement park in the area was in Ocean Beach where this photo was taken.

Photo by The San Diego Historical Society

Mission Beach on a hot sunny day in the early 1900's. Notice all the tents for "overnighters" and bonfires.

Photo by The San Diego Historical Society

As the area grew so did the number of residents and homes being built on the beach. Here is a photo in front of the Mission Beach main lifeguard tower in the 1950's

Photo by The San Diego Historical Society

The old mini-train which used to run through the Mission Beach Amusement Center.

The photo at the bottom shows this area to be almost the exactly the same today except without the train.

Photo by The San Diego Historical Society

One of the early rail cars that cut through Pacific Beach to La Jolla in the early 1900's. Mission Beach did not connected to a rail system until the 1920's.

Photo by The San Diego Historical Society

The original amusement park in the area was Wonderland, which was built in the early 1900's in Ocean Beach.

Photo by The San Diego Historical Society

California surfing in Mission Beach 1950.

Photo by The San Diego Historical Society

Fun in the sun on Mission Bay across the street 1950's.

Photo by The San Diego Historical Society

Early aerial photo of Mission Beach 1920's. The area which is now the Bahia Hotel was just a big sand enclave with no roads or bridges.

Photo by The San Diego Historical Society

Mission Beach "fun at the beach" in the 1950's.

Photo by The San Diego Historical Society

Some of the shops along the boardwalk in the 1940's. Notice all the Navy sailors enjoying a day at the beach. Today you can still see the same Naval cadets and sailors spending a sunny day in paradise as San Diego is still a major Naval hub on the west coast.

Flooding in Mission Beach?

It always has been a problem and may always be in some areas where the beach is lower than sea level. Here is a couple of guys "rowing" their way around Mission Beach.

Photo by The San Diego Historical Society

An aerial view of Mission Beach 1950's

Photo by The San Diego Historical Society

One of the original planning maps used for sectioning off and dividing up the beach area.
Notice there is no Fiesta Island or other now popular landmarks on the map as those items were not created until the dredging began in the area some twenty years and more later.

Photo by The San Diego Historical Society

The first bridge connecting Mission Bay was eventually demolished in the 50's to make way for an expansion bridge which would allow large watercraft to enter the newly formed Mission Bay.

Photo by The San Diego Historical Society

The new Mission Bay bridge connection Mission Beach to the sand dune sections of Mariners Point and the Bahia Hotel. This photo was taken from The Hyatt Regency Islandia Hotel and Resort

Photo by Mission Beach Online.com

The entrance that links Mission Bay to the Pacific Ocean. The small strip of water at the top of the picture is the San Diego River which has used this area as its outlet for thousands of years.

Photo by Mission Beach Online.com

Mission Beach and Belmont Park 2004

Photo by Mission Beach Online.com

The boardwalk area has changed a lot since the first early days of wooden planks. The boardwalk now is the home of multi million dollar developments and condos which start at around $700,000. This is one of the newest developments by Ocean Pacific Properties, a local beachfront development company.

Photo by Mission Beach Online.com

Belmont Park 2004.

This area is much the same today

Photo by Mission Beach Online.com

as it was when it opened in 1925.

A look from the top of The Giant Dipper Roller Coaster looking south towards Ocean Beach.

Photo by Mission Beach Online.com

Beautiful women are still a part of the beach life here and the "Lifeguard Tower" (No longer spelled "Life Guard Tower") in the background is still watching swimmers almost 100 years later and keeping them safe.

Photo by Mission Beach Online.com

The Giant Dipper Roller Coaster 1925

Photo by The San Diego Historical Society

The Giant Dipper Roller Coaster 2004 - 2005
-still providing smiles and fun for visitors for nearly 80 years later!

Photo by Mission Beach Online.com

A look at the ocean from The Giant Dipper Roller Coaster. You can see the cranes which knocked down the northwest corner of the park to make way for vendors and a new open area in the park to relax and spend the afternoon.

Photo by Mission Beach Online.com

One of my favorite photos and one of the many special memories still being made everyday for kids and families in John D. Speckels amusement center 80 years later in 2005.

Photo by Mission Beach Online.com

The Mission Beach Amusement Center, now Belmont Park. Just as many rides but no casino or public dance hall as was in the original buildings which opened in 1925.
Photo by Mission Beach Online.com

The Giant Dipper Roller Coaster 80 years later. Now however the entire area has homes and buildings, where as in the first days it was completely empty all around. This is still the most "happening" section of Mission Beach.

The Giant Dipper Roller Coaster is still a main attraction with lots of shops, clothing stores, surf shops, restaurants and beach bars in the area.

Photo by Mission Beach Online.com

An aerial photo looking south over Mission Beach 2004 from The Catamaran Hotel on Mission Bay.
Here you can see the expansion of Mission Bay and the many inlet areas going down the once section "worthless dunes".

Photo by Mission Beach Online.com

Life has improved in many ways at the beach, but flooding still continues to be a problem in a few areas along the beach where the land is below the water table and very hard to pump out or drain.

Areas like this section of South Mission Beach by the Beachcomber Bar get flooded like this several times a year.

Photo by Mission Beach Online.com

Mission Beach & Belmont Park 2005

Photo by Mission Beach Online.com


A special thanks to The San Diego Historical Society for their massive and in depth catalog of resources, help and information including documents and articles research, especially that compiled by Zelma Bays Locker, a local resident who moved to Mission Beach in 1939. As a local resident she wrote and indexed a vast amount of history on the area.
Zelma Bays Locker was also a graduate of Pratt Institute Graduate School of Library Science. From 1933 to 1967 she served as Senior Librarian in charge of the California, Newspaper and Genealogy Room at the San Diego Public Library. She was also a member of the Board of Directors for the San Diego Historical Society from 1968-1974. The information presented here was part of several award winning papers and articles she wrote for The San Diego Historical Society Institute of History.
She is known as the "Librarian of Mission Beach" as wrote and indexed more historical information on this area than anyone in her time.

Other articles and authors used in this articvle include...

Mission Bay Aquatic Park: The History of Planning and Land Acquisitions
By Ed Gabrielson

By Eve Smull, Beach and Bay Press

The Mission Beach Roller Coaster Museum
Mission Beach

Points of Historical Interest
A look back at San Diego History
by Lucy Kortum

History of San Diego's Mission Beach
by Peter Lubczynski

All Photos are copyright of The San Diego Historical Society
and may not be copied or replicated without express written permission of
The San Diego Historical Society

To receive permission or to buy a hard copy of one of the photos used in this article click here

Memories of Days gone by in Mission Beach

The Mission Beach rail line ran through Mission Beach from 1924 until 1940.

Here is an excerpt from Zelma Bays locker, a local resident of the time talking about the last day of service for the line in Mission Beach.

"We passengers knew all the motormen, too. It was Nils Holmquist, usually "our" motorman in the morning, whose lot it was to bring in the last street car from La Jolla when the No. 16 line was abandoned on Sept. 16, 1940. He was scheduled to leave the La Jolla Terminal at 1 a.m., "and I'm going to ring my bell all the way to town," he told us. He did, too. From my bedroom in Mission Beach, I could hear him approaching from a distance, hear him pass, and hear him fade into the distance. It was the end of an era, and there was something quite sad about it. But to me, it no longer mattered personally, because'... I had bought a used car!"

Photo by The San Diego Historical Society

Mission Beach Today -2005

A look at Mission Beach on a sunny weekend loaded with visitors and beach-goers. One of the most popular beaches in Southern California and a favorite for visitors and tourists.

Photo by Mission Beach Online.com

2005 Map of Mission Beach & Mission Bay

Here you can see the extensive work which went on starting in 1929 but fully taking off in the late 1940's and early 1950's dredging Mission Bay and creating the inlet on El Carmel along with Fiesta Island.

Mission Bay now consists of over 4,000 acres of beautiful parks and wetlands and surrounds the entire Mission Beach area.

Mission Beach & Belmont Park 2005

Mission Beach is a true Southern California paradise to both live in and visit!

Come join the 100 year+ history of the popular beach town and come visit Mission Beach!

CLICK HERE to Return back to Mission Beach Online.com

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