Point Loma, San Diego, California
Point Loma¬†is a seaside community of¬†San Diego,¬†California. Geographically it is a hilly¬†peninsula¬†that is bordered on the west and south by the¬†Pacific Ocean, the east by the¬†San Diego Bay¬†and¬†Old Town¬†and the north by the¬†San Diego River. Along with the¬†Coronado¬†peninsula, Point Loma separates San Diego Bay from the Pacific Ocean.
Point Loma has an estimated population of 45,887 (including¬†Ocean Beach), according to the 2000 Census. The 2008 population of the 92106 and 92107 ZIP codes is estimated at 48,285.
Loma is the¬†Spanish¬†word for hill. The original name of the peninsula was La Punta de la Loma de San Diego, translated as Hill Point of San Diego. This was later anglicized to Point Loma.
Point Loma was first discovered by Europeans on September 28, 1542 when¬†Portuguese¬†navigator¬†Juan Rodr√≠guez Cabrillo¬†(Jo√£o Rodrigues Cabrilho¬†in Portuguese) departed from Mexico and led an expedition for the¬†Spanish¬†crown to explore the west coast of what is now the United States. Cabrillo described San Diego Bay as ‚Äúa very good enclosed port.‚ÄĚ Historians believe he docked his flagship on Point Loma‚Äôs east shore, probably at¬†Ballast Point. This was the first landing by a European iN present-day California, so that Point Loma has been described as ‚Äúwhere California began‚ÄĚ.
More than 200 years were to pass before a permanent European settlement was established in San Diego in 1769.¬†Mission San Diego¬†itself was in the¬†San Diego River¬†valley, but its port was a bayside beach in Point Loma called¬†La Playa¬†(Spanish for beach). Modern day Rosecrans Street follows the route of the historic La Playa Trail, the oldest European trail on the¬†West Coast.¬†It led from the Mission and Presidio to La Playa, where ships anchored and unloaded their cargoes via small boats. The beach at La Playa continued to serve as San Diego‚Äôs ‚Äúport‚ÄĚ until the establishment of New Town (current¬†downtown) in the 1870s. In his book¬†Two Years Before the Mast,¬†Richard Henry Dana, Jr.¬†describes how sailors in the 1830s camped on the beach at La Playa and hunted for wood and jackrabbits in the hills of Point Loma.
Ballast Point got its name from the practice of ships discarding their¬†ballast¬†there on arriving in San Diego Bay and taking on ballast as they left for the open ocean.¬†Fort Guijarros¬†was constructed at Ballast Point in 1797.¬†Ballast Point and La Playa are now on the grounds of¬†Naval Base Point Loma.
In 1900¬†Katherine Tingley¬†moved the headquarters of the¬†Theosophical Society¬†to “Lomaland‚ÄĚ, a hilltop campus in Point Loma overlooking the ocean. The facility with its unusual architecture and even more unusual lifestyles became an important source of music and culture for residents of San Diego between 1900 and 1920. The Society also experimented widely with planting trees and crops, giving that formerly barren part of Point Loma its current heavily wooded character. They are credited with introducing the¬†avocado¬†to California.
During the 1920s there was a dirt airstrip known as Dutch Flats in what is now the¬†Midway¬†neighborhood of Point Loma. That is whereCharles Lindbergh¬†first tested and flew his airplane,¬†The Spirit of St. Louis, which had been built in San Diego by the¬†Ryan Aeronautical Company. A U.S. Post Office now located on the site contains several historic plaques commemorating Dutch Flats and Lindbergh.
The best known landmark in Point Loma is the¬†Old Point Loma Lighthouse, an icon occasionally used to represent the entire city of San Diego. Perched atop the southern point that creates the entrance of the bay with Coronado, the small, two story lighthouse was completed in 1854 and first lit on November 15, 1855. At 422¬†feet (129¬†m) above sea level at the entrance of the bay, the seemingly good location for a lighthouse soon proved poor, as low clouds and fog often obscured the beam from ocean-going vessels. On March 23, 1891 the lighthouse ceased to be used for its original purpose, as a¬†new lighthouse¬†was built nearer sea level on the same southern point. The Old Point Loma Lighthouse is now partially open to the public and has been refurbished to its historic 1880‚Äôs interior. It is located within the¬†Cabrillo National Monument, named after¬†Juan Rodr√≠guez Cabrillo, the first¬†Europeanexplorer to see San Diego Bay.
On the west side of the peninsula there are sandstone cliffs along the ocean, called the Sunset Cliffs. Geologically these cliffs are known as the¬†Point Loma Formation. They contain fossils, including dinosaur fossils, from the¬†Late Cretaceous¬†period, about 75 million years ago. The formation represents one of the few sites of dinosaur fossils in the state of California. Overlying the Point Loma Formation is another Late Cretaceous deposit called the Cabrillo Formation, which crops out in various areas of Point Loma.
The top of the peninsula is fairly flat, has an elevation of about 400 feet (120m), and is capped by much younger sandstone and conglomerate deposits from thePleistocene¬†era, 1 million years or less in age. These flat-lying beds lie directly on top of the gently dipping Point Loma and Cabrillo formations.¬†The gap in the sedimentary record, called an¬†Angular unconformity, represents about 70 million years of non-deposition and/or erosion.
The cliffs on the ocean side of the peninsula are sheer and are undergoing constant erosion due to wave action. On the east side the land slopes into San Diego Bay more gradually, so that homes and developments go right to the water‚Äôs edge. At the northern end of the peninsula the cliffs and hills become lower, disappearing entirely in Ocean Beach and the Midway area, where the San Diego River flows.
Much of the Midway area is former marshland which has been filled in for development.¬†In fact, the San Diego River used to flow through the Midway area into San Diego Bay, isolating Point Loma from San Diego. Because of fears that San Diego Bay might silt up, the river was diverted to its present course north of Point Loma by a dam built in 1877.
Parts of Liberty Station and Point Loma Village are also fill land, reclaimed from sand spits and wetlands surrounding the Bay. The only remnant of the formerly extensive wetlands in Point Loma, aside from the riverbed itself, is a city-owned nature preserve called Famosa Slough, which branches off from the river near its mouth.
There are several distinct neighborhoods in the Point Loma peninsula.¬†The commercial and retail heart of the peninsula is called Point Loma Village. Its retail establishments serve local residents as well as yachting and sport fishing interests. The streets in Point Loma Village are lined with hundreds of¬†jacaranda¬†trees as a result of community beautification efforts.
Connected to Point Loma Village by a causeway is¬†Shelter Island, which is actually not an island but a former sandbank in San Diego Bay. Shelter Island was developed in the 1950s after it was built up into dry land using material dredged from the bay. It is under the control of thePort of San Diego¬†and contains hotels, restaurants, marinas, and public parkland.
The¬†Midway¬†district at the northern end of the peninsula, adjacent to the¬†San Diego River¬†and the¬†I-5¬†and¬†I-8¬†freeways, is primarily commercial and industrial with a few small residential developments.
Most neighborhoods in Point Loma consist primarily of single family homes. The bayside residential area is called¬†La Playa¬†and lies somewhat north of the original La Playa, the beach where commercial and military ships anchored during the early days of the city. La Playa includes some of the most expensive homes in San Diego. Some bayfront homes have private piers for small boats.
The hills above La Playa are known as the Wooded Area on the bay side of Catalina Boulevard (so called because of the many mature trees in the area), and the College Area on the ocean side (because of the proximity of Point Loma Nazarene College). The¬†Sunset Cliffs¬†neighborhood is on the west side, above ocean bluffs, and is known for its views of the Pacific Ocean.
Roseville, named for San Diego pioneer¬†Louis Rose¬†encompasses the oldest settled part of the peninsula. Many Portuguese fishermen and fishing boat owners settled here more than 100 years ago. Some people refer to the area as ‚ÄúTunaville‚ÄĚ because of its association with the tuna-fishing fleet. The hilly area above Roseville is known as Fleetridge, named for its developer David Fleet, a son of¬†Reuben H. Fleet.
The bayside hills between Rosecrans Street and Chatsworth Boulevard north of Nimitz Boulevard are known as¬†Loma Portal. A distinctive feature of this neighborhood is the location of street lights in the middle of several street intersections instead of on the sidewalk. Loma Portal lies directly in the takeoff pattern for planes from¬†Lindbergh Field, making it the home of the ‚ÄúPoint Loma Pause‚ÄĚ where all conversation ceases temporarily due to airplane noise. The east-west streets in Roseville and Loma Portal are known as the “alphabetical author streets”. The streets are named for authors in alphabetical order from Addison to Zola, with a second partial cycle from Alcott to Lytton.
The northwest corner of the peninsula, where the San Diego River flows into the ocean, is a separate community known as¬†Ocean Beach.
There are several species of¬†wildlife. Mammals include¬†raccoons,¬†skunks,¬†possums,¬†bats,¬†rabbits, and¬†gray foxes. Birds include thegreat blue heron, and¬†feral¬†green¬†parrots¬†of the¬†species¬†Amazona viridigenalis.
Marine activities are mostly located on the Bay side of the peninsula, where there are three yacht clubs, including the¬†San Diego Yacht Club¬†which was home to the¬†America‚Äôs Cup¬†from 1988 to 1995. There are several small-boat¬†marinas¬†and a commercial sport fishing dock on the Bay side. There are other businesses related to yachting and fishing, such as marine supply stores, yacht brokerages, boat repair yards, and hotels and motels catering to fishing enthusiasts. Some restaurants and hotels have docks for customers who arrive by boat.
Tourists visit the cliffs on the western side of the peninsula for views of the ocean and the sunset – hence the name, Sunset Cliffs. There aresurfing¬†spots below the cliffs, such as Luscomb‚Äôs, Garbage Beach and New Break. A woman died in a fall from the cliffs in December 2008¬†and other falls have resulted in injuries.
The Point Loma area has a number of hotels, restaurants, and local businesses. Located in the Voltaire business district, near Ocean Beach, is the Point Loma Youth Hostel, frequented by travelers from around the world.¬†The¬†San Diego Sports Arena¬†and the¬†SOMAconcert venue are located in the Midway neighborhood of Point Loma.
Point Loma is home to several Major military installations including the US Navy’s¬†SPAWAR¬†program, the¬†US Marine Corp’s Recruit Training Depot¬†(MCRD San Diego),¬†Naval Base Point Loma, and the former¬†US Navy¬†Recruit Training Command /Naval Training Center, or RTC/NTC San Diego,
Naval Base Point Loma, at the southern end of Rosecrans Street in the¬†La Playa¬†area, is the home of¬†Submarine Squadron 11, with several nuclear fast-attack submarines, and the Naval Mine and Anti-Submarine Warfare Command, including eight Avenger class mine countermeasures ships. The naval base also houses extensive electronic and communications operations serving the¬†Pacific Fleet. At the southern end of the peninsula is historic Fort Rosecrans, site of the¬†U.S. Army‚Äôs¬†Coast Artillery Corps¬†during¬†World War I¬†and¬†World War II. Fort Rosecrans also includes the¬†Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery¬†and the¬†USS Bennington Monument.
The¬†Naval Training Center San Diego¬†served as a basic training facility for new Navy recruits for more than 70 years, as well as hosting many specialty schools providing advanced career training for sailors. In April 1997 the base was closed and these schools were moved to¬†Recruit Training Command, Great Lakes, Illinois. The former site of the base is now¬†Liberty Station,¬†a 361-acre (1.46¬†km2) mixed-use redevelopment project that includes residential, office, retail, educational, and civic, arts and cultural districts.¬†Liberty Station was developed by the City of¬†San Diego¬†and The Corky McMillin companies.¬†It also includes a 9-hole golf course,¬†a 46-acre (190,000¬†m2) waterfront park and a 100-acre (0.40¬†km2) historic district on the¬†National Register of Historic Places.
The Day at the Docks festival each April highlights Point Loma‚Äôs sport fishing industry.
The¬†Festa do Espirito Santo, or Feast of the Holy Spirit, is a religious festival put on by Point Loma‚Äôs large¬†Portuguese¬†community. It has been staged annually since 1910 and is San Diego‚Äôs oldest ethnic tradition.
The Cabrillo Festival each October is a weekend-long commemoration of the landing of¬†Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo¬†in Point Loma in 1542.
From June through September, nationally known musicians and comedians perform at an outdoor concert venue on¬†Shelter Island.
A free outdoor concert series features local musicians on five Friday evenings in a local park each summer.
Point Loma is noted for neighborhood Christmas decorations. Several blocks of Garrison Street near Chatsworth are particularly well known for elaborate decorations.¬†There is also a neighborhood-wide lighting of¬†luminarias¬†on Christmas Eve in the Plumosa Park area. On two Sundays in December there is a Parade of Lights, with brightly decorated boats sailing on the Bay to be viewed from the shoreline.
Civic organizations include the Point Loma Association, a nonprofit group dedicated to beautification and civic improvement,¬†and the Peninsula Chamber of Commerce.
Point Loma contains a few small neighborhood parks and the Cabrillo Recreation Center. There is large waterfront park at¬†Liberty Station, which also contains a nine-hole golf course. Most of the ocean frontage of the peninsula is a public shoreline park called Sunset Cliffs Natural Park.¬†The Point Loma Native Plant Garden features plants and flowers native to the San Diego area.¬†Cabrillo National Monument¬†is a federal historic park at the southern end of the peninsula.
The James Edgar and Jean Jessop Hervey public Library opened in 2003, replacing a much smaller public library.
Point Loma‚Äôs public schools are part of the¬†San Diego Unified School District. Neighborhood public schools include¬†Point Loma High School, two middle schools, and seven elementary schools. There is also a public¬†charter school¬†campus encompassing five high schools, two middle schools, and one elementary school, collectively known as¬†High Tech High.
Point Loma educational facilities also include three religious elementary/middle schools and one private elementary school.
Post-secondary education is offered at¬†Point Loma Nazarene University, a Christian liberal arts college whose ocean-view campus was once the home of the¬†Theosophical Society. The Peninsula also has a branch campus of the¬†San Diego Community College District.
Rosecrans Street is the north/south avenue that serves the bay side of Point Loma, while Sunset Cliffs Boulevard is the north/south avenue on the ocean side; the two streets run parallel to each other and to Catalina Boulevard on the crest of the hill. The former¬†California State Route 209followed Rosecrans and Catalina to the southern end of the Point. Sports Arena Boulevard, West Point Loma Boulevard, Harbor Drive and Nimitz Boulevard are other major traffic pipelines in Point Loma.
Most streets in the coastal sections, both bay and ocean, are laid out in a grid pattern, with the oceanside blocks larger than the bayside. The grid breaks down in the hilly center, particularly west of Chatsworth Boulevard and east of Catalina and Nimitz Boulevard, where streets have more loopy, curvy patterns. Some streets are broken into several disconnected sections by intervening canyons or hills.