San Diego

San Diego is located in southern California. With around 1.4 million inhabitants, it is the second largest city in the state after Los Angeles. San Diego originally belonged to the settlement area of the Kumeyaay. San Diego Bay was discovered by Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo in 1542 and claimed for Spain. The name San Diego (Spanish for Saint Didakus) was given to the place in 1602 by Sebastián Vizcaíno, who charted the Californian coast and whose flagship was called San Diego. However, the permanent Spanish colonization of San Diego only began in 1769 with the founding of the Presidio de San Diego and the Franciscan Mission of San Diego de Alcalá. San Diego was the first mission in Upper California (equivalent to today's US state of California) and is therefore called the "Birthplace of California". It was also the first European settlement in what is now the Western United States.

From Mexican independence in 1821 until the Mexican-American War of 1846-48, San Diego was part of Mexico. At the end of the war, Mexico tried to keep at least San Diego, but the victorious Americans insisted on keeping the entire San Diego Bay as well, and the border was made a league (3 miles) south of the southernmost point of the Bay of Guadalupe Hidalgo in the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo bay fixed. It is there to this day.

San Diego received city rights in 1850 as one of the first places in California (along with San Francisco, Sacramento and San José and even before Los Angeles). The city originally lay at the foot of Presidio Hill, on the site of today's Old Town Park. But that was rather inconvenient, since it was several miles away from the coast. In the second half of the 19th century, a "new town" was therefore developed directly on the coast, which corresponds to today's downtown and the Gaslamp Quarter. In the 1880s, San Diego experienced its first major population boom: within ten years, the population quintupled. Around 1900 the city had 17,000 inhabitants. In 1915/16 and 1935/36, San Diego was the scene of two World's Fairs, the Panama-California Exposition and the California Pacific International Exposition, for which Balboa Park was designed. In the 1920s, San Diego grew into a big city, in the 1950s the half-million mark was broken, and since the late 1980s San Diego has been a city of over a million people.

San Diego is an important US Navy base. From 1901 the Navy maintained a coaling station here. The Naval Base San Diego was founded in 1922 and is now the second largest naval base in the United States. Two aircraft carriers, 15 amphibious assault ships, eight cruisers, 14 destroyers, nine coastal combat ships, three minesweepers and support ships have their homeports here. 26,000 military and civilian employees work at the base.

The coasts around San Diego are among the birthplaces of modern surfing. The International Surfing Association is based here.



North: Bay Ho, Bay Park, Carmel Valley, Clairemont Mesa, Del Mar Heights, La Jolla, La Jolla Village, Mission Beach, North City, North Clairemont, Pacific Beach, Torrey Pines, University City
Northeast: Carmel Mountain, Miramar, Mira Mesa, Rancho Bernardo, Rancho Penasquitos, Saber Springs, Scripps Ranch, Sorrento Valley
East: Allied Gardens, Birdland, Del Cerro, Grantville, Kearny Mesa, Lake Murray, San Carlos, Serra Mesa, Tierrasanta
West: Hillcrest, La Playa, Linda Vista, Loma Portal, Midtown, Midway District, Mission Bay Park, Mission Hills, Mission Valley, Morena, North Park, Ocean Beach, Old Town, Point Loma Heights, Roseville-Fleetridge, Sunset Cliffs, University Heights, Wooded Area
Downtown: Balboa Park, Barrio Logan, Core-Columbia, Cortez, Gaslamp Quarter, Golden Hill, Grant Hill, Harborview, Horton Plaza, Little Italy, Logan Heights, Marina, Memorial, Park West, Sherman Heights, South Park, Stockton
Mid City: City Heights, College Area, Darnall, El Cerrito, Gateway, Kensington, Normal Heights, Oak Park, Rolando, Talmadge, Webster
Southeast: Alta Vista, Bay Terrace, Chollas View, Emerald Hills, Encanto, Jamacha-Lomita, Lincoln Park, Mountain View, Mt Hope, Shelltown, Skyline, Southcrest, Valencia Park
South: Egger Highlands, Nestor, Ocean Crest, Otay Mesa, Palm City, San Ysidro, Tijuana River Valley


Getting here

By plane
There are several airports in San Diego. By far the largest and most important is San Diego International Airport (IATA: SAN) (“Lindbergh Field”). It is around 4.5 km from the city center. It handles over 22 million passengers annually, making it the 26th busiest airport in the United States. The main airlines represented here are Southwest, United, American and Delta Air Lines.

There are direct connections from Central Europe with Lufthansa from/to Frankfurt and seasonally with Edelweiss Air from/to Zurich. Otherwise there are transfer connections via Chicago, Dallas or Denver. Within the US, the most frequented connections are with San Francisco (Alaska, Southwest, United), Phoenix (American, Southwest), Denver (Frontier, Southwest, Spirit, United) and Seattle (Alaska, Delta, Southwest).

Bus line 992 runs every 15 minutes from the airport to the city center (downtown), the journey takes about 20 minutes.

The Cross Border Xpress (IATA: TJX) (CBX) terminal at the US-Mexico border provides direct access from the US side to Tijuana Airport (IATA: TIJ) in Mexico. There, predominantly inner-Mexican connections are offered, for example with Mexico City, Jalisco or Sinaloa.

Regular air traffic has been suspended at Brown Field Municipal Airport wikipedia (IATA: SDM) and is only used for alternative purposes. Montgomery-Gibbs Executive Airport (IATA: MYF) is for private flights only.

By train
San Diego is served by rail via Amtrak's Pacific Surfliner. The Surfliner operates several times a day between San Luis Obispo on California's central coast and San Diego, via Santa Barbara and Los Angeles. The route between San Diego and Los Angeles is served approximately 12 times in each direction from Monday to Friday, with a journey time of just under three hours. Only two trains a day travel the entire route from San Luis Obispo, taking around nine hours; the connection from Santa Barbara is offered five times a day and takes around six hours.

The Pacific Surfliner makes two stops in San Diego: the Old Town Transit Center in the northwest of the city and the Santa Fe Depot in the city center (downtown). Both offer transfers to the local Coaster and the green line of the San Diego Trolley.

The Coaster regional train connects San Diego with the northern suburbs of Encinitas, Carlsbad and Oceanside.

By bus
Greyhound Lines offer long-distance bus service multiple times daily between San Diego and the San Ysidro/Tijuana border crossing (25 minutes; from $8), Los Angeles (2:20-3 hrs; from $11), Yuma (4:40 hrs; from $32) and Phoenix (a good 8 hours; from $43); once per day with San Bernardino (2½ hrs; from $20).

San Diego Bus Station, 1313 National Ave. Phone: (619) 515-1100. 100 meters from the 12th & Imperial Transit Center, which connects to the San Diego Trolley (all three lines) and several city bus routes.

In the street
Despite its location on the Pacific Ocean and the border with Mexico, San Diego is easily accessible by car.

Interstate 5 begins at the Mexico border south of San Diego and runs right through the city, from where it heads north via Los Angeles to Seattle and Vancouver.

Interstate 15 begins in the north of the city and runs east past the Los Angeles metropolitan area, through Las Vegas and Salt Lake City to Canada.

Interstate 8 begins in the northwest and heads east, where it meets Interstate 10 between Phoenix and Tucson.

In addition, San Diego is accessed by some State Routes that have been upgraded to freeways.

By boat
More than 180 cruise ships call at the B Street Pier International Cruise Ship Terminal each year on their way to Hawaii or along the American west coast.


Transport around the city

San Diego has a well-developed public transport system by American standards. It is operated by the San Diego Metropolitan Transit System (MTS or Metro). This includes the San Diego Trolley, a light rail system with three lines (blue, green, orange) and a total distance of 86 kilometers. The trolley runs partly on its own track bed, partly on the road, so it is a hybrid of an S-Bahn and a tram.

In addition, there is the "silver line" with historic streetcars from the 1940s, which run on Tuesdays, Thursdays, weekends and public holidays on a 4 km long ring through the city center (Downtown Loop). There are also 93 bus routes. Three of these are so-called SuperLoop or MTS Rapid lines, which move a little faster due to their own lanes and preferred traffic light switching.

All trolley and several bus lines meet at the 12th & Imperial Transit Center near Petco Park ballpark. The headquarters of the MTS is also located there. A one-way fare on trolley or rapid lines is $2.50, and $2.25 on regular bus lines. Seniors over 60 and people with disabilities each pay half. A one-day pass for all MTS transit in the metro area is $5, 2 days is $9, 3 days is $12, 4 days is $15, 14 days is $43. Separate fares apply to trips to the suburbs outside the city limits.



San Diego is a popular tourist destination. The attractions include:


Historical Neighborhoods

1 San Diego Old Town wikipediacommons. The best way to get there is by train, which as such is a rarity in the USA. You can take the Green Line to the Old Town station. A nice collection of old houses from the time when San Diego was first settled awaits you there. In the houses, old forms of craftsmanship come to life again. In a historic candy shop, for example, you can see how candy was made in the past. A postal museum takes you back to the times of stagecoaches in the "Wild West". Old Town can therefore only be recommended for a half-day trip (even after a jet lag).
2 Gaslamp Quarter (or Gaslamp District; green line: Gaslamp Quarter; orange or blue line: Civic Center) wikipediacommons. District listed as a historical monument, which was essentially created in the second half of the 19th century. The buildings are typically Victorian in style. Known then as "Stingaree," it was the city's seedy-image entertainment district, with a multitude of saloons, gambling dens and brothels. After a period of decline and decay, it was revived as a nightlife district in the 1980s and 90s, albeit less sleazy, and offers a high concentration of restaurants, shops and nightclubs. It is also the site of the Street Scene music festival, Mardi Gras (carnival) and the St. Patrick's Day parades.



Mission San Diego de Alcalá, 10818 San Diego Mission Rd (Green Line: Mission San Diego) . First Spanish Franciscan Mission in Upper California. It was founded in 1769. However, the current church on this site dates from the 19th century.



1 Balboa Park (Bus 7 or 215: Park Bl & Zoo Pl). Largest public park in the city. The park was designed for the 1915 Panama-California Exposition. It houses a large number of museums and cultural institutions housed in historicist buildings in the Spanish colonial style.
2 San Diego Zoo, 2920 Zoo Dr (Bus 7 or 215: Park Bl & Zoo Pl) wikipediacommonsfacebookinstagramtwitter. One of the largest and most famous zoological gardens in the USA with 650 different animal species. San Diego Zoo was one of the first to replace indoor cages with large outdoor enclosures that replicate the animals' natural habitats.
3 Mission Bay (accessible by bus routes 8 and 9 from Old Town Station) . Artificial Lagoon. Surrounding them is the 17 km² Mission Bay Park, the largest man-made water park in the USA. It consists of about half of water and half of land (artificial islands and peninsulas). You can go sailing, wakeboarding or jet skiing on the water surfaces. Camping, biking, jogging, skateboarding, rollerblading and sunbathing on the surrounding land.
4 Presidio Park, 2811 Jackson St (600 m northwest of Old Town Park; Green Line: Old Town Transit Center; Bus 88: Taylor St & Presidio Dr). Historical park on the site of what was once the Presidio de San Diego, the first Spanish fort in Upper California. In the park is the Junípero Serra Museum, whose exhibition is dedicated to the founding phase of San Diego. Built in 1925 in Spanish Colonial style, some mistake it for the historic Presidio.



USS Midway Museum, 910 N. Harbor Drive, San Diego, CA 92101. Tel: +1.619.544.9600. Converted into a museum. Aircraft carrier that served from 1945 to 1992 (including the Vietnam War).

Streets and squares
Horton Plaza, 900 Fourth Ave, San Diego, CA 92101, USA. Park-like square in the city center (Downtown). Here is the Broadway Fountain, inaugurated in 1910, which is modeled on the ancient Lysicrates monument in Athens.

Point Loma (12 km west; accessible by bus route 84 from Old Town Transit Center) . Peninsula jutting out into the ocean that forms a natural barrier around San Diego Bay. Rocky coastal landscape (Sunset Cliffs Natural Park), Fort Rosecrans military cemetery, old lighthouse from 1855.



In part for historical reasons, San Diego's city limits are quite jagged. While there are exclaves of the metropolitan area that are 20 or even 30 miles from downtown, there are officially self-contained cities of Coronado, National City, and Chula Vista that are much closer to downtown San Diego and have effectively merged with the city without that there was a discernible separation. In the following, therefore, settlements within a radius of 30 km are listed, regardless of whether they are districts of San Diego or independent communities.

3 Coronado – Beach resort on the peninsula off San Diego Bay known for the plush Hotel del Coronado, a Victorian beach hotel founded in 1888 where the 1958 film Some Like It Hot starring Marilyn Monroe, Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis was filmed. Accessible via the Coronado–Convention Center passenger ferry or via the Coronado Bridge (bus route 901 takes 20 minutes from downtown)
4 La Jolla – residential suburb (20 km north of downtown, 9 km from Mission Bay) with famous beaches (e.g. Black's Beach), one of the birthplaces of the "surf culture" of the 1960s, seat of the University of California , San Diego, and the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, exclusive shops for the wealthy residents.
5 Miramar (14 miles north of Downtown) - Former home of the United States Navy Fighter Weapons School ("Top Gun"), known from the film Top Gun (1986) starring Tom Cruise and the series JAG (1995-2005). There is a park and a 5-mile walk around Lake Miramar.


What to do

Seaworld. Tel: +1 619 222 4732 . Marine life themed amusement park with aquariums and Ozeaneum. The highlights are the orca, dolphin and sea lion shows.
San Diego Padres, 100 Park Blvd (Trolley (all lines): 12th & Imperial Transit Center) . National League Baseball Team. The home stadium is Petco Park with a good 42,000 seats.
San Diego Fleet. After the city's most famous sports team, the San Diego Chargers, moved to Los Angeles, a new professional football team was formed for the 2019 season. It plays in the Alliance of American Football (AAF), a league that rivals the established NFL. Home ground is the SDCCU Stadium.
San Diego State University (SDSU) collegiate athletic teams are called the "Aztecs" and play in the NCAA Division I Mountain West Conference.
San Diego State Aztecs Football. Home games at SDCCU Stadium.
San Diego State Aztecs Men's Basketball. Home games at the Viejas Arena.
SDCCU Stadium, 9449 Friars Rd (Green Line: SDCCU Stadium). In addition to football games of the San Diego Fleet and the Aztecs, major pop and rock concerts also take place here.
Viejas Arena, 5500 Canyon Crest Dr (Green Line: SDSU Transit Center) . Multipurpose Hall on the San Diego State University campus. Mainly used for basketball games, but also concerts, meetings and lectures.
The Old Globe. Tel: +1 619 234 5623.
Bike & Kayak La Jolla, 2158 Avenida de la Playa, La Jolla CA92037.



In the south of San Diego, directly on the border with Mexico, is the large shopping center 1 Las Americas Premium Outlets wikipedia with numerous discounted brand names. The outlet can be reached via I-5 South (last exit in the USA).



In San Diego there are a large number of branches of various chains, such as Jack in the Box, Wendy's, Mac Donalds, Hooters, etc. If you are looking for "typical American cuisine", you will find a restaurant at Phils BBQ under San Diego's Top 10 Restaurants was rated. Those who would like to visit a 1950s restaurant can do so at the Corvette Diner.

Getting a sumptuous breakfast of pancakes and scrambled eggs at a restaurant or larger coffeehouse is no problem in San Diego. Due to the proximity to the Mexican border, there are many restaurants that stock Mexican dishes like tacos and burritos. The California burrito, which has become well-known in San Diego, should be explicitly mentioned here, which also contains fries in addition to the classic Mexican ingredients.

Furthermore, Asian cuisines such as Vietnamese and Japanese and teahouses can also be found in San Diego. In pubs and restaurants there is usually a larger selection of beers.



At the east end of Downtown (south of Broadway between 4th and 6th Avenues) is the Gaslamp Quarter. Architectural heritage dating back to the 1880s can be found here. The Gaslampviertel consists of painstakingly restored brick buildings. Here in the district you will find what your heart desires: numerous bars, clubs, cafés and restaurants.



Hawthorne Suites, 1335 Hotel Circle South. Tel: +1 619 299-3501, Fax: +1 619 294-7882.
Holiday Inn, 3805 Murphy Canyon Road. Phone: +1 858 278-9300.
Holiday Inn, 17065 W Bernardo Dr Phone: +1 858 485-6530.
Holiday Inn, 595 Hotel Circle South. Phone: +1 619 291-5720.
Four Points By Sheraton San Diego Downtown, 1617 First Ave. Phone: +1 619 239-9600.
Holiday Inn, 4875 North Harbor Drive. Phone: +1 619 224-3621.
Holiday Inn, 1355 North Harbor Drive. Phone: +1 619 232-3861.
Holiday Inn, 3737 Sports Arena Blvd. Phone: +1 619 881-6100.
Holiday Inn Express, 4610 De Soto St. Phone: +1 858 483-9800.
Holiday Inn Express, 3950 Jupiter St. Tel: +1 619 226-8000.
Holiday Inn Express, 9888 Mira Mesa Blvd. Phone: +1 858 635-5566.
Holiday Inn Express, 3900 Old Town Ave. Phone: +1 619 299-7400.
Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites, 5925 Lusk Blvd. Phone: +1 858 731-0100.
Holiday Inn Select, 9335 Kearny Mesa Rd. Tel: +1 858 695-2300.
SpringHill Suites San Diego Rancho Bernardo/Scripps Poway, 12032 Scripps Highlands Drive. Tel: +1 858 635-5723, Fax: +1 858 635-5725.
Staybridge Suites, 11855 Avenue Of Industry. Phone: +1 858 487-0900.
Staybridge Suites, 6639 Mira Mesa Blvd. Phone: +1 858 453-5343.

Motel 6 San Diego - Hotel Circle, 2424 Hotel Circle North. Tel: +1 619 296-1612, Fax: +1 619 543-9305.
Motel 6 San Diego Airport/Harbor, 2353 Pacific Highway. Tel: +1 619 232-8931, Fax: +1 619 237-0776.
Motel 6 San Diego Downtown, 1546 2nd Ave. Tel: +1 619 236-9292, Fax: +1 619 236-9988.
Motel 6 San Diego North, 5592 Clairemont Mesa Blvd. Tel: +1 858 268-9758, Fax: +1 858 292-0832.

Best Western Americana Inn, 815 W San Ysidro Blvd. Tel: +1 619 428-5521, Fax: +1 619 428-0693.
Best Western Bayside Inn, 555 W Ash Street. Tel: +1 619 233-7500, +1 800 341-1818 (Toll-free), Fax: +1 619 239-8060.
Best Western Cabrillo Garden Inn, 840 A Street. Tel: +1 619 234-8477, +1 866 363-8388 (Toll-free), Fax: +1 619 615-0422.
Best Western Hacienda Suites- Old Town, 4041 Harney Street. Tel: +1 619 298-4707, +1 800 888-1991 (Toll-free), Fax: +1 619 298-4771.
Best Western Inn, Miramar/San Diego, 9310 Kearny Mesa Road. Tel: +1 858 578-6600, +1 800 827-2635 (Toll-free), Fax: +1 858 536-1368.
Best Western Island Palms Hotel & Marina, 2051 Shelter Island Drive. Tel: +1 619 222-0561, +1 877 484-3725 (Toll-free), Fax: +1 619 222-9760.
Best Western Lamplighter Inn & Suites, 6474 El Cajon Blvd. Tel: +1 619 582-3088, +1 800 545-0778 (Toll-free), Fax: +1 619 582-6873.
Best Western Mission Bay, 2575 Clairemont Drive. Tel: +1 619 275-5700, +1 800 457-8080 (Toll-free), Fax: +1 619 275-5064.
Best Western Posada Inn, 5005 N Harbor Drive. Tel: +1 619 224-3254, Fax: +1 619 224-2186.
Best Western Seven Seas, 411 Hotel Circle S. Tel: +1.619.291-1300, +1.800.328-1618 (Toll-free), Fax: +1.619.291-6933.

Courtyard San Diego Central, 8651 Spectrum Center Blvd. Tel: +1 858 573-0700, Fax: +1 858 573-9818.
Courtyard San Diego Downtown, 530 Broadway Street. Tel: +1 619 446-3000, +1 800 321-2211 (Toll-free), Fax: +1 619 446-3010.
Courtyard San Diego Old Town, 2435 Jefferson St. Tel: +1 619 260-8500, +1 800 255-3544 (Toll-free), Fax: +1 619 297-2078.
Courtyard San Diego Rancho Bernardo, 11611 Bernardo Plaza Court. Tel: +1.858.613-2000, Fax: +1.858.613-2010.
Courtyard San Diego Sorrento Mesa/La Jolla, 9650 Scranton Rd. Tel: +1 858 558-9600, Fax: +1 858 558-4539.
Residence Inn San Diego Central, 5400 Kearny Mesa Road. Tel: +1 858 278-2100, Fax: +1 858 268-3926.
Residence Inn San Diego Downtown, 1747 Pacific Highway. Tel: +1 619 338-8200, Fax: +1 619 338-8219.
Residence Inn San Diego Mission Valley/SeaWorld Area, 1865 Hotel Circle South. Tel: +1 619 881-3600, Fax: +1 619 582-7510.
Residence Inn San Diego Rancho Bernardo/Carmel Mountain Ranch, 11002 Rancho Carmel Drive. Tel: +1 858 673-1900, +1 858 673-1900 (Toll-free), Fax: +1 858 673-1913.
Residence Inn San Diego Scripps Poway Parkway, 12011 Scripps Highland Dr. Tel: +1 858 635-5724, Fax: +1 858 635-5726.
Residence Inn San Diego Sorrento Mesa/Sorrento Valley, 5995 Pacific Mesa Court. Tel: +1.858.552-9100, Fax: +1.858.552-9199.
San Diego Marriott Del Mar, 11966 El Camino Real. Tel: +1 858 523-1700, Fax: +1 858 523-1355.
San Diego Marriott Gaslamp Quarter, 660 K Street. Tel: +1 619 696-0234, Fax: +1 619 231-8199.
San Diego Marriott Hotel & Marina, 333 West Harbor Drive. Tel: +1 619 234-1500, Fax: +1 619 234-8678.
San Diego Marriott Mission Valley, 8757 Rio San Diego Drive. Tel: +1 619 692-3800, +1 800 842-5329 (Toll-free), Fax: +1 619 692-0769.



The city has numerous universities. The two most important are UCSD (University of California San Diego) and SDSU (San Diego State University).



San Diego is located on a man-made dock on the southern tip of California, about a two-and-a-half hour drive south of Los Angeles and about a half-hour north of Tijuana, Mexico. The city is bounded by the Pacific Ocean to the west. Mountains and the Anza Borrego Desert Park form a natural boundary to the east. San Diego is divided in two by the city of Chula Vista. The highest point in the city is Cowles Mountain (486 m) in Mission Trails Regional Park; other elevations are the Black Mountain with 475 m and Mount Soledad with 251 m. The urban area expands further and further inland. In the south it extends to the Mexican border. The San Diego River flows through the city.



The annual average temperature is 17.3 °C, the average monthly rainfall is 24 mm. Winters are generally mild with an average temperature of 14°C.



The area that is now San Diego was long inhabited by the Kumeyaay Indians. On September 28, 1542, the Portuguese Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo, who was in Spanish service, was the first European to land. He declared his discovery possession of the Spanish crown and named it San Miguel. Administratively, California was part of the Viceroyalty of New Spain.

The next Spaniard to visit the region was Sebastián Vizcaíno. On behalf of Spain he sailed along the west coast to map it. In November 1602, on the feast day in honor of San Diego de Alcalá, he reached San Miguel and gave the town its current name, San Diego.

It was not until 1769 that Gaspar de Portolá established a military post and the Franciscan Junípero Serra established the first mission, Mission San Diego de Alcalá. Due to constant problems with the water supply and poor soil, the priest Luis Jayme moved the mission about ten kilometers in 1774, and the first settlers soon followed. In 1775, the Spaniards successfully defeated an indigenous revolt. As a result of these events, Luis Jayme and two other people were killed. In 1776 Junípero Serra returned and organized the rebuilding of the mission. In 1797 San Diego de Alcalá was the largest mission in California with over 1400 neophytes.

In 1821 Mexico became independent from Spain. The Viceroyalty of New Spain, Alta California and thus San Diego were merged into the nation state of Mexico. In 1834 San Diego was declared a city and the first elections were held. Juan Maria Osuna won the mayoral election against Pio Pico and became the first mayor. In 1838, San Diego lost its city status after a drastic population decline.

As a result of the Mexican-American War, San Diego fell to the United States in 1850 and became the city and seat of San Diego County. Joshua Bean became the first US mayor.

In 1869, local gold discoveries triggered a boom. As a result, San Diego was connected to the national railroad network in 1885. At the end of the 1880s the gold rush ebbed away; the population of San Diego fell from 40,000 to 16,000 residents.

In 1915/16 San Diego hosted the Panama-California Exposition.

In 1917, US entry into World War I brought numerous military installations to San Diego.

In 1927, Charles Lindbergh transported the Spirit of St. Louis, built in San Diego, from the airfield later named after him in record time to Roosevelt Field in New York on the east coast, the starting point of his legendary transatlantic flight. At the same time, the aircraft industry was beginning to take hold in San Diego.

In 1941, after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the United States Navy moved the headquarters of its Pacific Fleet back to San Diego. Since the Second World War, the military has shaped the cityscape of San Diego and triggered an economic boom. To this day it is the most important employer in the region.

On September 25, 1978, a Pacific Southwest Airlines Boeing 727 collided with a Cessna 172 light aircraft. A total of 144 people die in the crash of Pacific Southwest Airlines Flight 182.

On January 29, 1979, 16-year-old Brenda Ann Spencer shot two people and injured nine others in front of Grover Cleveland Elementary School.

In 1981, the San Diego Trolley became the United States' first modern light rail system.

On July 18, 1984, one of the worst killing sprees in US history took place in the San Ysidro neighborhood: 41-year-old James Oliver Huberty entered a McDonald's branch, shot dead 21 people and injured 19 others before being shot dead by police.

After the end of the Cold War, the military presence decreased significantly, and since then the biotech and telecommunications industries have thrived in San Diego. The inner main belt asteroid (3043) San Diego is named after the city.