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A Walk Through Coronado’s History

Beginning in 1886

The modern history of Coronado began in 1886 with the formation of the Coronado Beach Company, which for many years was the driving force behind the development of the peninsula as a town and resort destination; before that, the land had been uninhabited for more than 10,000 years.

The Story of How it Began

Built in 1888, the Hotel del Coronado became one of California’s most beloved seaside destinations, with its Queen Anne architecture, wedding cake trim and famous red roof turrets. The resort community increased its popularity with the rise of Tent City, a large summertime campground that sprung up at the foot of The Del and grew to encompass over 1,000 tents. Recreation included swimming facilities, carnival booths, a Ferris Wheel, aquaplaning, sailing and numerous activities for the entire family. Tent City remains a fond memory for some residents of Coronado and vacationers worldwide who visited the peninsula between 1900 and 1939.

Treasured Traditions

Many of Coronado’s treasured traditions began in the first quarter of the 20th Century. The founding of the Horse Show, Annual Flower Show, the arrival of Prince Edward of Wales and the early experiments in aviation on Naval Air Station North Island, including the departure of Charles Lindbergh in 1927, have established Coronado as a premier city with legendary tales.

Prominent Personalities

Coronado has long been a haven for prominent personalities, including the Duke of Windsor, Thomas Edison, Charles Lindbergh, more than a dozen U.S. presidents and many celebrities such as Charlie Chaplin, Clark Gable, Rita Hayworth, Douglas Fairbanks and more. Coronado has also hosted a score of movie productions, including Billy Wilder's Some Like It Hot starring Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon and The Stuntman with Peter O’Toole, Barbara Hershey and Steve Railsback.

Getting There

Until 1969, Coronado could only be reached by ferry or by driving along a narrow, seven-mile isthmus called the Silver Strand, which attaches Coronado to the mainland. Ferry service became more limited with the opening of the sweeping $50 million San Diego-Coronado Bridge. This graceful, five-lane, two-mile bridge is the only officially dedicated scenic highway of its kind, due to its unique beauty.


Learn more about the story of Coronado on a fascinating heritage walk through the Museum of History and Art. After exploring the museum, tour historic Orange Avenue, the neighborhoods of Coronado’s grand homes and Hotel del Coronado.

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