History of San Diego

Lester Bangs, Vince Miranda, San Diego 100 years ago, race in 19th century San Diego, shooting of Some Like It Hot, San Diego drive-in theaters

Cabrillo Theatre.  "We screened The Texas Chainsaw Massacre at the Cabrillo the week it was released in 1973. The house was packed for all but the earliest and latest showings."
  • Cabrillo Theatre. "We screened The Texas Chainsaw Massacre at the Cabrillo the week it was released in 1973. The house was packed for all but the earliest and latest showings."
  • Image by Guy Sensor

My Highschool Days With Lester Bangs

When Lester Bangs moved to Detroit to join the staff of Creem magazine, we kept in touch with letters and phone calls that came less and less often. The last times I saw him were during a boozy visit to El Cajon at Christmastime in 1973 and, briefly, in 1982 when he came to his mother’s funeral. After he moved to New York I lost contact with him, and whatever lifestyle he lived or adventures he got into I only heard about long after the fact.

By Robert Houghton, July 13, 2000 | Read full article


Vincent Paul Miranda helped shape downtown for much of the '70s and '80s, back when the district still clung to its Wild West, sailors-on-shore-leave legacy.

Vincent Paul Miranda helped shape downtown for much of the '70s and '80s, back when the district still clung to its Wild West, sailors-on-shore-leave legacy.

Before It Was the Gaslamp

The colorful Mr. Miranda.

One day, he's a lauded real-estate visionary being handed the key to the city by Mayor Frank Curran. Then, he's battling city officials as they appropriate his downtown properties in the name of some barely imaginable civic Xanadu being dubbed "the Gaslamp Quarter." He entertained the rich and famous in his Hotel San Diego suite full of priceless memorabilia and was romantically linked to actress Rose Marie, though he was actually a closeted homosexual and co-owner of California's notorious Pussycat chain of porn theaters, whose downtown branch was no small catalyst in his becoming persona non grata among the same metropolitan moguls who'd once feted him.

By Jay Allen Sanford, June 21, 2007 | Read full article


Mrs. Horton wrote to Andrew Carnegie, and the steel magnate replied that he would give the town $50,000 for a library — San Diego officials have settled upon the south half of the block facing E Street between Eighth and Ninth.

Mrs. Horton wrote to Andrew Carnegie, and the steel magnate replied that he would give the town $50,000 for a library — San Diego officials have settled upon the south half of the block facing E Street between Eighth and Ninth.

One Hundred Years Ago

San Diego in 1899.

The first car won’t make the trip from Los Angeles to San Diego until this coming April. An L.A. artist named Oliver Lippincott will be the driver, and when he pulls up to the poorhouse in Mission Valley to take on some water for his machine, a few of the crippled old men will spread the word about the extraordinary mechanical visitor. All the inmates of the place will surround it, exclaiming in surprise and astonishment, and one old man, more venturesome than the rest, will inadvertently open the throttle valve.

By Jeannette DeWyze, Jan. 6, 2000 | Read full article


On November 14, as Mary Munroe was walking along National Avenue, she started to step out over the electric-car tracks when she was struck with a great force from behind.

On November 14, as Mary Munroe was walking along National Avenue, she started to step out over the electric-car tracks when she was struck with a great force from behind.

None Darker Than Me

Racial obsession in 19th-century San Diego

People of color were beginning to move into Sherman Heights and Golden Hill. There were colored Civil War veterans who lived in Golden Hill — Robert Tillman and Alexander Luckett and his family. There was another colored man who owned the Palm Nursery. Many colored people lived downtown — particularly the longshoremen, washerwomen, day laborers, teamsters, barbers, and grocers. A colored watchmaker from Georgia named Meadows was planning a store on Fifth Avenue.

By Barbara Palmer, Aug. 2, 2001 | Read full article


Jack Lemmon and Marilyn Monroe at Hotel del Coronado during filming of Some Like It Hot

Jack Lemmon and Marilyn Monroe at Hotel del Coronado during filming of Some Like It Hot

The White Mask: Marilyn Monroe and the Hotel Del Coronado

For Union reporter Alfred Jacoby, shark sightings and Monroe on the beach fit hand in glove. The Wednesday, September 10, edition detailed how on the previous day Monroe, escorted by two Coronado police officers, made the “100-yard trek” to the ocean. Arthur Miller “was close at hand when she walked out of her makeup tent; he walked with her to the beach; he met her when she came dripping from the ocean; and he walked back to the tent with her.”

By Thomas Larson, Sept. 4, 2003 | Read full article


Traffic-Trol featured spring-loaded spikes that retracted when driven over by exiting cars but shredded the tires of lgate-crashers attempting to enter the lot via the exit gates.

Traffic-Trol featured spring-loaded spikes that retracted when driven over by exiting cars but shredded the tires of lgate-crashers attempting to enter the lot via the exit gates.

Field of Screens

Drive-in theaters arose from swamps.

The first drive-in theater I snuck into in San Diego was also the first one built here, the Midway, on the northwest corner of Mission Bay Drive and Sports Arena Boulevard. It was December 1979, and I was already camping out for concert tix in the nearby arena parking lot (Frank Zappa, well worth the cold 'n' cramps). Friends held our spots while three of us went down the road to attempt sneaking into the single-screen Midway to see Star Trek: The Motion Picture, with no plan as to what we'd do once inside (I guess we assumed we could sit near a speaker pole and not be noticed).

By Jay Allen Sanford, July 6, 2006 | Read full article

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