Chula Vista, CA and Its Interesting History
Chula Vista, CA’s fascinating history can be traced all the way back to 3000 BCE, to the earliest Native American settlers of the land, through to modern history that details how it once became the world’s largest lemon-growing site. Here are a few facts about the interesting and sprawling history of California’s fourteenth-largest city.
The Quechan People of Chula Vista, CA
The area was first inhabited by the Quechan tribe, a group of Native American people who settled in Southeast California, just north of the border of Mexico – now known as Chula Vista. They spoke Quechan language (also known as Yuma or Kwtsaan), and had originally relocated there from parts of the Sonoran Desert in Arizona. Later, a tribe known as the Kumeyaay populated the area, and stayed for hundreds of years.
The Spanish Empire
In 1542, Spanish conquerors sent three ships to San Diego Harbor, captained by Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo – the first European to sail to the land now known as California. The Spanish laid claim to the land and eventually it was named ‘Rancho de la Nación’.
America laid claim to CA after winning the violent Mexican-American War of 1846-48, despite a movement for Californian independence spearheaded by the mostly-Spanish population there at the time. Although the land was now owned and controlled by America, land grants by the Spanish were still allowed to operate but only as private property.
In the late 1800's, an organization called the San Diego Land and Town Company began to develop Rancho de la Nación and build a new five thousand-acre city development – there were ten houses standing in the area by 1889. It was around this time that the first lemon tree was planted. The lemon industry in the city rapidly grew, and at one point, the city now known as Chula Vista was the largest lemon-growing center on Earth.
Naming the City Chula Vista
The name ‘Chula Vista’ was suggested by the designer of the city’s irrigation dam, James D. Schulyer. Schulyer built the Sweetwater Dam in San Diego County which still stands today. ‘Chula Vista’ loosely translates from Spanish as ‘beautiful view’.
Loss of the Citrus Groves
In the early 1900's, the onset of the Great Depression affected the city badly, but its agriculture industry still thrived, with the lemon orchards producing $1 million in revenue. However, in 1941, the Rohr Aircraft Corporation aerospace manufacturing company was relocated to the city, taking over much of its land, including the lemon groves. The area was never repopulated with lemon trees again.
Chula Vista’s population tripled in size, with thousands of factory workers and service people relocating to the area as its industries grew, and it became one of the largest cities in San Diego county. To urbanize the land, the last of the citrus groves were removed.
The 21st Century
In modern day, Chula Vista’s population exceeds 200,000, making it the second biggest city in San Diego County, and the seventh biggest in Southern California. It has overcome its slow recovery from the Great Depression and is now developing new industries – it recently bought the Olympic Training Center then changed its name to Elite Athlete Training Center. The Olympic Committee plans to still use the center, while paying rent to Chula Vista.
Explore Chula Vista, California
Chula Vista, CA by Zip Code